Leading up to the US presidential election, many Christians prophesied that Donald Trump would win a second term as president. Some suggested that he would bring in a red wave if support. Now that Joe Biden has been inaugurated, some of these prophets are admitting that they were wrong and offering their apologies (although some are persisting with their claims).

This raises an important and interesting question. How can a prophet who has made a serious mistake that led many people astray be restored to their calling? No one seems to be discussing this issue, so I thought I would have a go. Here are my first thoughts. I will include some comments on the current situation with the US presidential election, but the principles and processes that I describe will be more general, and relevant regardless of the nature of the prophetic failure.

There are several reasons why the restoration of prophets who fail is really important. Being sorry is not enough. A process of restoring those who made a serious mistake is seriously needed.

Restoration of Failing Prophets

Restoration of a failed prophetic ministry will require radical transformation, but I believe that God can do that if hearts are willing. I presume that some of the prophets that failed will not be able to be restored to a true spirit led ministry, and some will not want to be restored because the want to continue pursuing nationalistic political power. However, some will have regretted the path that they have taken, and they will need help to be restored. I assume that some of these will have begun with a genuine gifting and love for Jesus, but got distracted by political power. The elders in their church might be struggling to restore them right path and be uncertain about what the process should be. I hope that these notes will help them.

The form of the restoration will depend on the level at which the prophetic person is operating. Whatever level the prophet is operating in, the restoration process should be sufficient to satisfy God, so that the Holy Spirit will be willing to speak through them again.

1. Prophetic People

Most prophetic people will be operating in a church giving personal prophecies to the people they encounter. If they make a mistake, they should try to learn from it. If they make persistent errors, either in the content, or the delivery, of their message, the elders of the church should challenge them and establish a process for their restoration and development. They might need to stop prophesying for a time to get their approach to their gifting sorted. They might need to stop posting on social media for a time.

Stepping down will be humiliating for a person who gets their identity and sense of worth from their ministry. A growing prophet should always be walking the grace of Jesus, so the people overseeing their development must be careful to be restorative, not punitive.

The failing prophet might need to spend time with a pastor development must be careful to be restorative, not punitive.

The failing prophet might need to spend time with a pastor identifying the sins, hurts or false beliefs that have caused their prophetic efforts to go wrong. They might need to pause from prophesying until their pastors or prophetic mentors agree that they have resolved the issue and healed their hurts.

God has given elders of the church responsibility for watching over the body of Jesus and gently restoring those who lose their way (Act 20:28; Gal 6:1-2). We cannot leave problems in the church to God and assume that he will sort them out. The Church cannot just ignore prophets that fail and hope they will sort themselves out. That is a task that elders should be doing in partnership with the Holy Spirit.

When they begin to prophesy again, the restored prophet might need to have another prophet or pastor accompanying them at first to check that they are not slipping back into the same mistakes. The prophet might need to keep away from the particular type of message that has tripped them up until they have grown in their giftings.

After they have completed a probation period, the prophet should be freed to prophesy freely again, as the Holy Spirit leads. The Holy Spirit delivering clear and effective words through them again is the best sign that the prophet is restored.

Restoration does not require perfection. We are all human and growing towards maturity. We often will not reach that goal until towards the end of our lives, because there are always new things to learn and sins to cast aside. So, when a prophet makes a serious mistake, it would be wrong to expect them to achieve perfection before they can operate as a prophet again. Rather, the goal should be to deal with the immediate cause of their prophetic failure, whatever it was. It is not necessary to deal with every imperfection the prophet's life, because that would take a lifetime.

The goal is to deal with any obstacle to the prophet moving forward in their calling.

2. Prophet to a Church

Some prophets who fail will have been operating formally as a prophet to their church, and perhaps an associated group of churches, casting vision for the church and challenging the elders to press on to achieve all God's purposes. A more formal role will usually need a more formal process of restoration.

Regardless of the seriousness of their prophetic failure, the prophet acting in this role will probably need to step down from their role in the church. They might possibly continue operating as an elder but halt their prophetic role. They should talk and pray with the other elders to discover why things went wrong. If sin is at the heart of the problem, they will have to repent and seek forgiveness. If the problem is emotional hurt, they will require prayer for healing. If the cause of the problem is false beliefs, these should be challenged and replaced with a clear understanding of God's will and purposes.

The prophets and the elders should come to a detailed agreement about both the problem and the pathway to restoration. The prophet will have to agree that they made a mistake. This will sometimes be difficult for the prophet to accept. They will also need to agree with the elders about the cause of their mistake. A situation is not helped if the elders discern a vulnerability, but the prophet does not acknowledge it.

The prophet and the elders must agree on what needs to be done to resolve the identified problems, and the steps on the pathway to restoration. If there are multiple causes, multiple solutions will be needed. The prophet and the elders should agree on the steps or signs that show that a particular problem is resolved and the person restored.

The restoration process might include an apology to the people affected for the harm done to them.

The steps in the pathway to restoration should usually be written down, so both the elders and the prophet understand what has been agreed. However, to protect the confidentiality of personal stuff, it probably should not be made available to the rest of the church, although they might talk attempt to talk to everyone who has been affected by the failed prophecies, unless their number is too great (due to television or internet exposure).

It might be legitimate for the elders to publicise the agreement if the prophet fails to follow through on the restoration plan, or later goes back on their confession of a mistake, or returns to an approach that was wrong, (however all relevant employment laws should be complied with). The elders should agree that after the prophet has proved themselves thoroughly, the agreement will be destroyed. It should not be kept around forever to bludgeon them for mistakes later in their ministry.

When the elders of the church are assured that the prophet has completed the restoration process, they might inform the church that this has been done. This would be particularly important if the prophet has a big media profile.

A prophet to their church will always work closely with the other elders. Most decisions will be made by consensus. When it is agreed that sufficient restoration has occurred, the prophet will be able to take up their role again. The elders will continue watching over the prophet and provide prayer support and encouragement. They will work together to ensure that the prophet grows to their full potential.

3. Prophet to a Nation

Only a few of the prophets who fail will have been called to operate as a prophet to their nation. The role of prophet to a nation is a challenging one on many levels, so few are called to it. I have described it more fully in Prophet to a Nation. The prophet with this calling should be settled in a church where the other elders understand the calling and free them to move into it. The calling is not a full-time job, because often there will be nothing for them to speak. While they are waiting for the season when God wants to speak to the nation, they should continue to work in the church or business world.

Speaking to the nations, or the rulers of their nation, is a tough task, so the prophet needs strong prayer support and encouragement from the other elders in the church. They will need other prophetic people around them who they can bounce ideas off and trust to test their words when this is needed. They might need to be challenged about a direction they are taking. In the age of the Spirit, a prophet to the nation should not be operating in isolation as in the Old Testament.

The Holy Spirit will usually only lift prophets up to speak to their nation if they have achieved a high level of maturity, so mistakes should be relatively rare. However, because the political and spiritual pressures are much greater when operating at this level, mistakes will occur from time to time. The government-spirits that control nations will be vicious in their attacks on those who challenge their power, so even with strong spiritual support, prophets to their nation will occasionally make mistakes.

Too many people have stepped up into a role as prophet to their nation before God has finished his preparation. Many made mistakes because they were not prepared for the role they were taking. Some of those will need to review their calling.

God only needs a few prophets speaking to each nation. Hundreds or more speaking become a cacophony of confusion that can easily be ignored. Three or four, speaking a consistent message from different perspectives, will be more effective.

When a prophet makes a mistake when speaking to the people of the nation or to the leaders of the nation, the consequences are more serious than for other prophets. These mistakes give people of the world a wedge to condemn the church, and to complain about God. This is why prophets to their nation who fail have an even greater need to stand down and pass through a process of restoration (this will be similar to the process described in the previous section)

When the prophet to the nation makes a mistake, their sense of failure will be greater and their pain more intense. If the consequences are bad, the spirit of the prophet could be broken, and they might feel like giving up. The shame of the failure might prevent them from prophesying again, but we do not want these failed prophets becoming too cautious and careful, as it could hamper God's work on earth.

The people helping to restore the prophet should be sensitive and compassionate, so they don't add to the condemnation that they are already carrying. They will need wisdom and insight to understand why the prophet misheard what God was saying and got his message wrong. A person is unlikely to have been called to be a prophet to their nation without God having done some serious work in their life, so it is less likely that the problem will be sin or emotion hurts, although pride could be a problem that leaves a prophet open to deception.

I suggest that the flaw that is most likely to cause a prophetic failure at the national level will a false understanding of the way that God works in the world and how his plans are being accomplished through nations. In prophetic blind spots, I have described some of the common blind spots that can cause a prophet to the nation to make mistakes when speaking God's word.

I am fairly certain that with the US presidential election, a false understanding of the role of political power was the primary reason that the prophets got it wrong. If they understood that God does not bring in his Kingdom by using human political power, they would not even have bothered predicting the outcome of the presidential election, because they would understand that it does not matter for God's purposes.

The restoration process for the prophet to their nation will have two aspects. The first will be the correction of their incorrect understanding of the way that God works in the world. Dealing with the problem will require study and discussion about God's purposes. They might need to take advantage of people outside their circle, or at least read their writings, to get a different perspective and change how they think. Some study of political theology might be helpful.

At the same time, the elders will be praying that the Holy Spirit will release insight and encouragement to the prophet who failed. They urge him/her to keep prophesying and encourage him/her to persist in their calling. If the prophet is sensitive, dealing with the discouragement and lack of confidence might be the hardest part of their task. Correcting the prophet's understanding is pointless if they give up on their calling.

Delivering a prophecy to a nation will be a challenging experience for any prophet. Getting it wrong publicly will shake their confidence in their ability to hear God. The prophet will have received the word that later proved to be incorrect in the same way as they have received all the other words they have shared, so being wrong will make them doubt their ability to hear accurately. If the elders respect the prophets calling, they will want him/her to continue in it with confidence, but greater discernment.

The restoration process will usually depend on the type and seriousness of the failure. The purpose of the stand-down and probation period must be the restoration of the prophet to their calling, so it must not be set in a punitive way. The elders do not necessarily need to publicise the scope and the scale of their probation period, but the prophet might choose to explain to people why they are having a pause from prophesying to their nation.

Many Christians in the US are really upset that the people of the world assume that the big-name media prophets who have behaved badly in the current season represent them because they have claimed to speak on behalf of God in Jesus name. I can understand their frustration at the way Jesus has been misrepresented and they feel like they have been tarred with a very ugly brush. The prophets who admit their mistakes will probably need to apologise to other Christians for the embarrassment they have caused.

Dazzled by Power

The biggest danger for a prophet to a nation is being dazzled by political power. The prophet can easily fall into pride because they enjoy having an influence on the powerful people in their nation. They begin to enjoy being in the room when big decisions are being made.

Being dazzled by power seems to be the main reason that many prophets failed during the latest episode during the American presidential election. Too many were dazzled by political power and came to believe that they could influence it to advance the Kingdom of God. They were dead wrong.

Moses and Paul are great examples. They are the two people with the greatest achievements in the scriptures, yet they remained humble and ambivalent about political power.

Being dazzled by prophetic power is a big problem for the prophetic movement.

Without an understanding of the futility of political power, prophetic involvement in the political system will be on shaking ground. Fascination with political power can prevent Christians from seeing what God is trying to do. They will tend to get obsessed with getting the right people into power because they fall for the deception that the next election is the most important in their nation's history. This is a political lie designed to enhance political power.

Political power has become an idol for far too many prophets. God will not use an idol to advance his purposes. Faith in political power leads them to focus on changing the political leaders of the nation in the false hope that this will bring the Kingdom of God closer. Unfortunately, most efforts to bring political change usually lead to disappointment.

God does not work through political power. His Kingdom cannot be established by political power. Jesus never suggested that his Kingdom could be advanced if the centurion who demonstrated faith when his servant was sick was appointed governor in Pilate's place. He focussed on advancing his own Kingdom.

The accumulation of political power amplifies the authority of government-spirits in the spiritual realm. This means that political power is actually an obstacle to God achieving his purposes. He prefers to work through thousands and thousands of small kingdom communities in local neighbourhoods because that stretches the resources of the spiritual powers of evil so thin that they become ineffective.

Prophets who have been dazzled by political power will need to humble themselves and develop a clearer understanding of how God works in the world. Unless they change their way of thinking about political power, they will continue to be vulnerable to deception. This will be a huge challenge for the prophetic movement, which will be difficult to overcome. I suspect that many prophets will struggle to do it.

Big Man Problem

A big problem in the current situation is that many of the prophets who go the election wrong are pastor-leaders of big churches. They are at the top of a hierarchy, so there is often no one close enough to challenge them. The people in their church will be committed to their message and style. These sheep who look up to them as their pastor will quickly forgive them.

If the pastor-leader does change direction, or admits that they were wrong, they will get a very negative reaction from the people who have followed them. They don't want the person that they have trusted with their lives to admit they are wrong, because that would undermine the foundation of their life. Not surprisingly, when a few of the big name prophets have admitted they were wrong, they have received a very hostile reaction. In this context, a restoration will be impossible to manage.

The church needs these leader to keep on leading and preaching so that programs will keep going, and the money will keep on flowing. Asking one of them to step down for a season would be hugely disruptive. It is hard to see how an effective restoration process could take place. For example, three days after I received an email with a link to Kris Vallotton's video of his apology, I received another email promoting his latest book called "Spiritual Intelligence". I was struck by the huge disconnect, and wondered if a chapter about being wrong was missing from the book, but I also understand that his publisher would be putting on pressure to ensure that sales of the book do not flag.

I have always been uneasy about prophets becoming the pastor-leader of a church, or a pastor leader relying on his wife to be the main prophet to his church. In these situations, it is almost for the prophet to take time out to participate in a process of restoration if they make serious mistakes.

Prophetic ministries working in isolation are dangerous. If these prophetic leaders are restored, they should be restored in a safer leadership structure. The New Testament model is elders who are pastors, evangelists and prophets submitting to each other and leading together in unity. There is safety in the prophetic elder submitting to the others. The same applies to pastors and evangelists.

When prophets who have made a mistake, they should be restored to a leadership model that is based on balanced ministries submitting to each other. We need a radical change in the leadership model adopted by the church. That is a much bigger problem for the church, and is outside the scope of this article. However, I have described a leadership model that can better support the prophetic ministry in Being Church Where Live.


Sometimes a prophet will refuse to admit that they were wrong. They will make excuses or blame other people for the failure of their prophecy. The most common excuse will be that the prophecy was not fulfilled because people did not pray enough. Another common excuse is to say that a prophecy was not fulfilled because God's people did not obey the prophecy.

Some prophets will avoid admitting the failure of their words by spiritualising their prophecies. For example, in America some are saying that Trump is still the president with God's anointing, and that Biden is not a real president, because he does not have God's backing. But they did not say this would be the situation when they prophesied prior to the election, so it sounds like special pleading.

A prophet that refuses to acknowledge that they have made a mistake over an important issue is a serious problem for the elders of his/her church. The elders cannot force the prophet to acknowledge a mistake if they refuse to do it. They may have to agree to disagree, but this will undermine their trust of the prophet.

If the prophetic error had serious ongoing consequences, they might need to distance themselves from the prophet. If the consequences are dangerous, they might choose to tell the church that they no longer trust the recalcitrant prophet. However, this should be the last resort in only the most serious situations. One incorrect prophecy does not justify the breaking of relationships. A series of mistakes on important issues with serious consequences is a different issue.

In the case of the big name prophets who made prophecies about the US presidential elections and are refusing to acknowledge that they are wrong, but are persisting with their claims, church leaders might need to stand apart from them and declare publicly that they perceive them to be failed prophets.

A prophet who refuses to acknowledge mistakes and accept correction is on a path to becoming a false prophet. I suspect that some of the big-name prophets in America are so committed to nationalism and political power, that they will not be able to admit they were wrong. This a dangerous place to be, because there can be no restoration without repentance. Those who have made an idol of political power, zionism or nationalism are actually leading their people into idolatry and have become false prophets. Sadly, unless they renounce their idolotry, they probably cannot be restored.