Ever prayed for someone, for something to happen “right now” in the Name of Jesus and it did not happen? How did you feel? How do you think the person you were praying for felt? Do you know what they were thinking about God, about themselves, about you?
How did you feel and what did you think when you prayed with more passion and the thing still did not happen? How do you think the person you were praying for felt then? Do you know what they thought second or third or tenth declaration round, or the fifth time they were pulled to their feet from a wheel chair, commanded to walk and fell towards the floor in weakness unhealed in front of everyone? What did you think about God or about yourself or your prayer or ministry style or about the Word you believed you had stepped out and acted upon, the instructions from a teaching conference you had followed and were obediently trying to put into practice?
Ever been prayed for by someone who prayed loudly and authoritatively, perhaps within the hearing of others, that something would happen to you “right now” in the Name of Jesus and it didn’t? How did you feel? What did you think about God, about yourself, or about the person praying for you? Do you think the person praying for you knew what you felt or thought? How did the experience affect your confidence and faith to ask for prayer again? Is it still affecting you?
Faith does not ignore fact and should not resent or avoid follow up enquiry and investigation. It certainly should never ignore the vulnerability of people. It does not pretend a satisfactory outcome or blessing has happened if it has not. When we ask our heavenly Father for a fish not only does He not give us a scorpion but He does not say, “Here, take bread instead of the fish you asked for.” He may of course say, “Here’s the bread my child, and let me give you some fish as well!” Yet that is the sort of bartering God that is often presented rather than a trustworthy Father who gives what His children have asked for: “Don’t worry, If you are not healed, you will surely be blessed in some way” is the announcement from the front backed up by predictable applause and cries of “Amen!” It has become a mantra in charismatic circles, but it is not good enough or responsible enough or humble or honest enough, commonly said though it may be.
There is a lot of humble learning and loving to do concerning the giving and receiving of prayer. Please know that I am charismatic/Pentecostal to the hilt as I ask you to think through these things. I have known personally healings, prophetic anointing and calling, Word of knowledge, Discernment of spirits, deliverance, tongues, miraculous appearance of money and oil and gold dust from nowhere, miraculous transportation from one place to another on more than one occasion. I have been slain in the Spirit many times, overwhelmed with the immediate presence of God so powerfully, I knew if I was to live in the eternity of God’s presence I would have to be changed to bear it! Flesh and blood could not enter such an inheritance without perishing. I much prefer to talk about my weaknesses mind you, for these are the places where my encounters with God have been the most treasured. However, sometimes Paul set out his credentials, so there is biblical precedent for my foolishness, though I am not comparing myself with Paul, just sharing in his folly! I share in his other “folly” as well: the preaching of Christ crucified and now gloriously alive and the Coming King.
You see as an insider as it were, as a Charismatic/Pentecostal Presbyterian, it grieves me that the Charismatic movement which once in earlier decades trusted in the unpredictable but trustworthy action of God is now awash with theories and programmes to get the works of God done which seem to produce blessing and great disappointment side by side.
Time to get on our knees, repent of all lack of integrity and lovelessness toward people in their vulnerability. Time to stop pretending things have happened when they have not, or greatly exaggerating true happenings. Time to stop putting so much hope in the books, the conferences, the speakers, the training in everything under the sun and seek afresh the Sovereign life and activity of the mighty God who is fearful in praises and does wonders. So often, things that begin in the Spirit are kept going in the flesh, and by then sadly, there is such deep involvement, commitment of reputations and places and names and resources and finances and such full diaries for years to come, that it is difficult to admit that we are like Samson; we think we can do as we did before but the Spirit of God has left us and we knew it not? Or maybe we did know…..but feared the cost of coming clean and admitting it.
Away with the franchised God of programmes and techniques. Without the event of the Coming of God Himself to be God in the midst, they are powerless, though they are not without value and may make us feel good that we have done something rather than nothing. At least our willingness to learn, even to pay for learning, to commit to whatever programme shows something in us is seeking. My feeling is that seeking is often genuinely provided for, but it can be subject to being fleeced as well. Let’s seek the Father who gives His children good gifts and does not barter until we accept something else we were not looking for. Let’s seek the Son, to come into a fresh revelation of what it means to be “In Christ,” and let’s seek the Holy Spirit until wind and fire uncontrollable, unpredictable, unfranchiseable is let loose in such power that saint and sinner will fall to the ground like dead men and women; until buildings will shake; until communities and continents even to distant islands will be impacted by the going forth of God that no one can trace to a programme, a person, a movement. May God come and blast a hole in all our well worked out theories, if He should so choose; may He use us and our gifting or ministry or set us aside, regard or disregard our work for Him; may He tell us we were right or wrong in all our doings and sincere works and passionate pronouncements and pursuits; may the fire of His holy Presence and the sharp two-edged sword from His mouth pronounce the verdict gold, silver and precious stones, or wood hay and stubble for all to hear if He sees fit; may the One whose coming no man can endure rend the heavens and come down and behave in a completely ungentlemanly way, doing what He wills without meekly fitting in to current cutting edge theological thinking or the sincerest ponderings or planning or experiment, without seeking permission and without the slightest word of apology.
Health or its lack means I no longer have the platform, as it were, to say such things. I hope some may read and run. Oh if even just a few would do that….