Activating prophecy.

by K.W. Leslie, 15 June 2022

Every Christian has the Holy Spirit within us, and we gotta learn to listen to him when we pray. And when he has something to tell not just us, but other people—whether other Christians or not—that’s prophecy. That’s all prophecy is. It’s not complicated.

But not every Christian has the patience to wait for God to tell us something. We want a message now. Right now. ’Cause we wanna share God with someone, and it’d really blow their minds if God himself told ’em something. Or we want to know something about the future, or need some encouragement, or need a reminder God’s here… or, let’s be honest, we wanna show off how we really do hear God.

That’s why various Christians will claim we can activate prophecy. That it’s not just the Holy Spirit’s supernatural gift, but a power we can switch on, once we learn to “move in the prophetic,” by which they mean we learn to tap that power, much like connecting your phone to the wifi at the coffeehouse.

So these folks teach us certain techniques we can use to help get us into the appropriate mindset for prophecy. The prophetic realm is all around us! All we gotta do is become aware of it, listen to what the Spirit’s trying to tell us—’cause we’re usually too dense to notice—and we’ll gain the ability to speak a word of prophecy wherever and whenever the need arises.

These techniques include paying attention to your surroundings. Or looking for clues in the person you’re trying to prophesy to: What they’re wearing, what they’re saying, what they react to when you talk to them. Or looking for clues in yourself: The very first word that comes to your mind, or the very first mental image you have, or the very first bible verse which pops into your head. Colors or fragrances might stand out, and evoke a memory or thought from you. Whatever cues might jump out at you and trigger a prophecy. Look for them!

Your job is to take these cues and extrapolate a positive message from them. Those who teach activation, make it very clear all prophecy must encourage and uplift. You know, like Paul said. 1Co 14.4 So if you come up with something negative, you’re doing it wrong; don’t do that; we’re trying to encourage not discourage. Keep it motivational and supportive. And where appropriate, quote bible.

I’ve been to a few of these activation classes and seminars. I agree—these techniques can produce really interesting, encouraging results.

But none of it is actual prophecy. It’s mentalism.

Cold-reading your way to “prophecies.”

In my article on mentalists, you’ll notice all these “activation techniques” are really just cold reading, the mentalist technique of looking someone over, noticing details, discerning conclusions, and stating them. Detectives do the very same thing when they look at suspects, or examine crime scenes.

And because your average person doesn’t realize how easy it is to come to accurate conclusions like this, it amazes them. “How’d you know that? You must be psychic!” That’s the entire premise of the detective series Psych—a guy who’s so good at deduction, he pretends to be psychic because regular police detectives can’t believe he’s that much better than they are.

I deduce stuff. Always have. Hence I’ve heard “You must be psychic” (or, when they’re Christian, “You must be a prophet”) all my life. No. I have no psychic powers whatsoever. I can’t read your mind; I can’t see the future; I don’t channel spirits. I can listen to God, share what I heard, and in so doing prophesy—but that’s not at all what I was doing. I’m just using the brain God gave me. I look people over, make accurate guesses, and people are surprised—because they can’t believe they’re that easy to read.

Much as we humans would all like to believe we’re unique and distinctive, we really aren’t. We have a lot in common with one another. (If we didn’t, doctors and psychiatrists would find it impossible to solve our ailments!) Same hopes, dreams, motivations, habits, and bad habits. So when I guess right, it’s not because I can read minds, nor did God have to tell me anything. I guessed. Based mostly on knowing how I work—because I’m not so different from other people either.

Psychologists know this. Detectives know this. So do mentalists.

People can be trained precisely what to look for. Yeah, some of us are “naturals”—we weren’t trained, but somehow picked up the ability. Those who know nothing about mentalism will just assume “naturals” are supernaturally empowered. Hence I’ve met many “psychics,” or people who “clearly have a prophetic gifting,” but all they are is better-than-average guessers.

Sometimes being told you have a knack for prophecy, spurs you to seek God’s legitimate gifts of prophecy—and he has no trouble giving it to those who seek him, and want to use these gifts to minister to others. But true prophets know the difference between their own good guesses, and God-granted revelation.

So when you attempt to “activate the supernatural” by observing your surroundings and trying to deduce stuff from them: That’s mentalism. You’re doing as mentalists do: Observe, guess, declare. Since you’ve been told it’s “prophecy,” you think it’s prophecy. And once people are wowed by what you say, and treat it as if it’s miraculous, you definitely think it is prophecy. It’s not.

Forcing God’s hand: Let’s not.

The reason people wanna learn to activate prophecy is because they want to prophesy, but the Holy Spirit isn’t giving them anything.

That’s happened to me. People have said, “You claim God talks to you, so what’s he saying right this minute?” Fair question, so I ask. Sometimes he tells me something. And when he does, my questioner gets immediately turned into a big emotional puddle, ’cause God poked ’em right in the soul. Real prophecy tends to do that.

But more often, he doesn’t. Because the person who wants a message right this minute isn’t at all interested in God. They wanna scoff; they wanna debunk. God knows his answers won’t poke any holes in their skepticism, so he says nothing. Which puts me on the spot, ’cause I just got myself suckered into playing their game, and I want God to win!—and he doesn’t even want to play.

Well, when God doesn’t answer his prophets in the moment, either they have the wisdom to realize it’s not the right time… or they come up with something on their own. Which is not God. But we figure we know how to mimic God closely enough, right? It’ll be encouraging. We’ll say it in Christianese and everything.

Keeping it positive is an old trick to guarantee few people will reject your message. ’Cause when your “prophecy” tells people something nice, they’re unlikely to reject it. You’ll tickle their itching ears in just the right way. Unlike, of course, actual bible prophecies—which taught, proved, corrected, and discipled. 2Ti 3.16 God didn’t, and doesn’t, limit his messages to positivity. Sometimes negative reinforcement—in God’s hands, at least—encourages and upbuilds too. Sometimes the carrot works, and sometimes the stick.

But since these “prophecies” aren’t actually God, they have all the usual problems of fake prophecy. They never get confirmed by other prophets. They predict a future which never happens. They might quote bible, but they frequently quote it out of context, and the Holy Spirit doesn’t misquote his own bible! I’ve heard all sorts of “prophecies” from people who are trying to activate God, and though I try to give ’em the benefit of the doubt, their prophecies never come to anything. Never.

True prophecy requires the Spirit’s fruit. Not just so we recognize God’s character in his messages, but because the prophet needs to be fruity. Patient enough to wait for God to give an answer. Self-controlled enough to not blurt out something premature. Humble enough to admit, “Y’know, God’s not telling me anything right now, but give me a few days.” Daniel didn’t answer Nebuchadnezzar’s dream immediately; he needed a day or two, and asked for that time. Da 2.16 Sometimes we gotta ask for time. And wait.

And if we see someone and think, “Now there’s someone who could do with a prophecy,” we have to be okay with it when God doesn’t agree.