A remarkable answer to prayer in the summer of 1623 led to the second Thanksgiving celebration on American soil.
The summer of 1623 was unusually hot with no rain whatsoever. As the blazing sun beat down day after day the land became parched and the corn, their primary staple, began to dry up along with other vegetables they had planted. Alone in the New England wilderness, it looked as though hunger would be their lot in the days ahead, and maybe starvation. It was a very critical moment in time.
Facing such drought and bleak conditions, Bradford called the Plymouth community to a day of “humiliation and prayer” (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 34-35). By “humiliation” he did not mean a groveling or self-flagellation, but recognition of and repentance for the human tendency to trust in one’s own human strength and ability, rather than in God.
Their day of humiliation and prayer began like the many preceding days, very hot, with not a single cloud in the sky. But before the day was over, God gave them, Bradford said, “a gracious and speedy answer, both to their own and the Indians’ admiration that lived amongst them” (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 35). Bradford goes on to say,
For all the morning and the greatest part of the day, it was clear weather and very hot, and not a cloud or any sign of rain to be seen; yet toward evening it began to overcast, and shortly after to rain with such sweet and gentle showers as gave them cause of rejoicing and blessing God. It came without wind or thunder or any violence, and by degrees in that abundance as that the earth was thoroughly wet and soaked . . . which did so apparently revive and quicken the decayed corn and other fruits as was wonderful to see, and made the Indians astonished to behold. And afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving ((Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 35).
The Pilgrims’ habit of setting aside special days for prayer, fasting, and thanksgiving became a part of the cultural experience of New England and was practiced by succeeding generations. From there, it found its way into the American culture where their influence in this regard is still seen today.

This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's book, Pilgrims and Patriots, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.



The Pilgrims treated the native people with dignity, love and respect. During their first year in the New World, they established peace treaties with several tribes in the region, including the Wampanoag, the most powerful of the tribes. These treaties opened the way for free intercourse between the two peoples and led to much visiting back and forth, both for trade and friendship. This led one unnamed Pilgrim to write back to England,
We have found the Indians very faithful in their covenant of peace with us, very loving and ready to pleasure us. We often go to them, and they come to us. And we, for our parts, walk as peaceably and safely in the wood as in the highways of England (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 33).
Their first face-to-face encounter with an American Indian was in the spring of 1621 when two English-speaking natives, Samoset and Squanto, visited the Plymouth colony. Squanto, whom Governor William Bradford called “a special instrument sent from God for their good,” instructed the Pilgrims in farming, hunting and fishing. This was life-saving, for in England they had been craftsmen and townspeople and without these new skills, they would not have survived in the wilderness of New England.
The First Peace Treaty Signed on American Soil

Squanto also arranged a special meeting between the governor of Plymouth, William Bradford, and Massasoit, who was Chief of the Wampanoag. Massasoit arrived at the plantation with sixty of his warriors, and the Pilgrims received him with the respect they would have shown a dignitary in England.
They ushered him to a building where they seated him on a special green rug with three or four cushions. Bradford then arrived and after exchanging cordial greetings, they had a drink together and discussed the need for friendly and mutual relations.
Bradford and Massasoit agreed on a peace treaty, promising mutual friendship and security. According to Bradford, it included the following:
1.    That neither Massasoit nor any of his people would do harm to any of their people.
2.   That if any Wampanoag took away anything from the Pilgrims, Massasoit would cause it to be restored, and they would do likewise.
3.       That they would aid one another in the event of an outside attack on either.
This first American security pact opened the way for trade and free movement between the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims. Within a year, the Pilgrims had signed similar peace treaties with several other tribes. Meantime, the treaty with the Wampanoag was kept faithfully for over fifty years, until Massasoit’s son, Metacom, became Chief. He was better known in history by his chosen name, “King Philip.”
After the treaty was signed, Massasoit returned to his place called Sowams, which was located about forty miles from Plymouth in what would be present day Barrington, Rhode Island. Squanto, however, remained with the Pilgrims as did Samoset, Hobomok, and possibly other natives. Their assistance to the Pilgrims was invaluable, serving them as guides and interpreters, and showing them how to farm, fish and hunt.
Natives Join the First Thanksgiving
As the Pilgrims completed the final gathering of their crops that first fall of 1621 in the New World, there was a sense of thankfulness in many hearts. Just a few months prior, they had been living on the edge of starvation and wondering if they would survive. Now they had plenty, plus peace with their neighbors.
Governor Bradford, therefore, declared a certain day to be set aside as a Day of Thanksgiving in which to “rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors." Word of the event soon spread and many of their Native American friends arrived to participate in the celebration. 
Massasoit himself arrived with ninety of his people to participate in the festivities. It soon became obvious that they would need more food, so Massasoit and his men went out and killed five deer and dressed them for the feast.
One can only imagine the emotions that filled their hearts as, in the presence of their new Native American friends, they joined Elder William Brewster in lifting up their hearts in praise and thanksgiving to God.
The Pilgrims did not seek to force their faith on the Indians, but neither did they hide their faith. After all, in the Mayflower Compact they had clearly stated that they had come to the New World for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.

The day turned out to be more than they could have imagined. Not only did they enjoy meals together with thankful hearts, but they eganged in shooting matches, foot races and various forms of friendly competition. It was such an enjoyable time for the Pilgrims and their Native American friends that the one Day of Thanksgiving was extended to three full days (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 34).
The Pilgrims Treat Native Women Fairly and Justly
Indeed, the first generation of immigrants to New England treated the natives with what Dr. Samuel Eliot Morison called “a combination of justice, wisdom and mercy.” Numerous examples of this are found in the account of the unnamed Pilgrim in Mourt’s Relations, which is a collection of several Pilgrim journals first published in 1622.
The unnamed Pilgrim tells of Squanto leading several of their number to the Massachusetts tribe and acting as their interpreter. The Pilgrims wanted to trade with them, especially for furs. There was a great market for beaver fur back in England and they saw this as a way to pay off their debt to the businessmen who funded their journey. They also saw it as a way to establish friendly relations with the natives, whom they hoped to reach with the Gospel.
In their journey, they came across a group of native women working with corn and wearing beaver coats. Squanto, the writer says, wanted to “rifle” the women and take their furs. “They are a bad people and have oft threatened you,” he said. The Pilgrims replied, “Were they ever so bad, we would not wrong them, or give them any just occasion against us” (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 32).
They insisted that the women be offered a fair price for their furs, and Squanto complied. The women agreed to the price, removed their beaver coats, and then wrapped themselves in foliage.

Obviously relieved and impressed at how they were treated, the women accompanied the Pilgrims back to their boat. Noticing how the native women were very careful to cover themselves, the writer further commented, “Indeed, they are more modest than some of our English women” (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 32).

A Pilgrim Saves the Life of Massasoit
In March of 1623, Bradford received word that Massasoit, Chief of the Wampanoag, was sick and on the verge of death. Not being able to go himself, he appointed Edward Winslow to lead a delegation to represent him and the Plymouth colony.
Winslow and his companions arrived to find Massasoit very ill, having lost his sight but still able to speak. As they conversed with the help of an interpreter Winslow noticed “corruption” on Massasoit's tongue. Obtaining permission, he scraped Massasoit’s tongue and mouth. He then went out and cut some sassafras root, which he boiled, strained through a handkerchief and gave to Massasoit to drink.
He repeated this process and in a short time Massasoit was feeling much better and his sight returned. He then asked Winslow to make some English stew such as he had enjoyed at Plymouth. His recovery was remarkable and he asked Winslow if he would help his people who were suffering the same sickness. Winslow, therefore, spent an entire morning going from one lodging to another, scraping their mouths and giving them sassafras tea to drink.
Many visitors had come to see Massasoit during his sickness and Winslow said that a day before he arrived another native chief told Massasoit that he could now see how hallow-hearted the English were in that they had not come to see him. But upon his recovery,  Massasoit  declared, “Now I see the English are my friends and love me; and whilst I live, I will never forget this kindness they have showed me.”
Massasoit and his people were overwhelmed with the kindness shown to them by Winslow and the other Pilgrims, and and they could not thank them enough. “While we were there," Winslow said, “Our entertainment exceeded all other strangers.”
Englishmen Executed for Murdering a Native
Around 1630 there began a mass exodus of Puritans from England to New England and they founded the the city of Boston and the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Most were devout Christians but mixed in with them were a few bad apples who came to escape trouble in England or were just looking for adventure.
In 1638, three such characters were involved in the murder of a Narragansett Indian from Rhode Island whom they encountered in their travels. One of their number stabbed him several times with a knife and took the furs and beads for which he had traded. They left him for dead, but the injured man revived and was able to make his was back to Rhode Island where he died shortly thereafter.
The wounded man’s people complained to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and its governor, John Winthrop. The officials of the Bay Colony decided that the crime had occurred within the jurisdiction of the Plymouth Colony and turned the case over to Bradford and the Pilgrims.
Bradford sent investigators to Rhode Island to interview the man before he died, and he told them who had attacked him. The three men were arrested and tried before a jury in Plymouth. As evidence was produced before the jury, the three Englishmen all confessed to the crime.
The Pilgrims believed in the dignity of all human beings and based on Old Testament law they believed that anyone who would take another’s life without just cause, should forfeit his own life. Showing their belief that the life of an Indian is just as valuable as that of an Englishman, the jury found the three men guilty of murder. The jury then ordered them to be executed, probably by hanging, for their crime.
A number of the murdered man’s Narragansett people travelled to Plymouth to observe the execution. Bradford said the proceedings gave to them, and all the country, much satisfaction and the sense that justice had been done.

This is Why They Loved the Pilgrims
This incident demonstrated how deeply committed the Pilgrims were to treating the Indians justly and fairly and it made clear that their other acts of kindness were not mere window dressing. This is why Native Americans trusted and loved the Pilgrims. Sadly, succeeding generations did not have that same commitment toward the native people.

This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's book, Pilgrims and Patriots, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. Dr. Hyatt is an author, historian and Bible teacher. His passion is to reconnect America's severed Christian roots and he does this by conducting "America Reawakening" events in churches and conferences, which consists of a PowerPoint presentation that documents how America was birthed out of prayer and spiritual awakening. He can be reached at dreddiehyatt@gmail.com.


America’s national “Thanksgiving” holiday is rooted in the nation’s radical Christian origins and the custom of its first immigrants to set aside special days for giving thanks to God for His goodness and blessings. This custom was carried on by succeeding generations and eventually found its way into the national consciousness and calendar.
The Pilgrims Maintain an Attitude of Gratitude

The Pilgrims who landed on Cape Cod in November of 1620 were devout followers of Christ who had left the comforts of home, family and friends to pursue their vision of a renewed and reformed Christianity. Although facing insurmountable challenges and much suffering they maintained an attitude of gratitude through every trial.
They were a thankful people. They never wavered in their faith even during their first winter in the New World (1620-21) when sickness ravaged their community and half of them, about fifty in number, were taken away in death.
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims the following fall of 1621 after they had gathered in their fall harvest. Although their hearts were still heavy from the losses suffered the previous winter, there were at least three areas for which they felt particularly grateful to God.
1) With the arrival of spring the sickness that had immobilized the community and taken many of them in death had lifted. Their health returned, and although sad from their losses, they were able to apply themselves to carving out a home in the New England wilderness.
2) With the arrival of spring God providentially sent to them an English speaking Native American, Squanto, who became their interpreter and guide, helping them establish friendly relations with Massosoit, chief of the Wampanoag, the nearest and most powerful tribe in the region. In March of 1621 they had signed an agreement of peace and mutual aid with Massosoit, which resulted in both peoples moving freely back and forth in friendship and trade.
3) Through hard work and Squanto’s advice about farming and fishing (they were mostly townspeople and craftsmen) they experienced abundant harvests during the summer and fall of 1621.
After gathering in their fall harvest, which was abundant, Governor William Bradford designated a Day of Thanksgiving during which they would pause to offer up thanks to God for his mercy and blessings. They were not whiners. They were not complainers. They were the ultimate optimists because of their faith in God and their firm belief that He had called them to this New World.
Englishmen and Native Americans Celebrate Together
The first Thanksgiving was attended by an approximate equal number of English Pilgrims and Native Americans. After Bradford announced the Day of Thanksgiving, word of the event soon spread to their Native American friends. So when the day arrived, not only were there individual natives on hand, but Massosoit arrived with ninety of his people, and five dressed deer to add to the meals the Pilgrims had prepared.
The Pilgrims did not seek to force their faith on the Indians but neither did they hide their faith. After all, in the Mayflower Compact they had stated that they had come to the New World “for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.” Their approach was what some modern missiologists would call “friendship evangelism.”
One can only imagine the emotions that filled their hearts as, in the presence of their new Native American friends, they joined Elder William Brewster in lifting their hearts in praise and thanksgiving to God.
The day turned out to be more than they could have imagined. Not only did they enjoy meals together with thankful hearts, but they engaged in shooting matches and other friendly forms of competition. It was such an enjoyable time that the one Day of Thanksgiving was extended for three full days.
The Nationalizing of a Day of Thanksgiving
Special days of Thanksgiving continued to be observed by the Pilgrims and new immigrants, especially those who settled in New England. As the colonies began to form themselves into a nation, these days of Thanksgiving began to be nationalized and made part of the national consciousness and calendar.
For example, during the fall of 1776, when the morale of the Revolutionary Army and the American populace had sunk to an all-time low because of poor harvests and hardship on the battlefield, Congress proclaimed December 11, 1776, as a Day of Prayer, Fasting and Repentance.
After this National Day of Prayer, there was an amazing change of circumstances with successes on the battlefield and the reaping of abundant harvests. There was, in fact, such a turnaround that in 1779 Congress issued a proclamation setting aside a Day of Thanksgiving because “it hath pleased Almighty God, the father of mercies, remarkably to assist and support the United States of America in their important struggle for liberty” (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 124).
The Congress then listed seven different accomplishments of God on the behalf of the nation, including “many instances of prowess and success in our armies” and “so great abundance of the fruits of the earth of every kind, as not only to enable us to easily to supply the wants of the army, but gives comfort and happiness to the whole people” (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 124).
This Day of Thanksgiving was observed throughout the newly formed nation with people gathering in churches and other public venues to give thanks to God for His mercy and help in their time of need.
George Washington Continues the Tradition
Shortly after being sworn in as president, George Washington issued a proclamation designating November 26, 1789 as a Day of Thanksgiving wherein all citizens should offer gratitude to God for His protection, care and many blessings. It was the first Thanksgiving Day designated by the new national government of the United States. The proclamation reads in part;
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Abraham Lincoln Proclaims a Day of Thanksgiving
A Day of Thanksgiving to be observed on the last Thursday in November was proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War. In spite of the fact that the nation was at war, Lincoln enumerated the many reasons the inhabitants of America had for being thankful to God. He wrote,
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that these blessings should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.
The final Thursday in November, set by President Lincoln, continued to be the observed “Thanksgiving” until December 26, 1941 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the national Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday.
Concluding Thoughts
This national holiday that we know as Thanksgiving was brought forth by people of faith who knew the importance of nurturing a thankful heart in every situation. It was their faith in God that enabled them to be thankful even during the greatest of trials. They maintained an attitude of gratitude through it all.
This Thanksgiving let’s remember our heritage and determine that we too will be a thankful people, as were the spiritual foremothers and forefathers who brought this nation into existence. Let’s follow them and the words of the old hymn that says,
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's book, Pilgrims and Patriots, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. Dr. Hyatt is an author, historian and Bible teacher. His passion is to reconnect America's severed Christian roots and he does this by conducting "America Reawakening" events, which is a PowerPoint presentation that documents how America was birthed out of prayer and spiritual awakening. He can be reached at dreddiehyatt@gmail.com.


Many years before socialism brought about the collapse of the Soviet Empire and devastated the nation of Venezuela, the inadequacies of socialism were demonstrated right here on American soil. The Pilgrims who landed at Cape Cod in the fall of 1620 at first attempted a communal type of living but disbanded it when it became obvious their community could not survive with such a system (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 36-38).
The Pilgrims Experience the Pain of Socialism

The Pilgrim’s journey to America was funded by a group of venture capitalists who provided the ship and supplies for their journey to the New World. In return, the Pilgrims agreed to live communally with everyone receiving the same recompense for their work, and with everything above their basic necessities going into a common fund to be used to pay their creditors.
William Bradford, who served as governor of Plymouth for many years, told of the challenges of this socialist system. Young men, he said, resented getting paid the same as older men when they did so much more of the work. As a result, they tended to slouch and slack since they knew they would receive the same no matter how hard they worked.
The older men felt they deserved more honor and recompense because of their age and resented getting paid the same as the youngsters in their midst. Because everyone received the same no matter how much they worked, the women often refused go to the fields to work, complaining of sickness and headaches. To have compelled them to go, Bradford said, would have been considered tyranny and oppression.
This socialist system discouraged work and innovation and created an atmosphere where strife flourished. When it became obvious that lack and perhaps starvation would be their lot, Bradford and the leaders of the colony decided to make a change. After much prayer and discussion, they decided to dispense with that part of the agreement with their creditors that required them to live communally until their debt was paid.
They Experience the Gain of Free Enterprise
According to Bradford, they then divided the land around them, allotting to each family a certain portion that would be theirs to work and use for their own needs. Bradford said there was an immediate change. The young men began to work much harder because they now knew they would eat the fruit of their own labors.
There were no more complaints from the older men for the same reason. And now the women were seen going into the fields to work, taking the children with them, because they knew they and their family would personally benefit.
Instead of lacking food, each family now grew more food and corn than they needed, and they began to trade with one another for furnishings, clothes and other goods. They also had enough excess to trade with the Indians for furs and other items. In short, the colony began to prosper when they got rid of their socialist form of government and implemented a free, entrepreneurial system.
Of their experience with socialism, Bradford wrote;
This community [socialism] was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort . . . and showed the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s, and applauded by some of later times, that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 38).
Christianity and Capitalism
Bradford believed that socialism did not work because it ran counter to God’s will for humanity in a fallen world. Because of mankind’s fallen state, he cannot be expected to labor for no reward. In Scripture, God rewards individuals for their labor and good works. Capitalism works because it is compatible with the reality of human nature and the world in which we live.
For capitalism to fully succeed, however, it must function in a strong Christian milieu. Otherwise, the strong and powerful will trod underfoot the weak and poor. Capitalism worked for the Pilgrims because they were a compassionate people who looked after those in their midst when they were sick, injured or unable to work.
True Christianity brings a compassion that helps the weak and poor, apart from initiative-destroying government programs. This is what happened in the early church and is what happened with the Pilgrims, who wanted to emulate that church.
Socialism Deifies the State
Modern socialism is rooted in Marxism, where faith in God is replaced by faith in government. The state is deified and becomes the all in all for the society. The people are taught to look to the government to solve every problem and meet every need. This in turn requires a ruling elite, like the old Soviet politburo, that controls every facet of society, which is why Walter Williams, Professor of Economics at George Mason University, says, “Socialism is just another form of tyranny.”
In Marxist/socialist thinking, faith in God is seen as an enemy to the state. That is why, during the twentieth century, millions of Christians were imprisoned and put to death in socialist/communist regimes such as China, Cambodia, Cuba and the Soviet Union. The god of socialism is a jealous god and will tolerate no rivals.
Socialism has a terrible track record, which makes it amazing that so many of the younger generation are buying into it. Noting that socialism has been kept alive in the secluded environs of university campuses, Thomas Sowell, opined, “Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.”
The Christian Responsibility
I will never forget visiting eastern Europe shortly after the fall of the Soviet Empire. I was struck by the grey, drab environment. Even the buildings seemed so plain, flat and lackluster. It was obvious that the Marxist system had robbed the people of life, energy and creativity. I am reminded here of the words of Winston Churchill, “Those who do not learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”
As Christians, our responsibility is to call people to Christ and help them live out their Christianity in the real world. Living out our Christianity means a life of responsibility, not looking for government hand-outs but working and prospering in a way that we can give a hand-up to those in need. 

We desire the best for the greatest number of people which is why we must reject the contemporary vision of a government-mandated socialist system in America. After all, that is the economic system that almost destroyed the Pilgrims.

This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's book, Pilgrims and Patriots, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. Dr. Hyatt is an author, historian and Bible teacher. His passion is to reconnect America's severed Christian roots and he does this by conducting "America Reawakening" events, which is a PowerPoint presentation that documents how America was birthed out of prayer and spiritual awakening. He can be reached at dreddiehyatt@gmail.com.



During the tumultuous Kavanaugh hearings, a person who considers himself a prophet tweeted that Kavanaugh would be rejected and that President Trump would replace him with Amy Barrett who would be confirmed to the Supreme Court.
When it did not happen, I was reminded of an early Pentecostal revivalist who said that God took a chance when He spoke through Balaam's donkey because there was a real danger, that from then on, "every time that jackass brayed, he would claim that it was God speaking through him." LOL 
Although I do not know this person, I suspect that he is not a false prophet, just a mistaken one. The source of this prophecy was, no doubt, not the Holy Spirit, but his own soul, that is, his own mind, feelings and emotions.
Discerning Between Soul and Spirit
There are three possible sources for a prophecy or spiritual manifestation: (1) From the Holy Spirit who dwells in the reborn spirit of the believer; (2) from a demonic spirit; (3) from the human soul, i.e., the mind, will and emotions. I am convinced that many prophecies we are hearing from Christians today are from neither God or the devil but are from the human soul.
It is, therefore, of utmost importance that we learn to distinguish between soul and spirit. The spirit is the innermost part of our being and is that part that is regenerated when we are born again. It is through our human spirit that we have an awareness of God and the spirit realm. In born-again believers, the spirit is the place where the Holy Spirit dwells and, therefore, the place from which gifts of the Holy Spirit originate and flow.
The soul, on the other hand, consists of our mind, will, and emotions. It is the seat of the personality—the ego—and is that part of our being that gives us self-awareness. The soul, i.e., mind, will, and emotions, can be moved by a variety of outward stimuli.
Good music, for example, has the power to stir positive emotions of love, nostalgia, and compassion apart from the Holy Spirit. Likewise, a gifted orator can stir emotions and move people to behave in ways they otherwise would not. These, however, are mere feelings of the soul and have nothing to do with the Holy Spirit.
Although some think of the soul and spirit as being the same, the New Testament makes a clear distinction between the two. In I Thessalonians 5:23, for example, Paul says, May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hebrews 4:12 clearly says that the soul and spirit are two distinct entities and that only the Word of God can divide the two. Making a distinction between soul and spirit can be very helpful in discerning the source of a prophecy or spiritual manifestation.
Our spirit is sometimes referred to in Scripture as “the heart.” For example, Jesus was speaking of the human spirit when He said, He who believes on Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water (John 7:38). Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit who would dwell in those who believe in Him and from whom would flow gifts of the Holy Spirit.
How We Mistake Soul for Spirit
Those who are zealous to be used of God and see His power, will often mistake the stirring of their emotions for the Holy Spirit. This is what John Wesley was referring to, when on October 29, 1762, he cautioned a colleague who was mistaking his own thoughts and imaginations for the Holy Spirit. Wesley said;
I dislike something that has the appearance of enthusiasm, overvaluing feelings and inward impressions; mistaking the mere work of imagination for the voice of the Spirit, and undervaluing reason, knowledge, and wisdom in general (Hyatt, Angels of Light, 49).
Many today mistake emotional highs for the presence of God. A “revival” service could be the product of skilled musicians and a savvy preacher stirring people’s emotions. R. A. Torrey (1856-1928), a successful revivalist himself, was referring to such “soulish” revivals when he wrote,
The most fundamental trouble with most of our present-day, so called revivals is, that they are man-made and not God sent. They are worked up (I almost said faked up) by man’s cunningly devised machinery—not prayed down (Hyatt, Angels of Light, 49).
Soulish Prophecies
A young man shared with me about a puzzling and discouraging experience he had with prophecy. He had gone with a small group to pray for a woman who was in the last stages of terminal cancer. As they stood around the bed and prayed, he sensed what he believed was God’s presence and he prophesied to the sick woman that God had heard her prayer and was healing her.
He really felt the prophecy was from God, but just a few days later she died. He was embarrassed and confused. How could this happen? How could he have been so wrong?
I could share numerous stories like this where well-meaning people have given what they sincerely believed was a word from God, but that word turned out to be false. These are usually well-meaning people who desire to be used of God but have never learned to distinguish between their soul and their spirit.
The young man mentioned above did not distinguish between soul and spirit in the prophecy he gave. No doubt, his natural feelings and emotions were moved by seeing the woman lying in bed and dying of cancer. He believed in Divine healing and desired so much to see a miracle of healing.
These, however, were natural feelings of the soul and not from the Spirit of God. He was moved out of his own natural feelings to give the prophecy. He gave what I call a “soulish” prophecy—a prophecy borne out of one’s own feelings and emotions. He was not a false prophet, just a mistaken one.
Prophecy Must Be Initiated by the Spirit
I Corinthians 12:11 clearly states that gifts of the Spirit, including prophecy, are given, as He [the Spirit] wills. Contrary to the biblical model, however, some teach that believers can prophesy at their own volition or will. I heard one well-known “prophet” insist that, just as it took Pentecostals several decades to discover that they could speak or pray in tongues at will, many in the body of Christ are now discovering that they can prophesy at will.
Proponents of this teaching point to the fact, that in 1 Corinthians 14:15, Paul says, "I will pray with the spirit," an obvious reference to praying in tongues. They give emphasis to the "I will" in this passage and reason that if one can will to pray or speak in tongues, then one can also will to prophesy.
This is poor hermeneutics and ignores the context of Paul's discussion. When Paul says, "I will pray with the spirit," he is referring to the private, devotional tongues in which he wills, or chooses, to pray. He distinguishes between private, devotional tongues in which he prays at will and the public manifestation of tongues that requires interpretation and comes forth as the Spirit wills, a very important distinction.
The idea that one can prophesy at will has resulted in many "prophets" operating out of their soul realm (mind, will and emotions) rather than from the Spirit. This leads to failed prophecies with the prophet often seeking to justify the failure. It can be devastating for young Christians who had received the prophecy as the word of the Lord.
Closing Advice for Would-Be Prophets
1.    Stay humble. Recognize you are not perfect. If you miss it, be willing to admit it. Do not try to justify yourself when you are wrong.
2.    Have integrity in the operation of prophecy and Spiritual gifts. I have observed individuals who had become very adept at "reading" people and then giving a word that the recipient could easily apply to his or her own situation. Avoid that temptation.
3.    If you are not sure of the source of what you are sensing, just say, “I feel to share this with you.” Don’t take on the identity of a “prophet” to the point where you think you must begin each statement with a “thus saith the Lord.”
4.    Don’t try to use the Holy Spirit, let the Holy Spirit use you.
5.   Develop an awareness of the difference between your soul and spirit and contend for a pure flow of the Holy Spirit in your life.

This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's latest book, Angels of Light, available from his Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.