God and the Small Prayer Group

Praying Together -- PixabayAre you part of a small prayer group? Does it discourage you that your group is small?

Our human thinking tells us that bigger is  better — especially when it comes to accomplishing goals. We tend to equate larger numbers with more success, more effectiveness. But when it comes to the kingdom of God this is not always the case. The amount of power or answers to prayer does not automatically increase proportionally with the number of people who attend your prayer group.

Perhaps Jesus wanted to encourage us away from the big-is-better idea when He said  in Matthew 18:19, 20, “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father Who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in the midst of them.”

The prayer group we lead is small, with current average attendance being about six of us. We’ve had as many as twelve at one time, but we’ve also gone as low as three some weeks. The most glorious times in God’s Presence, with the greatest sense of having accomplished much in intercession, have actually taken place when there were only a very few of us.

If how many attend isn’t the most important factor in receiving answers, then what is?

Unity — Sometimes it is easier to have common vision and agreement in smaller groups. Unity with the Spirit and with each other is a vital part of receiving the answers we seek.

When Jesus said, “If two of you shall agree on earth,” He was not referring to a half-hearted assent or tolerance of what each other are praying. He was talking about entire oneness of purpose, hearts joining together in faith for what we know is the will of the Father.

Part of achieving unity with each other is coming to a place where we are bonded with each other in love. That tends to happen more easily in smaller groups. Unity is the most important component of effective group prayer.

Attitude — Coming together with an expectancy that we will indeed hear the Lord and receive His answers to our petitions is also vital. A small group of prayer warriors who are committed to doing big business with God when they gather will be effective in changing the circumstances they pray into.

Prophetic Connection — Praying by revelation of the Holy Spirit is also a key factor. However, as much as I value praying according to what we hear from the Lord, that doesn’t mean that only those who are acutely prophetic can receive answers.

God is not impressed with how highly gifted we are in tapping into spiritual revelation. After all, He is the one who distributes revelatory gifts in the first place, so we can’t use what we are gifted in as a merit badge. He does not listen more intently to the highly prophetic person than He does to the brother or sister who less able to hear and see clearly in the spirit realm.

Sometimes people get prideful about how good they are at praying by revelation. They look down their noses at those who are less spiritually perceptive. We can’t do that. Maintaining a humble, fervent heart is more important than getting every last iota of what we pray correct. God sees our earnestness of heart, and He makes up for any deficiencies in our ability to pray correctly.

So, don’t be discouraged if your prayer group is small. God will unite your prayers with those of thousands of other small groups of intercessors across the nation and the world. You please Him by your faithfulness, and He will send you mighty answers as you stick with it.


House of Prayer ~ House of Power, by Lee Ann Rubsam

  House of Prayer ~ House of Power

Did You Know?

 Update:

Thank you to those who came for our May 14 Intercessor Workshop! We had a great time together, and I am so blessed to have had this chance to get together with both old friends and new. May the Lord take us all deeper in Him, and may the workshop bear lots of fruit in all of us!

Thank you!

On March 1, we released my 16th book, Your Intercession Questions Answered.  Many of you bought it, and I want to thank you so much for doing so!

Also, thank you to all of you who have purchased my other books. I appreciate every one who takes time to read the Out of the Fire blog, and those of you who also read my books — well, that’s just extra special.:-)

I have a favor to ask — If you have read any of my books, would you be so kind as to give them a star rating and a short review at Amazon? (A sentence or two is all it takes.) Even if you purchased them elsewhere, you can still review them at Amazon. It would help us TONS in spreading the word!

Reviews at GoodReads, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Kobo, or wherever else you may have purchased them are also much appreciated!

*****************************

Get Our Books at Your Public Library

Everybody loves to read for free, right? (Me too.) Our e-books are available through OverDrive, the major e-book supplier of libraries. But, libraries do not automatically stock every OverDrive title (there are just too many).

If you want your library to offer one or more of our books, just ask your librarian to walk you through the e-book request process.

*****************************

We Now Offer E-Books Directly to Our Customers

For some people, it’s a convenience thing to buy all in one place, especially if they are ordering our audio and print resources at the same time. AND, wherever you are in the world, you can buy them from us without hassle.

Our book products page

We send you both the Kindle and E-pub versions via e-mail. (E-pub is for all the non-Kindle readers.) If you don’t have a Kindle or other e-book reader, you can download free apps to read right on your computer.

Free Kindle reader for PC

Free Adobe Digital Editions for e-pubs

Calibre is another great free e-reader — reads Kindle or e-pubs. You can also change your own Word docs into e-books with it.  Get Calibre

*****************************

For Our International Customers

We no longer sell our print books outside of the U. S. It just got too expensive to ship them, and it bothers my conscience to charge up to twice the price of the product itself for shipping.

Now the good news — You can always buy our e-books directly from us ( mp3 downloads of our audio resources, too). You can also get our e-books from the major e-book retailers you are accustomed to.

The following books are not available in e-book reader format, due to the complexity of their layout:

Character Building for Families,
River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus, and
House of Prayer ~ House of Power

If you live in Canada, the  UK, or EU nations, you can still purchase them as paperbacks through your country’s Amazon store.

Purchase them as PDFs — We offer all of our international customers the option of purchasing these titles as PDFs — very reasonably, too. It is easy to order.  Our product page.

(U. S. customers — Sorry, we only offer these titles as PDFs to our international customers.)

Again, thank you to all of our Out of the Fire readers! I appreciate you so much, and love hearing from you!

Lee Ann Rubsam

Do You Have a Prophetic Calling?

If you are anything like me, you may have been discouraged about your prophetic calling (or whether you even have one!) because of rigid criteria laid out by some teachers on the prophetic. You see the checklists of what a prophetically inclined person is supposed to be able to do, and you think, “I can’t do that … or that … or that. Maybe I am not really prophetic after all. Maybe God didn’t speak to me about this being an area of ministry for me to function in … but I thought He had. I am confused!”

While criteria lists of what a prophetic ministry calling should look like can be useful as general guidelines, they are not written-in-stone commandments which separate the haves from the have-nots! The truth is, we are each unique. Prophetic ministry has many avenues of expression, and you don’t have to excel in every one of them. Contrary to what you might have been led to believe, we are not all going to give words of knowledge and personal prophecies right and left. We don’t necessarily have to publicly prophesy from a church platform. Not all of us will see and hear about major futuristic events on a regular basis.

Do you listen to the Spirit and pray what He shows you? That’s a way prophecy manifests. As you intercede, you might receive unique angles on how to pray for various situations, from the local to the international. This is, in fact, the most common way the prophetic gifts are expressed. And common does not mean mediocre. It is only common because it is so needed in order to establish God’s will on earth, so He pours it into many of us.

You might operate in prophetic counsel. When people tell you their difficulties for which they see no way out, you know exactly what steps they need to take to receive a breakthrough. It’s not that you are unusually smart: you only know because the Holy Spirit is revealing it to you.

You may have a prophetic teaching gift. Teaching and the prophetic are often closely intertwined. This, too, can vary widely in its expression. It could involve a speaking/preaching ministry, but it doesn’t have to. It might instead be carried out through writing on foundational Bible truths under the anointing and understanding of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps God has given you the ability  to mentor people one-on-one or in small groups, based on your past experiences with the Lord and what you are currently hearing from Him. The Lord might use you to show others how to tap into heavenly revelation. What makes you a prophetic teacher is that you do it by the unction of the Holy Spirit, not from head knowledge alone.

God speaks to many of you through dreams. The majority of your dreams will be for you personally, but as you grow in learning to understand your dream language, God may give you information which pertains to more than your own life. He gives you that revelation to help you know how to pray, and, in some cases, as a means of helping others with what you have seen. I have had the opportunity to prophesy into people’s lives based on what God showed me about them in a dream. As you gain experience with how dreams work, you may eventually be able to interpret other people’s dreams for them. Dreams are a powerful expression of prophecy.

Your prophetic ministry may be limited to your church, city, or region. It could go beyond that to national or international affairs. It will often start locally and expand outward from there — but if it never gets beyond your church or city, that does not make you or your gift inferior to those who speak into a larger arena.

If you have a burning desire to be used by the Lord in the prophetic gifts, this is because He really does want to use you that way. Are you an intercessor? Prophetic people love to spend time with the Lord, and intercession is a big part of what they do.  Time spent with God opens the realm of the revelatory to you.

If you would like to increase in your prophetic gifts, try praying Isaiah 11:2, 3 over yourself, something like this:

“Father, I ask that the Spirit of the LORD would rest upon me in the following ways:

  • The spirit of wisdom and understanding
  • The spirit of counsel and might
  • The spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD

Make me to be of a ready understanding in the fear of the LORD: and help me not to judge according to what my physical eyes and ears tell me. As you enabled Jesus to see with Your eyes and hear with Your ears, so do with me.”

I encourage you to do with joy whatever God has given you to do. Use the gifts you do have, instead of bemoaning the areas of the prophetic which you don’t excel in. Don’t try to be someone you are not. The rest of us in the Body of Christ don’t need impersonators of other prophets. We need who you are.

If you need further help, I highly recommend John Paul Jackson’s 4-CD audio set, Developing Your Prophetic Gift, available from Amazon (affiliate link) or from Streams Ministries (mp3 available — much cheaper).

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy

 

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy

 

 

 

Let the Word of God Speak for You

Bible Verse -- FreeImages.com/y0s1a

“Bible Verse,” courtesy of FreeImages.com/y0s1a

Several months ago, the Lord said to me, “Let the Word of God speak for you.” At the time, it wasn’t clear to me exactly how to apply it, but He has continued to remind me of that word and to give me understanding of it.

Here are some ways He is showing me to live it out:

1.)  I let the word of God speak for me in prayer. Reading the Bible consistently and becoming familiar with it is a good thing! But we can get to a place where we know the principles in it so well that we pray from our knowledge of what it says without actually praying specific verses to press our point. We paraphrase the Word in our prayers — sometimes quite loosely.

The Lord has been prompting me to slow down in prayer, take the time to look up the actual verses which pertain to what I am asking for, and pray the words of Scripture as my petition. I read the verse to the Lord and then pray it for my particular need. From there, He often brings to mind another verse which expands on the thought, so I look up that verse, and continue on in prayer with it. I expand on what I am praying by interjecting my own thoughts too, but I start with Scripture and keep close to it.

This isn’t the only way I pray, but it is something I am trying to do more of. It is more work to deliberately open the Bible and pray directly from it than it is to just loosely pray the concepts in it. But, I am noticing that when I do pray Scripture directly, I often feel the presence of the Lord intensely all around me. He loves to hear us pray His own words! And I know my prayers are in alignment with His will. There is great, great power in praying the Word.

2.)  I let the word of God speak for me in what I say in everyday speech. We all say things at times about ourselves and others which line up with how we feel in the given moment, but which are at cross-purposes with what God desires for us or the people He has put in our lives: “I do such stupid things all the time.” “So-and-so is not qualified for _______.” “Just give me the gold medal for being the world’s biggest klutz.”

I used to frequently joke about being spiritually obtuse or being a “spiritual pygmy,” because I was afraid I did not possess the prophetic abilities of many other intercessors in my acquaintance. Joking about it was a defense mechanism of sorts against my feelings of inadequacy.

But the day came when the Holy Spirit firmly spoke, “I want you to stop saying that.” I suddenly realized that I had been hindering my own ability to hear and see prophetically by my wrong declaration and twisted perception of myself. I was opposing the truth of John 8:47, “He who is of God hears God’s words.”

Now, I try to be more careful to say what God has spoken over my life — not what I might feel, or even the negative things some people have said. This goes for both personal words I have received from Him and Scripture promises.

The Lord wants us to quite simply let Scripture be our defense against whatever may assail us in our

  • health
  • relationships
  • finances
  • emotions
  • talents
  • business abilities
  • ministry (etc.)

Declaring what the Bible says in our everyday speech, and refraining from speaking contrary to it, takes effort. Circumstances don’t always change overnight. Negative perceptions about ourselves (or others) don’t usually go away immediately. They are strongholds of the mind which must be torn down brick by brick. The Word of God is the spiritual weapon we use for the dismantling process.

This is an area where I have a lot of growing to do yet, but at least I am becoming more aware of how I need to do things differently. I am learning to editorialize less on how the circumstances look and to speak God’s will as communicated in Scripture instead.  The Word of God is powerful to bring changes to us and our circumstances, if we will purposefully declare it over ourselves and over whatever might be happening to us.

Let the Word of God speak for you.

__________________________

The Intercessor's Companion
Do you need help finding Bible verses which apply to your petitions? Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor’s Companion, is a good place to start. It is a compilation of verses arranged by topics. Available in paperback, e-book, and audiobook formats.

 

Making a Place for God’s Presence (Part 5) — For Worship Leaders

Modified Hubble Image, by Lee Ann RubsamWorship leading has got to be one of the most difficult ministry functions on the face of the planet. It is impossible to please everyone, from the senior pastor to the people in the pew. What if your pastor is telling you that he wants more Presence-oriented worship, or that he wants you to “flow with the Spirit” in worship, but you don’t have a clue how? There are some simple things you can do to get yourself there.

1.)  It starts with having a consistent prayer and Bible reading time. I know, I know. This is too basic, right? But we have bazillions of worship leaders across the nation who aren’t praying and absorbing the Scriptures every day — or, they do a quick five or ten minutes with Jesus. That’s not going to cut it, if you want to be tuned in to the Lord on Sunday morning.

As you pray and fill yourself with the Word, God communes with your spirit. You set yourself up to hear His voice — especially if you ask Him what He wants to say and then force yourself to be quiet before Him. You might not get immediate results, but over time, God will honor your faithfulness to listen for His voice. You will become more sensitive to Him.

2.)  Listen to Presence-oriented worship music. I have personally known worship leaders who listened to a little dab of worship music — just enough to come up with some songs for Sunday mornings. The majority of their listening was secular. You cannot fill your ears with music which does not have the Lord at its center, and then expect to catch the flow of heaven’s sound on Sunday morning.

Furthermore, while the contemporary Christian music on the radio is not at cross-purposes with worshiping the Lord, neither is a lot of it geared toward God manifesting His Presence in church services. Contemporary Christian music tends to be fairly us-oriented, talking about our struggles and weaknesses, with a little bit of “but God and His grace …” thrown in.

So, you’re going to have to fill your spirit up with worship music which not only touches your heart, but God’s heart, too. Do you need suggestions? There is so much available out there! Some great places to start are United Pursuit, Bethel Worship, Gateway, Jesus Culture, Vineyard, International House of Prayer (IHOP-KC), Robin Mark, Lindell Cooley, and Housefires.

3.)  Decide who your audience is going to be — God or man. Years ago, one of our church’s worship leaders decided to drill home to his team the importance of making God their audience. They were a very professional-sounding bunch, but although technical excellence was important to him, having their focus in the right place was even more of a priority.

Twice a month they spent an hour together simply worshiping the Lord with abandon, with no one else in the sanctuary except the Lord. God came down in there! (I know, because I snuck in to experience the Glory!)

If you want God to show up on Sunday mornings, make Him the focus of your worship, instead of how many or few people are there to hear you. Resist the temptation to let the size of the crowd influence your level of worship. Have a passion to pursue God together with the congregation, rather than putting on a performance for them.

4.)  It’s not about style … but it is about style. While people can connect with God through many different varieties of music, some songs are so busy and complicated that the congregation has a hard time taking hold of the Lord with them. It doesn’t all have to be slow and majestic, but it does have to be simple enough so people can sing with you.

One reason I love United Pursuit’s music is because the key concepts in each song are repetitive. Repetitive music with words which extol the Lord’s greatness and our love for Him tend to lead the congregation into a continuing upward spiral of devotion — which He then responds to.

Make sure the words have substance, but still make sense without having to search hard for their meaning. If the lyrics are too cryptic, they distract from focusing on the Lord.

If you can include in your lineup some songs which allow people to close their eyes, raise their hands, and just meditate on the Lord, that’s a good thing, too.

5.)  It’s not about energy or volume. I have heard worship leaders say that God likes it loud, and the louder it is, the more likely He is to manifest Himself. Music which is too soft can make people feel like they’re at a funeral parlor, but while that isn’t going to help them engage, neither will breaking their eardrums. Furthermore, God doesn’t suddenly wake up from a holy coma exclaiming, “Hey! They just cranked it up to where I can hear it way up here. I am impressed! I think I’ll go visit that congregation!” It sounds silly — but we sometimes act like that’s the way it is.

I have also watched worship leaders work themselves and their congregations into a lather of excitement and then announce that “God is really moving!” No, He wasn’t. There is a vast difference between being pumped up in your emotions and sensing the Lord’s Presence with your spirit. Being able to discern the difference comes through relationship with the Lord (see Point 1) and immersing yourself in true worship music (Point 2).

6.)  Prepare for the service during the week by asking God what music He would like to hear when the congregation comes together. He will be pleased that you invited Him into the decision-making process, and He will be faithful to answer — maybe by speaking directly to you, maybe through more subtle means. The Lord has specific plans for what He would like to do in any given service, and when we ask for His input into the choice of songs, we partner with His purposes. That is an exciting place to be!

7.)  Set the mood before the service. Have background worship music playing on CD which sets the tone for what you desire to accomplish once the service starts. Choose music which will make for a smooth transition into your first live song. A little thing like appropriate pre-service music prepares the soil of the congregation’s heart to enter in immediately when you and your team begin to sing.

8.)  Don’t just assume God will show up. Ask Him to. The Lord loves to be invited to manifest His Presence among us. We must maintain a holy awe of Him, where we never take Him for granted. Entreating Him to pour out His Spirit in the corporate gathering builds expectancy in us, too.

You can’t make God show up. That is entirely up to Him. If you try to develop a formula for how to bring in the Lord’s Presence you will offend Him. The song which brings worship to a deeper level one week may fall flat the next, if you’re depending on a method to manipulate God into moving among you.

The key is to make yourself and your church a prepared container, ready for the Lord to pour into. He is eager to fill our congregational gatherings with Himself, if we will make ourselves available to Him.

Previous: Part 4

Making a Place for God’s Presence (Part 4)

Modified Hubble Image, by Lee Ann RubsamLast time I spoke mainly to pastors about making a place for God’s Presence in church services. In this post, I’ll share some simple, practical ways we can invite God into our gatherings — whether church services, home fellowships, or prayer groups.

Develop a habit of expecting God to meet with you. God loves expectant hearts! He might still visit His Presence in your group if you are not expecting Him to, but if you aren’t looking for Him, you might not notice when He first starts manifesting Himself. You could unintentionally shut down the worship right when it’s beginning to cook — because you aren’t paying attention.

Prepare a place for God to show up. Most of the time, it doesn’t just happen. God likes to be entreated to come. We let Him know that He is valued above all else. My husband and I lead a couple of prayer groups in our home, and we definitely feel the responsibility of preparing the way in prayer and worship before people ever get there. We’ve done the same when we led prayer groups in church settings. Here are some ways we prepare a place for the Lord:

1. We fast.

2. We minimize distractions and appointments on days when our prayer gatherings are happening, so that our minds are fixed on the Lord.

3. We plan the worship music for the gathering ahead of time. We don’t have the luxury of a worship leader, so we use music from CDs. This really can work well! But we don’t just throw something together, or play whatever we feel like hearing. We ask the Lord, “What would you like to hear tonight?” I put together a playlist which has been thought out and prayed into. It is worth the time and effort.

4. We begin to prepare an atmosphere of the Lord’s Presence before the other people arrive. Usually, we spend a half hour or more worshiping and praying together, just the two of us. We entreat the Lord to be among us, to make everyone’s heart sensitive to Him, to move among us in the gifts of the Spirit, and to help us be of one heart and mind with Him and with each other. In a church setting, this time of preparing the way for the Lord could be accomplished by church staff joining in prayer and worship together, or an intercessor team, or both.

Preparing for His Presence to come down in the corporate gathering is a lot like a farmer getting his field ready for planting. If he doesn’t do the preliminary plowing and harrowing, sowing the seed will not produce much of a crop.

Teach the people you lead to expect God to show up. Encourage them to prepare a place in their hearts ahead of time to meet God in worship. Creating expectancy in your congregation or group is huge. We encourage our group to fast and pray ahead of time, if possible.

We suggest that, prior to coming, they ask God to give them something to contribute to our meeting. If He does, fine. If He doesn’t give them anything, He probably will sometime during our evening together, because they have prepared their hearts to receive from Him.

We encourage them to spend the ride to our gathering focusing on the Lord, so that they come with reverent hearts, ready to encounter Him. When people thoughtlessly blow into a meeting, it takes longer for them to attune their hearts to the Lord. It affects the ability of the whole group to focus on worship when some of us are distracted and unprepared.

Keep worship as the priority. It is not a preliminary to the sermon or prayer meeting. It is the most important part of the gathering — because honoring God comes above all else. Derek Prince once said, “Worship is not an appendix to the Christian life; it is not a little addition to services. It is the culmination.”

We have had people join our group who were impatient to get past worship and dive right into prayer. They wanted to immediately get to the “doing” of intercession, without taking time “being” in their relationship with the Lord. We have always resisted that, and we always will. We’ve taught them that honoring God is more important than petitioning Him, and that when we do intercede, our prayers will be much more Spirit-targeted (and therefore more effective) if we worship first.

When people connect with the Lord through Presence-oriented worship, their bodies and emotions often get healed during that time of adoring Him. Worship tenderizes people’s hearts so that they can better hear what God wants to speak to them through preaching, teaching, and the prophetic gifts. Worship is the entrance into whatever genuine Kingdom activities any of us do.

United Pursuit has a song with the words, “We’re not in a hurry, when it comes to Your Presence, when it comes to Your Spirit, when it comes to Your Presence ….” That’s where we’re at, and that, I believe, is why we experience the Lord’s Presence, week after week.

Next time, I’d like to provide some practical ideas for worship leaders for how to bring the Presence of God into the gatherings they lead.


Previous — Part 3
Next — Part 5

Making a Place for God’s Presence (Part 3)

Modified Hubble Image, by Lee Ann Rubsam

In the last two posts, I explained what is meant by the tangible Presence of God, why we need to experience Him in this way, and what that may look like. Today and in the next post, we’ll talk about simple ways we can invite the Lord to manifest His Presence in our Christian gatherings — prayer meetings, home fellowships, or church services, for instance. I particularly hope that pastors and other group leaders will find this post helpful.

The Lord truly desires to show up among His people. Has He not already said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20)? Why is it, then, that so many of our congregational gatherings are so dry? Why are people having difficulty connecting with God in the corporate setting?

It’s about attitudes and priorities. And, as with anything that goes on in the corporate gathering, the leaders — the ones who carry and implement the vision — are the place where change must start. If leaders don’t make God’s Presence top priority, it is unlikely to happen — at least on a consistent basis. I’m going to be speaking mainly to pastors for the rest of this post, but the following points can be applied by prayer and home fellowship leaders too:

If you want God to visit your service or gathering big-time, you will have to start with a major shift in what you value. Pastors face a tremendous amount of pressure to please people so that they keep coming. This is very real on a practical level, because if the people don’t come, the bills don’t get paid. It’s also real because in America, we’ve bought into the mentality that church numbers growth means we’re doing things right; we’re successful. It is definitely possible to grow a large church without the Presence of God. The people attending probably will be about as shallow spiritually as a layer of oil on water, but you can do it.

So, there’s a risk of losing people if you move toward a Presence-oriented church. You will have to decide, if push comes to shove, whether it is more important to make a place for natural-minded people to enjoy being entertained, or a place where God feels welcomed and honored. The two often don’t mix very well, so the Presence of God in your worship might mean taking heat from those who don’t want to grow deeper in the things of the Spirit. If you are willing to say, “God, I will do whatever it takes to make a place for Your Presence,” we can move on to the next point.

God’s agenda for any meeting must trump your plans. Going into any service or gathering with a plan is wisdom, but you must be willing to let God change the plan. That means, if your normal allotted time for praise and worship singing is twenty minutes, and you can see that the Holy Spirit is moving on people’s hearts, you won’t just shift into the next regularly scheduled segment of the service at the twenty-minute mark. If you do, you will grieve the Spirit. And, you will grieve the hearts of people who were beginning to be touched by Him.

Quite a few churches have adopted a separate service plan — one with a general social appeal and one for those who want to go deeper in the things of God. For instance, the Sunday morning service might feature lively praise music and a basic sermon, perhaps with an altar call. In most cases, the gifts of the Spirit won’t happen at this service, because it is thought they might scare away visitors and new or non-believers.

A service on another night of the week, once a month or more, is then provided. At these “encounter” services, more intimate worship is allowed, and at greater length. In a charismatic church, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are welcomed at this second service. Deeper preaching and teaching are presented, and prayer for healings and miracles is offered. The hope is that the Sunday morning crowd will eventually develop a deeper hunger for the Lord and begin adding the more Presence-oriented service into their church experience.

If the reasoning behind the two-service approach is to give the congregation a short period of time to adjust to more Presence-oriented services, this could help transition flow smoothly. But if the purpose is to appease both the spiritually hungry and the not-so-hungry, it is not going to work long-term. Why? Because we can’t push God from box to box, telling Him when to show up, and what He can and cannot do in a given service. It is an affront to Him. There may be exceptions, because God knows the heart behind why things are done the way they are, but eventually He will bring church leadership to the decision of who is Lord. If it is not THE Lord, the fire will die out.

I’ve probably lost some readers by now. But for those of you who want to go on, next time we will talk about practical ways we can invite God to pour out His Presence among us.

Previous: Part 2
Next: Part 4