Posted May 19, 2021 by Michael L. Brown

If you don’t believe that God still speaks today, or, more particularly, if you don’t believe in the continuation of prophetic ministry, this article is probably not for you. But if you do believe that God still speaks and that the gift of prophecy continues until today, this article might be just what you need. Allow me to explain.

Spiritual disappointment is a very real thing, often leading to deeper disillusionment and, in some cases, total loss of faith.

“This whole thing can’t be real,” some conclude, as all the supports of their faith seem to collapse like a row of dominoes.

I address that topic in my new book Has God Failed You: Finding Faith When You’re Not Even Sure God Is Real, focusing on what happens when our prayers are not answered and we feel as if God has let us down.

But I want to focus on one particular aspect of spiritual disappointment here, namely, disappointment in failed prophetic words, leading to the deeper questioning of other words we believed to be from God. “Maybe none of it is real,” we wonder out loud.

This is a perfectly natural response to failed and/or false prophecies, leading us:1) to question the specific prophecy that failed; 2) next in the sequence, we question the person delivering the prophecy; 3) then, if the doubts are deeper still, we question the gift of prophecy itself (or, the ministry of contemporary prophets in general); 4) then, if we’re unable to separate prophetic ministry from the charismatic movement as a whole, we question that part of our belief system; 5) finally, if the charismatic part of our belief system is totally intertwined with our overall belief in Jesus, we question the rightness of our faith as a whole or the reliability of the Bible or even the existence of God.

After all, if one part of our faith that we were convinced was real turns out to be false, maybe everything else we believed is false as well.

It is this kind of logic that causes many people to fall away from the Lord. As Proverbs 13:12 states, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is like a tree of life.”

For many others, though, it’s not a matter of complete falling away from the faith but rather of spiritual burnout in one particular area of our faith. And, given so many prominent failed (or, false) prophecies in recent months, there’s a lot of prophetic burnout going around. Are you suffering from that yourself?

You wonder if you’re really hearing from the Lord in your own life. Or you find yourself being skeptical about any prophetic word you hear. Or you even question past words that you once believed to be true.

How do you deal with this kind of burnout? And what is a healthy, biblically safe method to rebuild your confidence in the prophetic?

I’m quite aware that, to the skeptics and critics, the very premise of this article is totally off base, since, in their view, there is no prophetic ministry today. That’s why I started my article as I did: this article is probably not for you. (For those with sincere questions about whether prophecy and other spiritual gifts are for today, I suggest you watch this debate.)

But for those readers who do believe that the Scriptures clearly teach the continuation of the gifts, here’s what I recommend as an antidote to prophetic burnout.

First, recognize where there has been an unhealthy dependence on prophets (as if God’s written Word was insufficient and as if the Lord didn’t lead you directly and personally). And recognize where there has been an over-exaltation of contemporary prophets, as if they somehow stood above pastors or teachers or other ministers.

In short, do a prophetic detox.

Second, read through the New Testament again, in particular Acts, 1 Corinthians 12-14, and 1 Thessalonians 5, and ask yourself: Do I accept the testimony of Scripture above my own experience? Do I recognize the importance of prophetic ministry for today?

Pastors and prophets and preachers may mislead us, but the Word of God will never mislead us. And God’s Word explicitly enjoins to seek earnestly the gift of prophecy and calls us not to despise prophecies.

Third, recognize that 10 or 100 or even 1,000 false words do not negate a single true word. Go back through your own spiritual history. Were there times you felt clearly led by the Lord to make a certain decision or step out in faith, and that word proved precise and true? Or did you receive a prophetic word from someone which was clearly supernatural, revealing information known only to you or speaking of future things that came to pass with stunning accuracy?

Go back and recount those words. Journal them afresh. Rehearse them before the Lord (or with friends and family). Let your own faith be built up. And, when appropriate, fight the good spiritual fight based on those words which still speak of future promises. (See 1 Timothy 1:18.)

Fourth, remember the words of Jesus, who said, “I am the good shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me.” And, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:14, 27).

Putting prophecy aside, as a child of God and as a sheep in the Lord’s flock, you have a personal relationship with Him, and you can hear His voice – almost always, that inner voice, that inner sense, that inner leading.

Cultivate your own relationship with Him through meditating on the Scriptures, through worship, and through spending quality time in prayer. Before you know it, fresh confidence will rise in your own heart, and whether someone prophesies accurately or not, your own relationship with God will be rock solid and strong.

Let the prophetic burnout be gone!

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davidtarr posted a comment · May 21, 2021
Would you mind naming the false prophets? The ones I listen to , I have full confidence in. There are many common threads that run through them. Can they ALL miss it.
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Romona posted a comment · May 21, 2021
Thank you! Good word of encouragement! Have not lost faith; but praying for a deeper discernment to recognize the truth from the false for myself and the entire body.
OT posted a comment · May 21, 2021
Nathaniel The deceptive mouths that need to be shut up and shut down are the evil malignant words and dealings Of the democratic left! Nathaniel - what do you say to all the pastors that aligned themselves with the Left? with biden and his fluffy unicorn theology !
OT posted a comment · May 21, 2021
Swkh310 It says in Matthew 18, Jesus says, “Whatever we bind on earth, will be bound in heaven and whatever we lose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Swkh310 I bind all your F.U. (fluffy unicorn) words your liberal left theology and all your criticism of Dr Browns ministry here, I curse your words , that they fall flat and are of no effect and send them out into the dry places ! I loose the mercy of Christ over this Nation! I look to the Day God simply laughs in derision over the foolish plans of man. He will He will not let such people overtake or overthrow his predetermined course of actions. Gods will on the earth be done ! amen
CatherineA posted a comment · May 21, 2021
Nope. On the contrary. I honor and unashamedly stand behind the prophets, holding the line right with them! And I thank God for those who have not backed down, apologized or retreated ! And there are many of us too! And not to be disrespectful, but we really do not care what the naysayers, critics, certain leaders and those who elevate themselves above others think, say or write for others to sign in agreement! Let God be true and every man a liar!
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Nathaniel posted a comment · May 21, 2021
Dr. Brown, as a pastor it breaks my heart to see the sheep devoured by hireling/false prophets. I really don’t want the excuse “maybe the word was for a later time or the church didn’t pray, fast or jump through any number of hoops.” The sin of presumption is blatantly obvious in the prophetic world. Some have no business prophesying. They are not prophets. There are are far too many speaking out of their own imagination and adding God into the mix for authentication points. I say Lord shut their deceptive mouths. Stop those who pretend to be called but have called themselves bringing deception, confusion and contempt on your gifts and callings. It’s time for judgment in the house of God. It needs to start with those who use God’s word and work for personal gain at the expense of gullible and desperate sheep. When God speaks he is always true, accurate and on time. Enough of these playtime prophets! The Lord rebuke them and have mercy on the truly repentant. Keep pointing out the truth brother. We need to clearly distinguish the Word of God from the presumption of man. Lord Jesus wake up your church to your will and the gospel call. While we can influence politics, we need influence with you. You are not a political pawn to be used for our means. Forgive us for playing marbles with diamonds. In your name amen
OT posted a comment · May 21, 2021
I don't hate Swkh310 ! I just hate his rhetorical- folly (gran·dil·o·quent /ɡranˈdiləkwənt) his pompous, bombastic, magniloquent, pretentious, ostentatious ! He Thinks he speaks for God I don't hate Swkh310 just his alignment with the wicked left! the Godless democrats who think they are erasing God from this nation! I will speak out against F.U. Swkh310 (fuzzy unicorn) theology ! what a bunch of bosh /bäSH/ something regarded as absurd; nonsense. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "I think it's a load of bosh"
Melchizedek posted a comment · May 21, 2021
I'll take this opportunity to confess to my particular failing/shortcoming. I find my love for the lost is growing colder and colder as time goes on. I know they need to hear the gospel, and they need to hear the truth spoken to them in love, but, I'm losing patience. I'm finding it harder and harder not to hope they experience severe consequences for their lies, their thefts, their sorceries, their fornications, and their murders. I know, objectively and in my heart, that the enemy wants me to give up on them and curse them, but it's getting more difficult to listen to that voice, it seems easier to surrender to the gravitational pull of emotion and just give up and give in and allow my self to hate their guts for being so obtuse and stubborn and willful in their wickedness. Or, is this what happens when God gives people over to the reprobate mind? Is it OK to give up on people if God Himself has given up on them? If they've actually and in fact reached the point of no return, it still doesn't seem right to hate them, for my own sake if not for their sake. Even when they molest children and kill them, I don't want to hate them with a diabolical hatred.
Swkh310 posted a comment · May 20, 2021
Not at all. Among the many gifts God has bestowed upon me was an excellent BS radar. These phonies are totally obvious.