How to Fail Well in Healing and Prophecy

When it comes to healing or prophecy, many people are terrified to step out because they are afraid of getting it wrong, or having nothing happen when they pray. I understand this fear, I’ve let it control me at times. If you’ve followed this blog for the last month, you have heard many testimonies of God coming through in a big way. Today, I want to share some of the times when it didn’t work out so well, because I want to encourage you to keep going for it even if you blow it.

Failure Was All I Knew

When I was 17 practically all I did was work, do homework, and pray. As I prayed, I daydreamed about pulling people out of wheelchairs in the grocery store. I imagined myself preaching the Gospel with boldness as blind eyes opened, and deaf ears began to hear, and every type of miracle you could think of manifested to glorify the name of Jesus. My experience, however, was quite different.

While I fed my soul with testimony after testimony of God’s miraculous power being displayed in spectacular ways all over the world, I saw none of it. Hearing testimonies stirred my heart to jealousy. I would get fired up after hearing some new story, and I would go and look for people to pray for at my job, but my only experience was miserable failure. No matter how many people I prayed for, no one was healed, no one was saved, no prophetic words came to me, nothing. Every prayer I prayed was seemingly met with stony silence from Heaven, and a total lack of any tangible results.

When Healing Didn’t Come

I remember praying for a woman in hospice with stage 4 cancer. She lay on her hospital bed in her living room cheerful and full of hope. I tried to work up as much faith as I could muster. (No, that isn’t how faith works. More on that in another post.) I placed my hands on this precious woman of God and raised my voice in authority as I rebuked this cancer. I began to call upon the Lord to heal this woman. She died a week later. I was crushed. I wish I could say that was the only time I prayed for someone who eventually died of the thing I prayed for, but it certainly wasn’t. I’ve seen many people come to me for prayer who walked away disappointed. Each time it is a heartbreak.

I once prayed for a Muslim man suffering from intense migraines in a gas station. He was incredibly open to hearing about Jesus and even wondered who had sent me to pray for him, because he had just been thinking about Jesus and whether Christianity really was true. I was so confident he was healed after prayer, that I thought he was lying when he told me his headache was still there. I prayed for him several times but to no avail. I was more than a little peeved and confused when what seemed like the perfect alley-oop for Jesus turned out to be a dud.

Who’s to Blame?

I can’t blame God in these situations. This was never Jesus’ experience. I’ve never read in the Gospel where Jesus prayed for someone and didn’t see them healed. He never turned anyone away who came to Him for healing. Everyone who came to Christ left whole. If Jesus is the perfect representation of the will of the Father, that means it is God’s will to heal all who come to Him. That means I can’t hide behind the false comfort of God’s timing, God’s “mysterious ways”, or even the lack of faith of the individual seeking healing. After all, how much faith does a dead person need in order to come back to life? So that means the problem was mine.

My friend, Art Thomas, tells people who don’t get healed immediately when he prays for them that if Jesus were the one praying, they would be healed. I’m not Jesus. I’m being conformed into His image by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the ministry of the Church, but I do not live in perfect fellowship with God’s Spirit the way Christ did. I deal with unbelief, Jesus did not. I don’t always know why a specific person wasn’t healed, while another was, but I do know that if it had been Jesus in my shoes, every person I pray for would be healed. That means it isn’t God’s fault, and it isn’t the fault of the person for whom I am praying.

It isn’t helpful, however, to become introspective. I’ve allowed discouragement to eat my lunch too many times to count. Sometimes after someone wasn’t healed when I prayed for them, I can look inwards to what is wrong with me. I’ll tell you something, if you’re looking for faith, you’ll never find it in your bellybutton. The only place to find faith is looking into the face of Jesus, and being transformed into His image as we behold Him. (See 2 Corinthians 3:18.) When faced with failure in the realm of healing, we need only lift our eyes to Jesus, allow the light of His face to fill our hearts with hope, and keep pressing forward toward victory until the well of healing begins to flow in our lives.

Prophetic or Pathetic?

“Is there a Brittany here who is struggling with depression and suicide?” I boldly asked from the pulpit. This was the largest church I had ever preached in, and I just took a huge risk. I rarely receive names when I prophesy, but I thought I heard God on this one.

“Brittany? Is there a Brittany here?”

Nope. No Brittany. My face began to grow hot and I began to perspire as the silent crowd stared me down. This was hardly my finest moment. To make matters worse, I had called a woman up previously from the congregation and thought I had several words for her. Only one of them landed. Later in the service, the Lord began to speak to me clearly, but those were two very high profile moments where I thought I was hearing God, and I fell flat on my face in front of everyone.

Pride will Stunt Your Growth

If you are wanting to grow in the prophetic, you are going to completely miss it from time to time. If pride prevents you from being wrong occasionally, you will stunt your growth in prophetic gifts. It is helpful to hedge whenever you are stepping out into a risky word. I will usually preface a risky prophetic word or word of knowledge with a statement like “I feel like I’m hearing God on this, but I’m not sure, so tell me what you think.” I typically ask if the word applied to them after sharing.

In an evangelistic setting, where I am speaking with a non-Christian on the street, I usually begin with a few words of knowledge, and I ask if they applied, and tell them to not tell me what they think I want to hear. I’ve had people lie to me in both directions, right or wrong, but I always let the person I’m sharing with be the expert. If I was right, and they said I was wrong, the word still had power because they knew it was from God. One woman was healed of a back issue after telling me when I had the word of knowledge about it that she had no back problems. God healed her anyway. I’ve been wrong before and had people tell me I was right, just to be nice. You cannot live or die by the immediate feedback on words of knowledge or the prophetic, but you must have enough humility to allow the person you are speaking to correct you without trying to justify missing it.

Go Fish

Remember playing the card game, “Go Fish,” as a kid? You had to guess what card was in your opponent’s hand and if the card you guessed was wrong, you had to “go fish” in the pile to try to match your cards. I’ve seen people approach the prophetic this way. They will say things like “Oh, you don’t have a back problem? What about your great-grandmother? Yes? Oh, that’s what I was picking up!” They never allow themselves to be wrong. This is what bad psychics do. We dishonor the Holy Spirit when we pull those kinds of shenanigans. If you’re wrong, be wrong. Now, I’ve had times where I had a bang-on word for someone, but shared it with the person sitting right next to them. In that case, it’s ok to let the other person claim it. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t take it further and ask if the shoulder pain you thought you heard from God actually applies to their neighbor’s grandmother’s dog.

Listen, I’m confident enough to miss a prophetic word because I know who I am in Christ. I’m God’s son, and He loves me. He speaks to me, and if I miss a prophetic word once, that is ok, because I will get it eventually. In the New Testament, the command is to judge prophetic words when they come. (See 1 Corinthians 14:29.) This means that Paul expected people to miss it. If someone delivered an incorrect prophetic word, they were not cast out of the Church. In fact, there was no punishment at all prescribed for getting it wrong. Paul commanded all believers to eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially prophecy. (See 1 Corinthians 14:1.) The pursuit of prophecy implies growth, and growth implies imperfection. If you give yourself no grace to miss it, or if you are in a community which allows no room for error in the prophetic, you will be unable to grow. Be humble, seek God, and take risks. You will eventually tune into the frequency of God’s voice if you don’t quit and are able to receive correction.

Moving Forward

If you want to be used of God in the supernatural, you must be willing to fall on your face. It will happen. Even the most respected and accurate prophet you’ve ever met has gotten it wrong before. Even the most powerful healing minister you’ve ever seen doesn’t have 100% success. If we allow failure to shut us up or stop our faithful obedience, we will never be used of God. On the other side of failure is success if you remain faithful. Shake off intimidation, embrace humility, be willing to miss it, and own it when you do, and God will demonstrate His power through you. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. (See 1 Peter 5:5-6.)

May you be filled with the Spirit as you refuse discouragement, intimidation, and pride and continue to pursue the greatest gifts in the way of love.

Your servant,


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