I thought it would be good to reflect a little on some of the lessons and spiritual things that God has been building into our Spirit Training leading up to the Easter Service. We would have moved quite a significant distance in prayer – if we persevere in the practice of such prayer. Here are some of my thoughts:
1. Generally speaking, the basic premise that we have been making may be stated thus: that prayer in the Spirit originates not so much in the thoughts and observations of our mind and senses, but from the mind of the Spirit, who takes the things of God and reveals them to us. Rather than merely learning to pray more articulately from our natural knowledge, we have been exposing ourselves and pushing our hearts to the reality of God’s prayer which is with “sighs that cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26), at least, in English. This is what we mean by “praying in the spirit”.
In order to enter the River of God’s activity in prayer, worship has played a big part in setting (or resetting) our souls to not begin with lists of prayer items originating from our pressing knowledge of needs and circumstances. Instead, we have been learning to begin, through worship, from the work that the Spirit does in our hearts to tune us to His impress. In worship, we surrender our agendas in order to be ready for God to move us in the direction of His leading. The practice of beginning with worship tunes us to the Spirit’s leading.
This has necessitated our being willing to “sit” in the apparent silence, repetitively praying in the spirit or calling our to Him until He brings clarity, focus, a certain unifying unclutteredness in our souls, or drops a word, a conviction, a passion, a burden, a half-formed something in our hearts. The training involves doing this often until it begins to be second nature. It also takes perseverance and consistency, without which it doesn’t actually develop into fruitful empowerment in ministry. There is no substitute for repetitive and reiterative practice.
2. Recognizing that God probably has been putting people in our hearts for us to pray for them in the spirit to “full term” is also something we have begun to practice before Easter, and will be continuing to carry through praying in the spirit. Living with that reality changes our orientation in life and will bring us into fruitfulness. As we prayed for these precious ones, it has been clear that prayer has taken on a deeper resonance and faith. As we have mentioned, God has called us to bring many children of glory whether we are evangelists or not.
3. Pushing the limits of our prayer just a little beyond where we usually stop is also something we have seen happen especially in the 2 sessions before Easter. This is important as it allows our capacity to be enlarged, and pushes our spirits beyond the level of our current faith. In all this, it is not our own self-directed efforts but God’s drawing us out of ourselves, and further into deeper penetration in the spiritual realm. To a large extent, the depth of effectiveness of our ministry is a function of the penetration of our “pitch” into the spirit realm. We will know more, and minister with more effect as we lean into the Lord’s drawing of us. As Solomon wrote, “Draw me after you and let us run together”.
4. From what I have heard from the Easter Service anecdotally, God moved in several people who were unchurched. This does not mean that they are now churched. The birthing process of intercession and follow-up must continue in order for them to be won to the Lord and incorporated into His body. But a huge move has happened in their lives. One woman who was not a Christian shared that she had received a dream in which Jesus spoke to her that He was the true way. One man from came up for prayer weeping and received Christ, and one unchurched couple was so touched that the husband asked whether he could join our church. So far none of them have turned up on Sunday, but it would be wrong to think that the work was shallow. The spiritual mind of the harvester pursues practically, even as in prayer we are pushing the boundaries.