A personal prophecy should always confirm what we already know in our hearts. It is dangerous to build one’s life and make important decisions based solely on prophecies. This was dramatically illustrated in the lives of two of the greatest revivalists of all time.

Wesley’s Strange Word to Whitefield

Twenty-six-year-old George Whitefield sat on a ship ready to sail for America from the port of Deal, located approximately 70 miles southeast of London. For some time, he had experienced a compelling call to preach the gospel to colonial America and now the day for his departure had finally arrived. His heart was filled with gratitude, excitement, and expectation.

As he waited for the ship's crew to hoist anchor and sail, a letter was delivered to him from John Wesley who had just returned from Georgia. He opened the letter and was stunned by what he read.

Wesley had written, “When I saw God, by the wind which was carrying you out, brought me in, I asked counsel of God. His answer you have enclosed.” The message Wesley had enclosed was, “Let him return to London.”

Whitefield was shocked and momentarily confused. Wesley was ten years his senior and had been a mentor to him. He held the Wesley brothers, John and Charles, in very high esteem. However, this word from John contradicted everything he believed about his call to America.

He Finds the Answer in God’s Word

As he prayed there came to his mind a story from the Old Testament where a prophet lost his life because he listened to the words of another prophet instead of diligently adhering to what God had told him.

I Kings 13 contains the story of an unnamed prophet to whom God spoke and instructed to go to Bethel and prophesy against the idolatrous altars that had been established there by King Jeroboam. God instructed him not to stop to eat or drink but to return directly home to Judah when he had completed his assignment.

Based on this directive from the Lord, the prophet went to Bethel. As he prophesied against the idolatrous altars as instructed, they miraculously split apart and the ashes were poured out on the ground. As a result of that miracle and a miracle of healing for King Jeroboam, the king invited the prophet to his home. He refused and recounted to the king what the Lord had told him.

But as he departed Bethel, an old prophet, who heard of what had happened, saddled his donkey and caught up with the prophet and invited him to his home to eat and drink. When the first prophet recounted to him what the Lord had instructed him, the old prophet said, I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, “Bring him back with you to your house that he may eat bread and drink water.” The old prophet, however, was lying.

Contrary to the instructions given him by the Lord, the prophet went back with the old prophet. While they were eating, the Spirit of the Lord came upon the old prophet and he prophesied to him that because of his disobedience he would not be buried in the tombs of his ancestors. Sure enough, upon leaving the old prophet’s home, he was met by a lion in the road, which killed him, fulfilling the old lying prophet’s prediction of his demise because of his disobedience.

As Whitefield prayed about Wesley’s letter, this story was powerfully impressed on his mind and heart. He knew that God was highlighting to him the importance of obeying the directions he had received from the Lord and to not listen to this word from another party, even such a respected one as John Wesley.

Three Powerful Lessons From This Story

It turns out that Wesley had “cast a lot” concerning whether Whitefield should go to America. This was something Wesley and others practiced, if after diligent prayer they were unable to discern the will of God.

Exactly how he cast the lot is not clear, but it may have been as simple as putting two sheets of paper in a bowl on which was written, “Proceed to America” and “Let him return to London” and then drawing the one that said, “Let him return to London.”

Hindsight is 20/20 and it is abundantly clear that Whitefield made the right decision in ignoring Wesley’s prophecy and sailing for America. He ignited the Great Awakening that transformed Colonial America and prepared her for statehood. Because of the massive crowds that attended his meetings, he became the most recognizable figure in colonial America and has been called “America’s Spiritual Founding Father.”

There are three powerful lessons to be derived from Whitefield’s experience:

1.    We are not to be led by lots, omens, or fleeces, but by the Spirit of God within our own hearts (Romans 8:14).

2.    Prophetic utterances are to be tested, even when they come from the most esteemed among us.

3.    We must be confident in our own ability to hear God and know His will.

This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt’s latest book entitled, Prophets and Prophecy. The book is available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.


  1. Thank you for this timely and lesser known incident from history and even the Bible, will keep it tucked in my spirit.

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  3. "A personal prophecy should always confirm what we already know in our hearts." Actually, the origin of this teaching that all prophecy must confirm only is from an open vison of Jesus Kenneth Hagin had while in recovery at a hospital in texas. It is not true. It is an ideal but not the real. I have received prophecies and given them which neither I nor the person receiving the prophecy had any inner witness that they were true. The Bible does not teach this at all. It is an error commonly taught in Word Of Faith camps. We never have the complete picture and time and time again when I have given Pastors Words of caution, they later told me honestly that they never saw this thing I warned them about coming. To assume when giving a prophetic Word that the person receiving it will have or lack an inner witness to it truth is simply a large gamble. Here is what the Word says about it. Isaiah 48:6 Now I will tell you new things I haven’t mentioned before, secrets you haven’t Heard.

    7 Then you can’t say, “We knew that all the time!”
    The Lord told me that was an inward witness. He said we are not led by a prophet's ministry; we are generally LED by the Holy Spirit through an inward witness. And the inward witness is something every believer can have. ( PAGE 124 I Believe in Visions)Earlier versions of this book say prophecy is for confirmation only.

  4. Thanks for sharing this. I've heard many people say that prophecy is only confirmation of what I already know. It's been said so often that one would believe that it's scripture.