Want to know how to interpret prophetic words? Try this to get the best response.
This article will help you to process prophetic words and pictures, by following some simple steps.
With the techniques presented here, you’ll never be left scratching your head about a prophecy again!
How To Interpret Prophetic Words And Pictures
When they receive prophetic words, many people don’t know what to do with them.
And for the prophet, understanding what God is saying to a person can be difficult at times.
Ideally, we need to understand what a prophecy means before we share it with someone.
The Lord sometimes asks us to take a step of faith before we get to that point, in order to train us (in that case, he’ll often bring understanding later).
But the majority of the time, we have to take hold of the revelation and process it, before we can move forward.
Two-fold Approach To Interpretation
I believe we need a two-fold approach to this subject:
- Receivers of prophecy need to learn how to understand prophetic words and work out what they mean in their daily lives.
- Prophetic people need to learn to interpret prophecy correctly, so that they can share those words clearly, accurately and unambiguously.
This post is mostly written for prophetic people, but the process is similar for receivers of prophecy, too.
Of course, different prophecies arrive in different forms.
Some prophecy is in the form of prophetic words, while others are mainly pictorial or visionary. So what’s the difference?
What Is A Prophetic Word?
Simply put, a prophetic word is a prophecy whose content is mostly textual and either spoken or written.
Essentially, it is a revelation of God’s thoughts about a person or situation.
It may include specific bible verses, in addition to other words and almost always offers encouragement and exhortation.
What Is A Prophetic Picture?
God speaks to some people through words and sometimes through pictures.
A picture is a visual image or impression that appears in one’s mind.
This is often based on the person or prophet God is speaking through: visual thinkers are more likely to receive pictures than others, although it doesn’t always follow.
Pictures and visions are really the same thing. However, pictures are usually understood in church circles as being simpler and less detailed than full-blown visions.
A true vision is more like a dream but received while you are awake.
Merging Of Prophetic Words And Pictures
Many prophecies are a combination of words and pictures.
For example, some pictures I share are associated with a bible verse.
Pictures often express the meaning or feeling of the bible more vividly than may be gleaned from a straight reading of the text.
On the other hand, a bible passage may affirm that the picture is true or help to illuminate the current reality of the person prayed for.
The best prophecies combine these two aspects so that the words and pictures confirm one another. Together, they become greater than the sum of their parts.
The Process Of Interpreting Prophetic Words And Pictures
The process of interpreting such prophecies varies slightly depending on the content of the picture or word.
A prophetic word requires us to test the prophecy in how it relates to the bible and what we think God is saying.
A prophetic picture needs us to gaze and meditate on the scene, picking out the details, in conjunction with God.
Each requires 4 steps to truly understand them, which I’ll outline below.
Both words and pictures require cooperation with Holy Spirit and a clear understanding of what the Lord says in the bible.
Let’s look at the detail of how this processing works, first with a prophetic word and then for a picture.
How To Interpret Prophetic Words
1. Ask God for (more of) the word
This may sound a strange thing to say, but it’s important to ask the Lord for the fullness of his revelation.
I commonly receive prophecies from God which start off as one sentence or just one or two words.
But when I pray and ask for more, the Lord turns it into complete sentences and paragraphs!
They may well be spoken out loud, but hopefully, you get the idea.
Sometimes, it is only as I begin to speak the first few words that the rest of the revelation comes to me through Holy Spirit.
2. Test the word
Once you have received the words themselves, you must test them.
You need to decide:
- What they mean
- How they feel
- If they match up to scripture
You also need to ask:
Does this word sound relevant to where the person is at or the situation you are praying into? (Caveat: God sometimes gives you things that seem completely out of place to you, but which are perfectly aligned with the person you’re praying for!)
3. Listen to your spirit / Holy Spirit
Many prophecies from God (but not all) come with a sense of their “rightness”.
This sense may be a simple feeling of peace deep in your chest, but it’s important to pray and ask God if that is genuine or not.
If you have that feeling of peace, next ask Holy Spirit to show you if it is from him or from you.
Then ask him for the meaning of the words.
4. Ask God for the meaning
This is where the rubber hits the road: without meaning, a prophecy is empty of its purpose.
Ask God what he is saying through this word, even if it is a passage of scripture.
Some bible verses are obvious in their meaning, but others may require some explanation alongside the verse itself.
Similarly, you may need to refer to the bible to understand the context for a more general word.
You can also confirm to yourself that a prophecy is biblical before you go ahead and share it with someone else.
“Without meaning, a prophecy is empty of purpose.”
How To Interpret A Prophetic Picture
1. Ask God about the details
Look at the picture with your mind’s eye.
Let your spiritual eyes move around the picture and absorb all the details.
Ask God to speak to you about each of those details. Question him about each one and wait for his answers.
2. What stands out?
As you continue to take in the picture, ask God to highlight specific aspects of it.
What stands out to you?
Are there particular objects or people that appear to be important?
What kind of feeling or ambience do you get when you’re taking it all in?
Ask God what significance these elements have.
3. Do you see a theme?
Ask God what he is saying through each of the significant elements.
Are they related to each other? Do they represent items or people in the life of the person you’re praying for?
Ask if these elements come together to express a theme.
For example, do they speak of God’s love, mercy or provision?
4. Write it down
This is true of prophetic words but particularly important for pictures:
Write down what you see as soon as possible, even if you have already shared the picture with someone else.
This will help you to process it further and share more insights as you receive them. The act of writing it down may trigger your thoughts on related bible verses too.
But it will also serve as a reminder of how you understood it when you review your prophetic prayer journal.
How To Interpret A Prophetic Word Or Picture
Finally, for prophecies that are either pictures or words:
- Don’t rush it: meditate on the prophecy before you share it.
- Ask the person you’re praying for what it means for them.
This will allow you to glean the most you can from the prophecy.
It will also allow your friend to feedback and hopefully affirm you in your gift.
If you discover you made a mistake, don’t worry about it. You can use it as an opportunity to review things with God so you’ll still grow in your gift.
Of course, just because we receive a revelation and understand it doesn’t necessarily mean we should share it.
However, sharing prophecies in this way opens up the door for people to respond well to them. So it’s in everyone’s interest to build up Christ’s body, the church.
Learn More About How To Interpret Prophecy
Learning to interpret prophecy is essential to growth in your prophetic gift.
If you would like to know more about how to interpret prophetic words and pictures, why not join a workshop on the subject?
When you invite me to teach at your church you’ll learn not only the theory but the practice too. You’ll get to practice interpretation of prophecy for yourself and others, in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
Find out more here.