Prophets are targets of spiritual information, but they are supposed to become rivers, not reservoirs. The information is usually not for them personally. So when prophets or prophetic people internalize information that is not for them personally, they take on responsibility and attempt fill roles they are not graced or gifted to take on.
Elijah, Jonah, and John the Baptist are classic examples. Daniel and Ezekiel, on the other hand, seemed to avoid this pitfall rather successfully. We see a short season with Samuel grieving over Saul that should cause us pause: New Testament prophetic ministry tends to function personally and may offer prophets more concern about internalizing for that reason.
The number ill for leaders is pride, and certainly prophets are victimized by this deception. No prophet is perfect, and weakness become an opportunity for attack. The temptation or attraction toward pride is strong. Instead of remaining purely prophetic in function, prophets tend to use their ministry create the need for themselves, become a source, and assume they can solve every problem in life with their gifts. Internalizing causes them to take on people’s problems in ways that moves them off their grace-flow. They mix opinion into the revelation because they take on the burden of fixing people and situations when their role doesn’t include that responsibility. They jump to conclusions about their assignments desiring to have more authority in order to provide more help and create more change. In this way, they attempt to become a source for things outside the scope of their function.
Prophets are rarely appreciated at all let alone appreciated equal to their real value! They are often misinterpreted and misunderstood. They are often ignored or ridiculed by people who need to diminish their voices, fearing their revelations will undermine the need for them or erode their leadership. Prophets tend to respond by claiming their rights and immediately open themselves up deceptions of pride based upon what they deserve: “I should be heard more and believed more and appreciated more and included more…”
Prophets internalize people’s problems and make them their own, rehearsing them over and over, becoming a bit obsessive about fixing people or taking them on as projects. The internalizing will exhaust them emotionally and mentally, distract them from receiving pure revelation, and press revelation intended for someone or something else into the more immediate needs they have taken upon themselves.
Having some answers for some things doesn’t equate to having all answers for all things. Being so amazingly right about one thing because of revelation doesn’t equate to being amazingly right about everything. Prophets tend to convince themselves they can give every answer when they cannot. God hides things from prophets. God gives some answers to other people. God will reveal things to prophets but forbid them to speak what they know. God will position prophets to shrug their shoulders and say, “I don’t know” in the same way someone who has a powerful healing anointing may have a close friend die of cancer.
Internalizing other people’s opinions of their words or function will bring prophets to bring them into criticism and martyrdom syndromes. They become “suffering prophets” when they aren’t really suffering. They will tend to treat common information the same way they treat revelation information, investing it with dramatic importance and significance it doesn’t deserve. They will build themselves a movie set in which they are spotlighted when the audience isn’t even looking at them. They will turn mole hills into mountains because the only way to be as important and needed as their pride tells them they are is to have something of great significance to talk about.
When all you have is something insignificant but your need to be needed is great, you will turn that insignificant thing into a monstrosity. Prophets often do this with leaders to get a place at the table, struggling to discover something significant in order to play with the big boys or get a place at the decision-making level. Of course, they often do have revelations that concern nations, cities, and groups of people, but they may not have such revelation every day. So, seeing a tree on fire becomes their “I just saw a burning bush and Moses is coming” opportunity when God just revealed that a relationship was “going up in smoke.”
I have heard two hundred tsunami dreams and visions for Florida. Many of the people who have them attempted to get a heavenly frontpage headline with the revelation by insisting God is going to destroy our state. They are really disappointed, like Jonah, when that doesn’t happen to make their little-known insight a major historic event: “You heard it first right here from this prophet of God. Turn in next week for another big kingdom moment.” Probably 90% of the tsunami dreams and visions are valid, but they do not necessarily mean that God can’t wait to wash Florida off the map, and the internalizing of prophetic slights and disappointments feeds the deception that because they aren’t being given proper validation and attention, God is going to show up and show off to prove they were right all along.
Isolation and Internalizing
Internalizing is one of the reasons prophets should not be allowed to function in isolation. Functioning in a company or within a team helps prophets with flow-through. I have created a forum for our Eagles to function in order to encourage them to flow their personal revelation life through the forum. This helps establish healthy habits and disciplines that speak directly to prophetic functionality. Among these disciplines is journaling and writing through communication. I do this myself almost every day, and I strong encourage all prophetically functional people to do so at every level of the revelatory process.
Flowthrough will help stop internalization issues. Isolation will make them much worse, much faster, with greater detriment. In fact, any New Testament prophet isolated in function vastly diminishes the validity of their ministry and leaves their prophetic conclusion suspect. Most, if not all, of the prophetic dysfunctions from which we presently suffer could be avoided by proper protocols and accountability. God has certainly not given us a function without providing us a healthy way to fulfill it. The protocols enhance prophetic function. Even though some prophets cry, “Limitation!” when protocols are mentioned, the truth is that isolated prophets internalize more and limit their function by their isolation.
I’m not using the term “isolation” to say that prophets won’t or don’t spend a great deal of time alone; I am using the term to speak of their function and flowthrough. Some voices that insist upon being heard singing a solo are really demanding that they receive all the credit, a fallacy of pride and a fault line of internalization.
Without good flowthrough, internalization is nearly guaranteed or inevitable on some level. Prophetic intercessors should be able to “pray it out” and walk away, ready for the next assignment. Prophetic worshippers should be able to “worship it out” and walk away, fresh for the next time of worship. Prophets should have flowthrough that unburdens their souls although they do carry some elements of their prophetic experiences with them.
Personally, when people approach me to ask a question about what I prophesied to them, I first ask them what I prophesied because I don’t usually remember without being reminded and sometimes not even then. Prophetic revelations flow through me. When doing deliverance, what I discern at the time doesn’t stay in my mind so that it is my impression of that person the next time I see them. Having a cluttering of words of knowledge or wisdom would create confusion from session to session of operating in these gifts.
Internalizing is really a communication or expression issue. Internalizing may occur because a person cannot adequately express their true feelings and respond genuinely to life. Pent up internalized things may explode in fits of rage or despair. Behaviors designed to get people to understand us are often bizarre opposites, cries for help, like cutters hoping to be caught and ask why they cut themselves as a desperate cry for release from inadequate self-expression. Usually, when a person overreacts, their overreaction is a clue or symptom. The “straw that broke the camel’s back” can often be the trigger that opened the shut off valve.
For prophets the behaviors may arise from internalizing revelation caused by inadequate flowthrough. I think this helps us understand “Elijah’s run” and his messy misunderstanding about Jehovah’s ability to run the universe. The mountaintop victory isolated Elijah and his inadequate flowthrough lead him to assume that he was doing everything: repairing altars, leading a reformation, killing false prophets, giving birth to rain, running races with chariots, and carrying the whole load for mom, apple pie, and the heavenly agenda. “I, only I, remain,” he tells God as if God needs the update.
“Elijah’s run” is an overreaction, a mad dash into greater isolation from a place of internalizing and isolation. Maybe that’s why God said to go get a successor. Maybe God was saying, “You gotta stop spending so much time alone, Elijah. You are internalizing everything. You need a sounding board or another point of focus. You think you are alone because you spend all your time alone. You started thinking I needed your help running the universe.”
Lesson 1: God reintroduces Himself as Good since Elijah has internalized Jezebel’s attitude to the point that he agrees with her except that he wants God to kill him instead of the wicked witch of the West. The prophet exhausts himself in a frenzy of fear, internalizing the blood and horror of slaughtering four hundred prophets, then runs himself right into his enemy’s words.
Lesson 2: an angel shows up with food and drink. Twice. “Elijah, you ain’t got what it takes to do this on your own. Here’s some food and drink. Take a break, big boy.” God addresses Elijah’s blown-out-of-portion “I gotta do it all” mentality because he was isolated in his intercession.
Lesson 3: fireworks, earthquakes, windstorm, and general display of amazing power that humbles any human being. “Elijah, I know you released My word and it didn’t rain but that doesn’t mean I need your help to run the ecosystems of the Middle East.” God addressed Elijah’s internalization of responsibility because the prophet can’t let go of the role he was filling during the drought. Elijah has altered his identity to include a delusion.
Lesson 4: God isolates Elijah to himself and Divine therapy begins. “What’cha doin’ here, Elijah?” The prophet has walked forty days to find this cave, pointing himself to this destination. Elijah has replaced revelation with his own “good sense of things” now. He didn’t go somewhere on assignment. He went where his good sense of the situation told him to go. Internalizing will ultimately replace revelation with a delusion of “good sense.” Elijah now believes he alone knows what’s going on, what’s to be done about it, and has developed a “give me a cave and bag a’beans” approach to the apocalypse. Internalizing makes your enemy bigger than your God.
Lesson 5: Now that God has Elijah’s attention again, He tells him what to do with the rest of his life. Elijah’s previous assignment left him short-sighted about his life. He obsessed and internalized until the completion of one task seemed the end of it all when God was just getting started with Elijah’s ministry. Elijah had internalized the entire “no rain until I say so” thing to the point he couldn’t see beyond it. His identity was so wrapped up in it that Jezebel’s words appeared to be part of the scenario, and he had no revelation past the “no-rain, rain” chapter.
I wonder how many times Elijah did a “got too much on my mind with this drought to hear anything else, Lord” when he should have continued with a lifestyle of prophetic flowthrough?