Personal Prophecy: When is it just Your Wishful Thinking?

Personal Prophecy: When is it just Your Wishful Thinking? May 11, 2024





Elderly Lady with Baby

Predicting Births Marriages and Deaths is Dangerous Unsplash

Birth, marriage and death are the three biggest emotional moments in life.   Why would we seek to restrict our prophecies in the these three areas? Because of our own personal desires we risk being misled into thinking God is speaking. Some call these “Hatch, match and dispatch” predictions and they are unlikely to contain true divine messages.  

Personal prophecy is not fortune telling.  I believe we should avoid promising a baby is coming (hatch),  that someone will get married (match), or that someone is going to survive a serious sickness or indeed that God is about to cause them to die, perhaps for punishment (dispatch). Prophecy is not about wishful thinking, though some charismatics seem to think so.

Some Christians believe God gives us impressions but do not want to call these prophecies. The warning in this article is just as relevant for you if you are more likely to deliver your “sense” that God has said something in a different way. If you encourage someone to just patiently wait for God to give them a child you feel that he will this can cause immense pain. If you speak to a Christian single and say “I really feel sure God is going to give you a spouse” or to a sick person “Lets believe in faith together for your healing” you can have cause as much damage as if you delivered these messages as a personal prophecy.

We should acknowledge that it doesn’t take long to think of Biblical examples for each of the areas we are talking about. Eli the prophet tells Hannah she will have a son (1 Samuel 1),   Joseph is told to marry Mary (Matthew 1), and Peter proclaimed the punishment of God on Ananias and Sapphira resulting in their immediate death (Acts 5).  

But you are not the prophet Eli, an Angel sent from God, or the Apostle Peter.  Unless you have a 100% accurate track record for your prophetic words you ought not be in the business of raising hopes or indeed pronouncing the ultimate punishment.  And the Bible tells us the opposite, that modern prophecy is not infallible:

“We know in part and we prophesy in part” (1 Corinthians 13:9, ESV)

“Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21, ESV)

These three areas of life are particularly open to the danger of our prophecies being influenced by our wanting the best for someone and wanting to be liked. “The heart is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17;9) and these are circumstances where it is all too easy for us to be misled by our own desires into thinking God is promising something good for an individual.

For the one giving the personal prophecy the encounter may feel like it has gone really well. Someone came to you for prayer and advice. You get to deliver what they wanted to hear: you tell them that God himself has heard their desperate pleas and is going to answer them.  They just need to be patient and the baby/partner/healing they asked for will come. You are likely to feel great in the moment and the recipient of such prophecy may even feel grateful. They might however be skeptical even in the moment and if your word is inaccurate you can cause immeasurable pain when it doesn’t come to pass.

What if your prophecy is just the product of too much cheese?  What if it originates in your mind not the mind of God?

The pain of a couple desperate to have a baby can only be made worse by being told that they are definitely going to have a child.  They might even decide not to go and get medical help, or they might delay considering adoption as an option because they are clinging onto your false promise.  You might even end up destroying their faith in Jesus.  After all nowhere in the Bible does God promise every Christian that they will have a child.

The pain and loneliness of a single man or woman who is praying for a partner is likely also to be compounded by your wishful thinking dressed up as a prophecy.  It might stop the person searching for a potential spouse, which these days is often best done on a dating site, where you often have to communicate with a LOT of people before finding a true match.  It might also lead to frustration, and prevent them from understanding that whether they will ever be married or not this time in their life is a gift from God  to them and ought to be lived with contentment and purpose.  And if that partner never comes along then again could your word contribute to them abandoning their relationship with Christ altogether?

I shouldn’t even have to mention it, but if your word about marriage is more specific then you have doubled the number of lives you could hurt. Every so often you hear about someone who pronounces that two people are going to get married to each other.  This is dangerous indeed.  Sometimes the person giving the word will be one half of that potential partnership.  Most people do not appreciate being told that God has decided they are to marry the person delivering this word to them!  “Well he hasn’t told me!” is the entirely reasonable retort!

And of course if someone is very sick it is tempting to tell them God will definitely heal them. But this is of course very dangerous as you cannot be sure you are right and you risk damaging a whole family as they seek to say goodbye to their loved one.  The uncertainty of not knowing if you will live or die is part of the process of being severely  sick and it can actually bear much spiritual fruit.

So what do you do if you think God MIGHT actually be speaking to you about a “hatch match or dispatch” situation? Well there is nothing to stop you from PRAYING for the person.  Ask God to give a child, a partner or to heal a sickness. IF you think God may have told you that is going to happen then it might help your prayers for the situation.  Perhaps God is indeed speaking to you but NOT so you could tell them. Of course we cannot limit God entirely and there may be the very rare exception to this general rule of avoiding such prophecies. But as a rule it is a wise one in almost every situation.

It is even wise for you and I to be careful before we conclude that God has been speaking to our own situation  about any of these areas.  Remember that looking for co-incidences and seeing them as God speaking to you forgets that they might just be co-incidences.  Thinking that God is directing you in any of these three areas even personally can lead to a host of challenging circumstances.

God will often speak to us through the journey as we take steps of faith.  I have heard of stories of people booking an appointment to get their fertility checked out, and just before the appointment occurs they suddenly get pregnant. Or you join a dating site with faith, and suddenly you find your partner at church after all.  Or you pray between a diagnosis of cancer and its treatment and perhaps the tumour disappears before the final pre-op scan.  But remember God is not obligated to work such miracles in your life.

God hasn’t promised to give you everything you want and take away all your pains.  He has promised to be with you in whatever situation you find yourself in.


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