Preparing for a Move of the Spirit | 03 Pray & Act

We’ve talked about a couple of aspects so far that I believe are imporetant if we’re preparing for a move of the Spirit. Examining our motives and removing obstacles. Today we’re going to look at two more. These may seem a little contradictory. They’re not. Let’s take them one at a time.

PRAY

Prayer is vitally important to a move of God because when we pray we are yieleding our preferred path, our preferences and asking for the Lord to come and do what only He can do. Nothing is so important. We could never conjure, manifiest or manipulate a genuine move of His Spirit. So we must come together and pray. There is still value in waiting before the Lord. We tend to be in a hurry. We live in a busy world, when we have prayer time, perhaps it’s IF we have prayer time, it is often fit into our schedule at our conveinence rather than prayer being a priority and defining our schedule. Often our “Jesus time” is fit into tight structures and timeframes. We’ll read the scripture quickly, and pray for a few needs and then move on with our day. I do believe any time is better than no time, but quality time is better than measured time. Quality time is not determined, by length but by substance. When you spend time with the Lord are you really present? Is your focus completely on Him? Are you fully surrendered to His purpose? From time to time there is value in simply lingering in His presence, waiting with no agenda other than to be with Him. When must prioritize His presence over our agenda. There is power when people who are surrendered and yielded to His purposes begin to pray for a move of His Spirit.

ACT

I believe the final step in our preparatino process is to act. I know I just said we should wait, linger and pray for Him to move. No action we take can cause God to do something. We should wait in His presence, but let’s be active in our waiting. Let us do what Jesus taught us to do as we engage with the world around us. Let’s love the people that cross our path. Let’s meet needs in the lives of those we can. Be about the Father’s business. Give Him the opportunity to move through you in your world. I truly believe that God wants to move through your life more than in your church service. Sometimes I wonder if we want God to move in our services more than we want Him move in our community. God gives power for His purposes. If we are not a people about the purposes of God then what do we need His power for? When we partner with His Spirit, follow His leading and have the confidence to engage our world, we give Him and opportunity to demonstrate His power. When we ask people if we can pray with them, we give God the opportunity to respond.

FINAL THOUGHTS

We should often examine ourselves. Are our motivations genuinely aligned with the Lords? Are we are fully surrendered to His purposes rather than our own? Have we removed any and all obstacles that could disrupt the flow of His Spirit? If so then we must begin to pray, really pray for God to move. Finally we must step out in faith and give Him the opportunity to do just that. When we seek for His power to accomplish His purposes, we will not be disappointed. God is wanting to pour out His Spirit in this world, but I don’t belive He is looking to repeat Himself. As our culture is so rapidly and radically changing, we must stop expecting the next great move of His Spirit to take place in our church buildings. We must get out into our world and truly be about building the Kingdom of God rather than the Kingdom of the American church. My final challenge to all of us is simply to lay down expectations and allow God to do what only He can do.

Preparing for a Move of the Spirit | 02 Remove the Obstacles

Desiring a move of the Spirit is not enough. God is looking for a heart fully surrendered to Him. Once we’ve examined our motives and sought to align our hearts and expectations with Him we need to further examine ourselves for any and all obstacles that could prevent us from receiving from the Lord.

Remove the obstacles

I’ve often heard the Spirit’s move compared to the rushing water of a river. Well, God is looking for a vessel through which He can freely flow, unobstructed. There are many things that could obstruct the flow.  Removing the obstacles speaks to purity.
Matthew 5:8 (NLT) God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NLT) In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. 21 If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.
Joshua 3:5 (NLT) Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.”
To be pure is to be unmingled with the world, set apart for God’s use and God’s use alone. This requires a preparation process in our hearts. Where have we allowed obstructions? If we are expecting God to move then now is the time to honestly take a look and remove anything and everything that could obstruct the flow of God’s Spirit. There are many things that could cause an obstruction, I’ve narrowed it down to a few of the most common categories; sin, offense/disunity, distraction, focus on self, critical sprit/cynicism.

1. Sin

This is obvious, but sin can be sneaky. If we aren’t vigilant we can allow small things into our hearts without even realizing it. We know that sin separates us from God, so it isn’t a surprise to say that if we are allowing sin to take root in our lives that it will be a hindrance to what God is wanting to accomplish. At its simplest definition, I would define sin as anything that would hurt someone or yourself. That can take many forms. There are addictive sins, the ones we turn to over and over again that usually are harmful to ourselves and eventually very harmful to those closest to us. There are actions we can take against someone else, either by being unkind or even intentionally malicious. Then there are the things we should be doing, but choose not to do, like when we disobey God by ignoring the prompting to go and pray with someone. Some sins are big and obvious, some are small and seemingly insignificant. All sin needs to be removed. I think the smaller sins are the most dangerous because they don’t require a lot of intentionality, they are usually are natural inclination. This is why we must be vigilant to daily surrender our lives in pursuit of Jesus. 2. Offense/disunity This one is possibly the most dangerous on this list and incredibly relevant in todays world. People are more divided than ever and in the church, it’s incredibly easy to let offense take root in our lives. Sometimes one wrong comment or look, which may have been completely meaningless, is enough to raise the ugly monster of offense. The enemy wants us to be a hot mess of disunity. People who are divided cannot accomplish the work of God’s Kingdom effectively. We must put aside our offenses, be quick to forgive, and come together for God’s purposes. It is truly loving to overlook offenses.

3. Distraction

Our attention span is shrinking. The latest studies suggest that we now have an average attention span of 7 seconds. That’s less than a goldfish, people! It is certainly easy to allow other interests to take our minds and focus away from pursuing God’s purposes. We live in an ADD world of entertainment, there’s tons of it! I love it too. I don’t think it’s wrong to be entertained, but if our quest to quelch boredom prevents us from pursuing all God has for us then it becomes sin. There’s plenty of other things that could distract us as well, politics, drama, celebrity gossip– anything that fills our mind and consumes our talk could become a distraction and an obstacle to God pouring out His Spirit. There are times when we need to stay focused and allow God to work in our lives. There will be mornings when we need to hold off starting our day and just sit in God’s presence. There will be services where we need to put off our rush to leave and be patient, focusing on the Lord and prioritizing His presence.

4. Focus on the Self

We’ve already talked about our motivation, is it to have a powerful service, or is it to fulfill the purposes of God? Revival isn’t about you. If my primary focus is what I will get out of it, what I will experience, what I want, then I am missing something very important. God promises to pour out His Spirit on His people, on nations. I don’t see anywhere that tells me it’s for me individually. I believe our focus should be on how a move of His Spirit would benefit not only our church but our city, our nation, our neighbor. Will I benefit individually? Yes, but if that is my motivation and I give no thought to those around me then the focus on myself becomes an obstacle to the move of His Spirit.

5. Critical spirit/cynicism

Let’s be honest, when God moves sometimes weird things happen. I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t like weird. I do believe that we can serve Jesus and not be weird. Sometimes we over-spiritualize things like prophecy to the point that I have to wonder if they can have any real impact to those who don’t know Jesus. It’s easy to be critical of things that we don’t understand. It’s easy to become cynical about many many things. If God showed up in a way that seemed foreign, or you didn’t know what was happening, or if things seemed a little weird, would you criticize it? If we’re not careful we can critique what God does to the point that He can’t do anything in our lives. I don’t like to admit it, but God can use weird to transform lives. Of course, sometimes weird is just weird. We must discern the difference if we hope to see God move. I believe if we examine our motivations and begin to remove these obstacles we are positioning ourselves to be receptors when God pours out His Spirit. Of course, ultimately only God can pour out His Spirit. We can, however, pray and be ready when He does. We’ll talk more about that Thursday, in the third and final part of this series.

Preparing for a Move of the Spirit | 01 Motives & Expectations

The power of God is difficult to explain. How do you describe something that is so completely beyond you? I grew up in an atmosphere that was full of His power. You could sense it in the air, but also see it in the fruit that was produced. Lives were transformed, people came to Jesus. Since then no matter what church I’ve been at, people talk about revival, longing for a move of the Spirit.

Of course, not everyone means exactly the same thing when they use those words. Our definitions are colored through the lens of our experience. Some have grown up hearing the words without ever experiencing it. At times there are certain services where it’s like God is breathing into them and those who long for His moving lean in and whisper, “this is it.”

It wasn’t. 

What will it take? When will we experience a move of the Spirit? There isn’t exactly a magic formula we can concoct. We can’t force God’s hand. God will move, in His timing and in His way. Still, I want to share four key steps I believe we must take if we want to experience a move of the Spirit. Examine your motives, remove obstacles, pray, and act.

Examine your motives

Our WHY is such an important factor in everything we do in life. Why do we want a “move of the spirit”. The way some people talk makes me feel like they are mostly concerned with having a powerful church service. I’m not against a powerful church service, but is that why I want the spirit to move? Am I more interested in an electrically charged environment than building His Kingdom?

I believe that God will not send the Spirit among a people who are not about the purposes of the Spirit. That is to say God sends His power for His purposes. If our goal is to experience great power, but never do anything to impact our community for His Kingdom then our desires are misaligned. 

I think another area where our motivations occasionally miss the mark is in our expectations. Sometimes when we say we want to experience a move of God what we are really saying is we want to recapture something from our past. What if what God is wanting to accomplish today looks differently, feels differently, functions differently? Are we willing to lay down our expectations and follow where He leads?

Personally, I have long believed that what is coming, will be very different than what has been done. I don’t believe the next great move of God will be central to one location, but take place in the common areas, unexpected areas. I think we need to move away from trying to cultivate an atmosphere that draws people to us and take the power of God to where the people already are.

I often wonder, what is it we are really hoping for? When we pray for revival what is it you want to see? I hope that our heart’s desire is to see God accomplish His purpose in whatever manner He desires. I pray we will be a people who will follow wherever He leads and put His Kingdom over our own comfort. (Luke 9:57-58)

I believe if our motives and expectations line up with His then we are so much less likely to be disappointed when it doesn’t “happen.” 

We will continue our preparation for a move of the Spirit with “remove the obstacles” in the next post.

A Great Display of Power

Fireworks. Roller Coasters. Explosions. Great Storms. These things draw our attention because they are powerful and cannot be contained. When we see something beyond ourselves, when we see such a great display of power our attention is captured and we stand and watch. When the power of God is displayed it has a similar affect. It catches the attention of all who witness and they stop and stare.

I am convinced that the power of God is coming and coming soon. Everywhere I turn it seems people are talking about the altar. The place where we encounter God. The place of surrender. The place where we lay down our lives to be crucified with Christ and for His life to placed in us. God is going to restore power to the church!

It’s incredible! The power of God is not confined to a single church. I believe it is about to break out everywhere all at once! I don’t claim to know the mind of God, but I feel there is about to be a great display of His glory for the very intention of drawing in as many as possible.

Recently I was reading in Acts 3 of the time Peter and John were walking by the temple and a lame beggar was asking for money.

Acts 3:4-9 (NLT) Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!”The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”

Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.

All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God

God’s demonstrated power often attracts attention. The people ran over to see what this man was going on about, and they were shocked to see that it was the same man who always sat outside the gate begging for money. God’s power met a need in the beggars life and then He also used the situation to bring many people to Him.

Peter saw an opportunity to tell them what happened. He boldly told them that this miracle happened through Jesus, YES, the same Jesus you murdered on the cross. He said, hey, I know you didn’t realize what you were doing, but you can make it right. REPENT and turn to God so He can forgive your sins!

The gospel is still the same, God is open and waiting for us to repent and turn from our sins so He can forgive us! The message is simple, but effective. Peter and John may have been temporarily arrested after this moment, but thousands more were added to the church! When they were freed they prayed this prayer.

Acts 4:29-31 (NLT)  And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. 30 Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

31 After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.

I believe many people in the near future are going to encounter God in a powerful way, but it will happen when Christians get bold and start praying a prayer fueled by faith that God will once again send miraculous signs. We must be praying for Heaven to invade earth.

Isn’t that what this whole thing is about? Bringing people to Heaven! Let’s live with heaven in mind. Let’s once again fall to our knees in prayer and intercede for souls to come into the Kingdom. Let’s once again get bold in declaring our faith! Unashamedly laying hands on the broken and those in need.

Let’s believe for provision, miracles and most importantly a great harvest.