The purpose of a prophetic warning from the Father is for good:
- As a means of protection—e.g. to avert danger
- To help us prepare for an incident beforehand
- To direct or redirect our actions in accordance with His will, or
- To call us to partner with Him in prayer or spiritual warfare.
And yet many times, so-called ‘prophetic’ warnings seem to fall short of this mark, resulting in scepticism, bewilderment, or fear.
So how can we weigh up a prophetic warning—and what should we do with it?
Prophetic Warnings in the New Testament
In the Old Testament, prophets were the messengers of God and it was their role to give warnings to individuals, leaders, or nations. (2 Kings 6:8-10) However the New Testament era is one in which all of God’s people can hear Him directly through relationship.
As the New Testament opens, we notice warnings being given directly from God to individuals. For example:
- God warns the wise men in a dream not to return to Herod (Matt 2:12)
- Joseph is warned and directed in dreams (Matt 2:13, 2:22)
God does continue to use those of His people who have prophetic gifts when a warning is needed. For example, in Acts 21:11, the prophet Agabus warns Paul of his upcoming arrest. However, this is no surprise to Paul, who is already prepared for it. Paul himself says in Acts 20:23 that the Holy Spirit has warned him ‘in every city’ of future hardship and imprisonment.
General Guidelines for Prophetic Warnings
I believe the following general guidelines should apply to prophetic warnings given by one individual to another: 
- A prophetic warning should be confirmation of what the recipients have already heard or will hear from God in their own relationship with Him.
- This also applies to prophetic insights given to church leaders, who hear from God in the context of their ministry role.
- Prophetic warnings are not exclusive, but are subject to the same guidelines as other prophetic ministry. This includes being assessed and weighed up. (1 Cor 14)
What to do when Someone gives you a Prophetic Warning
Recently I have had leaders ask me what they should do with prophetic warnings given to them by others—especially if they feel uncomfortable with them.
If you can relate to this, following are some suggestions that may help.
1. Consider: has the Word been Given Appropriately?
Remember that every situation will be unique and the master key is your relationship with God and with the person delivering the word. Subject to this, some examples of appropriate circumstances for a prophetic warning to be given are:
- It is appropriate for the individual to speak to you directly, for example, he or she is a personal intercessor, ministry peer, or leader
- The person is giving the word to you at an appropriate time or place
- The word is being given in accordance with known church protocols
- The person is accountable and under leadership
- The person’s attitude towards you is one of honour and love.
A. If the Prophetic Warning is given Appropriately
- You do not need to immediately concur or agree with the nature of the word
- Thank the person for their care and faithfulness, and advise him or her that you will pray about it and weigh it up
- Take care that—as with any prophecy—proper process and accountability is maintained
- If the person who has given you the insight is an intercessor, ask him or her to pray, provided you feel comfortable to do so
- Seek confirmation personally from God as well as through others you trust.
B. If the Warning is Not given Appropriately
If the person is sharing the word to you in an inappropriate way, even if you believe the word has an element of accuracy
- Graciously redirect the person to the right means of delivering the word
- Pray about the word that has been given. If it makes you feel uncomfortable you do not need to receive it
- If you feel uneasy, confused or fearful as a result of the word being given to you, share about the incident with a mentor, leader, or someone who can pray with you
- I have sometimes advised people to verbally renounce a prophetic warning or negative insight if it is perceived that it is not from God
- Trust God to speak directly to you. If you do not bear witness to the word, you do not have to receive it.
2. Check your Personal Response to the word of Warning.
A word from God should bring a sense of clarity and empowerment. You should feel empowered to pray or take action, never disempowered or immobilised.
If your response is one of confusion or fear, the word may not be from God, or it may be bringing something to the surface in you that needs healing.
3. Prophetic Warnings Related to Spiritual Warfare in your Ministry or Church
Some warnings (especially those given by intercessors) may relate to spiritual warfare.
If a word of warning or discernment about spiritual warfare is not confirmed, and it is given in an appropriate way, you could:
- Pray, or ask the person to pray
- Shelve it until you have confirmation or feel the word is timely
- Ask other intercessors to pray about what God is saying (with or without sharing the word) and see if there is confirmation.
For more on spiritual warfare, refer to my spiritual warfare series 
 In this post I am focusing on the topic of prophetic warnings in the context of leadership and church life. I have discussed warnings about global events in other posts, for example:
 See the article, Prophetic Ministry In Church Life: Why Have Guidelines?
 I have written a series of articles on spiritual warfare, which begin here: 12 Signs Of Spiritual Warfare. See also 6 Tips For Exercising The Gift Of Discernment In Church Life
Do you have any more thoughts to share on the subject of prophetic warnings? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment on the comments box. If the comments box is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.
© Helen Calder Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching
On team with David McCracken Ministries: Prophetic Ministry That Empowers The Church
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