by Lyn Packer
As a prophet in today’s world we have so many different ways of getting a prophetic word out into the public arena - from speaking them, to publishing them in written form, to music, video, art etc. We live in such a communication-rich world and the ability to broadcast God’s heart in so many different ways is such a gift to us as prophetic ministers.
Yet they all call for one thing – that we give a clear and understandable word. While they are all great ways to communicate the words God gives us, in this article I want to focus in on the differences between sharing a prophetic word in a spoken format, face to face, and sharing it in a written format. There are some things that it is good to understand about the differences in communicating verbally and in written form. If we don’t understand them we will find that we may not actually be communicating as clearly as we think we are.
We Are To Give A Clear Message
In Scripture we see a lot of prophetic words that, to our modern minds, seem ambiguous and unclear because of the symbolism used, but we must remember that the Israelites were used to symbolism and they understood, culturally and spiritually, what the prophets shared with them. Also many times the prophets gave clear interpretations of what the symbolism meant. The Hebrew language was primarily a visual, symbol-rich language. Each letter was a picture whose meaning was understood by everyone, unlike our language today, which relies on the meanings of words more than symbols.
Yet even for the Hebrew prophets God still told them that they must communicate clearly so that they would be easily understood by those that saw and heard them.
In Habbakuk 2:2 (CEV) the Lord speaks to Habbakuk and tells him to write the vision clearly enough to be read and understood at a glance. This scripture version brings out the importance of a written word being able to be understood in a quick reading - at a glance, so to speak. Our communication must be that clear. Actually this applies to both spoken and written words; both should be clear and be easily understood.
This verse in Habbakuk tells us that our job as a prophet is to give a clear word that is easily understood by people. Some prophetic people have never been taught that, and so use words and phrases that aren’t always clear in their meaning. It’s important to remember that the use of mystical language doesn’t equate to greater spiritual importance or meaning.
In the New Testament this idea of clarity and ease of understanding is reinforced. In 1 Cor 14:7-9 it speaks about messages in prophesy and tongues, and says that if we give an indistinct sound, people will not be able to prepare themselves for battle; that if, like an instrument, we play an unclear sound then people will not be able to catch the melody or enjoy the music.
Take Time To Process
Many prophetic people don’t understand that the most commonly recognized Hebrew word for prophecy, ‘naba – bubbling up’, refers primarily to the way of receiving prophetic revelation, not of giving it. So they receive a bubbling up of revelation, open their mouth and let it spill out, often without any processing before they speak. When prophetic revelation bubbles up within us we must take the time needed to process it, first of all to check if what we are receiving is actually from the Lord, and not from our flesh or the enemy, and also so that we get His heart and intent for this person, or people, and accurately portray that in what, and how, we share. It’s also important to weigh what we receive against what is already revealed in scripture, and we should always make sure that we do that.
Some of the information God gives us in the ‘bubbling up’ of revelation is for us alone, so that we’ll seek His heart for the person, nation etc, and pray through it until we get the word He wants us to share. Not all the information, or every word we receive from Him, is to be given, and no information should be given without weighing it and processing it with Him first. This processing with Him does not need to be a long drawn out thing, and the more that we know His heart and intent for man, and what is in scripture, the easier it becomes to process what we receive.
The Difference Between Face-To-Face And Written Words
Giving a prophetic word is not just about sharing information. A prophetic word is an invitation from God for the person who is prophesied over to journey with Him in relationship toward His desired outcome. It is to experience Him and the reality of what it means to walk in relationship with Him, to be guided by Him and see His plans for their life come to pass.
A prophetic word, therefore, needs to express not just words and information, but to be a true representation of God’s heart and intent for the person. This should be shown not just in the words spoken, but in our attitude to the person, our tone of voice, our body language and the look in our eyes as we give the prophetic word. When we speak a prophetic word face to face with a person, all of those things are a part of the content of the message.
However when we write a prophetic word for publishing in a magazine, on the internet etc, all that people can see are the words. This is also true of a spoken recorded word that is posted online in a podcast, where there is no visual component. When we remove the visual element of being able to see the person giving the prophetic word then things change hugely, and it is all the more important how we communicate.
Words, spoken and written, that are devoid of these vital elements (the tone of voice, body language and heart of the Father) are more easily misunderstood, and can easily become just a passing on of information, so we need to make sure that the words we use communicate not just information, but the attitude and love of God that is a part of that word for them.
When David committed adultery and had Bathsheba’s husband killed in battle the Lord showed Nathan the prophet David’s sin (2 Sam 12). Nathan didn’t go running to David accusing him and demanding that he repent. Instead Nathan waited on God for the way to communicate the revelation effectively. In that waiting time between receiving the revelation and talking to David, Nathan received strategy from God in how to present it. He then presented the revelation in a way that got the message through David’s defenses in a non-condemning manner. This allowed the word to be received and caused revelation and understanding to come to David. There is much that we can learn from this interaction and presentation of a word that revealed sin, but did so in a manner that still showed respect and dignity to David.
We see from Nathan's interaction with David that words are powerful. Words paint pictures and they create – they create frameworks of understanding, and can even create realities that people live out of. In the words he spoke, Nathan painted a very clear picture that enabled David to immediately grasp the understanding, and consequences of, his actions. Our words will paint a picture in the mind of the receiver. That’s how people are made; they often see internally the reality of what we speak, so our words need to paint a true and full picture of the Lord’s heart and His purposes for them.
The Writing Process
In a written prophetic word we must choose our words with extra care to make sure that they contain, and communicate, the heart of God in a clear and understandable way. So here are some tips for preparing a prophetic word in written format:
HOW TO COMMUNICATE A CLEAR WRITTEN PROPHETIC WORD
Lyn is recognised as a Prophet within New Zealand and other nations she’s ministered in. Her ministry is revelatory and catalytic, propelling people into encounter with God. The governmental prophetic gift she carries is expressed through prophetic, revelatory insight and strategy, prophetic words (personal, corporate and national), teaching, art, and writing. Click here for more info...
HOW TO COMMUNICATE A CLEAR WRITTEN PROPHETIC WORD
I hope these suggestions and guidelines are helpful and give some understanding of how to communicate written prophecies effectively. I realize they are not all that could be said on how to write effectively, but they may provide some clarity to start you on that learning process. It will take some practice to be able to communicate clearly and effectively, but it is worth persevering and learning how to do so, for both you, and also for those who read the prophetic words you give.
- Make sure that you communicate (both in spoken and written words) from a revelation of God’s heart toward mankind and His nature and character.
- Make sure that what you communicate is in line with the New Covenant that we live under - the finished work of the cross, the promises God has made in line with that, and the grace gifted to us that teaches us and enables us to walk rightly before God.
- Because God is a relational, loving God and Father, both spoken and written prophecy need to reflect that. This is very important and even corrective words need to rightly represent God in this way.
- Make sure that your word fits New Covenant prophetic guidelines – to strengthen, encourage and comfort (1 Cor 14:3). Even though it may have growth or corrective elements to it, a word still needs to fulfill the New Covenant guidelines that God has set.
- Learn to interpret the symbols God shows you. Scripture is a great place to look for the meaning of symbols, but remember that culturally they may mean something different to people living today than they did to the people who lived back then. By far the best source for symbol interpretation is to ask Holy Spirit, as He knows exactly what they mean in each instance.
- Write as you speak; if you don’t normally use big words in speaking then don’t use them in writing. Trying to write in a way that is not you will hamper your communication, rather than enhance it.
- Study other people's written prophetic words; see which ones communicate effectively, and which ones don’t. Ask yourself, and the Lord, why they don’t, and learn from their mistakes. Critiquing other people's writing styles is not about being critical; it's about learning, growing and exercising good stewardship of the gift the Lord has given you.
- Be succinct – more is not always better, but neither is too little. Using too many words, or using overly symbolic or flowery speech, may not be what’s needed to get your message across. On the other hand, be aware that being too succinct also might not clearly get what is on the Lord’s heart across to people.
- Don’t use vague or unclear phrases; people must be able to understand what you mean. As the giver of the word, we may know exactly what we mean by a phrase, or what God spoke to us, but the people reading the prophetic word aren’t privy to our thought processes and conversation with God. All they have are the words we write down.
- Be careful of using Christian phrases and cultural colloquialisms; our local church language may not be clearly understood across cultures, or even from one part of the Body of Christ to another. Our localized cultural sayings may not mean the same thing from one culture to another, and may even be offensive to another culture.
- When you’ve finished writing the word check it to make sure that it isn’t full of your biases, perspectives and opinions on things. We must lay down our opinions and perspectives to both hear God clearly and to communicate His heart clearly.
- After you’ve checked it, edit it! That’s right, edit! Editing doesn’t mean you didn’t hear God right to start with; editing and rewriting clarifies your communication and is good stewardship of the word He gives you. It’s okay to rewrite to make sure you clearly communicate the Father’s heart and intent.
- Be teachable and correctable. Ask someone else to read the word and see if they understand clearly what you are trying to communicate. Feedback on the words we give is absolutely necessary. If we aren’t given feedback we will think that our mistakes and wrong words are actually correct ones. If this happens we will continue to make the same mistakes and hurt people. This causes people to view both us, and the prophetic gift, with mistrust and disdain.