Friday, August 31, 2007

"Resting" in The Spirit

The term "resting in the spirit" or "slain in the spirit" has come up recently in conversation and one person in particular has expressed a desire to have this happen to him. What I'm talking about is the experience of dropping to the floor, unable to move or speak, as a result of the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit. As one who ministers healing prayer I've seen people overcome by the presence of the Holy Spirit such that they trembled beyond control. They've become radiant being in the presence of the flow of God's wonderful Holy Spirit. But, they didn't seek that experience when coming for healing; it just happened.

The person who spoke to me about wanting to be overcome by the Holy Spirit is a God-serving person; an associate pastor, worker in the mission fields, and a genuinely good soul. He has seen it happen to others and is now expressing a desire to have it happen to him. His expressed desire to be overcome by the Holy Spirit is why I'm writing (thinking) about it now. If it is his desire to simply experience it for the sake of thrill seeking, I tend to shun away from wanting to help him. If, however, he seeks a deep conviction for his sins and desires to know and serve God at a deeper level, then I should be eager to pray with him for God's presence to overwhelm him. I wrestle with discernment in this situation.

I don't ascribe to the overtly charismatic worship, preaching and prayer that fosters "experiential" thrills. I'm called to pray for healing. I preach about healing our relationships with God and each other. I pray that God mercifully restores health and wellness to those who seek His comfort. I believe that if it is within the context of wanting healing that this friend seeks to experience a resting in the spirit, God will lead me to pray with him. If led, I will follow.

As a footnote, some may say that there is no biblical support for being slain in the spirit. In John 18:6 when the Roman soldiers realized that they were in the very presence of God, they fell back. Today, after Christ's resurrection, the Holy Spirit's presence has that same effect.

10 comments:

Mark H said...

Hmm. I gave this some serious thought.

You see I am at the charismatic experience end of the spectrum. There have been times that I've appeared to be drunk and merry. There have been times that I've been unable to stand under the weight of His glory. I've seen things physically lift off people when they're set free. I've encountered all manner of things happen while people are healed and touched by the presence of God.

But I do totally agree with you.

As far as I can remember, I've never asked God for a manifestation, and I've never been asked by anybody to pray for a manifestation. It's a bizarre idea.

I simply want more of Jesus. I want to encounter Him in the pages of the Bible. I want to encounter Him when my heart is open and submitted during worship. I want to encounter Him when I pray. I want to encounter Him when there's a need to be met. I want others to encounter Him instead of merely encountering my words.

And on those occasions that I do sense His tangible presence I want to submit to whatever He's doing. I don't want to resist Him. And I don't want to create something that He isn't doing either.

I understand your friend's hunger. But there is a danger in charismatic circles that the absence of certain outward manifestations are associated with lesser blessing. That's just so NOT true whatsoever. It's a lie of the enemy. We must always receive from God by faith - not by what the eye sees.

My advice for your friend is the same as yours I think? Seek after all the God-head. The heart of the Father. The revelation of Jesus. The indwelling, clothing and equipping of the Holy Spirit. Kindle a renewed appreciation, thanks and joy for how He's already revealing Himself. Submit to His authority and go be who He wants us to be. Invite Him to reveal more, but don't go chasing after manifestations. Chase after Him and Him alone.

Just think. Jesus said to Thomas that those who didn't see any manifestation and still believed were even more blessed.

It's all about Jesus. Nothing more and nothing less.

Brother Marty said...

Mark,
Thank you so much for your perspective! I respect those in the charismatic movement, it simply isn't me...and my calling.
After thinking more and more about the content of my post, I'm moved to seek out a prayer session where the Holy Spirit will be invited to dwell in our presence.
It is awkward to make an appointment to meet with God via the Holy Spirit, but a time and place are necessary for the purposes of indulging schedules and the like. I've discerned that my friend is not a thrill seeker, rather, one wanting to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and turn his life over to the will of Our Lord. We plan a special prayer time next week.
Please pray for us, and ask for the very presence of the Holy Spirit to dwell in our midsts. I believe it will be so.
Thanks, Brother Mark, for your input.
Marty

Mark Winter said...

Technically, the Jewish priests were not slain in 2 Chronicles 5:14...but they could not stand in the shekinah presence.

Mark H said...

It's my pleasure to pray for your meeting with Holy Spirit :-)

Marty said...

Mark and Mark,
Thanks for the comments. And regarding the "shekinah" reference, I appreciate you lifting that scripture up. I've been enjoying finding other OT references as well as the Wikipedia article on it.
Thanks,
Marty

greg hazelrig said...

I was in a room where a small group of us came to worship after Annual Conference let out one night. It was not a healing time, but a time of worship. I experienced people I knew and loved speaking in tongues (people I never would have thought about because they never mention that kind of thing). I saw a person being prayed over and he limply fell while everyone prayed over him.

Yet I didn't feel any different. I may can relate to the person you are speaking of though. You see, I was led to pray in my normal way and then to pray for this same person (even though I knew not what was wrong). In the process, the leader (a friend of mine) took me and started praying for me (partially in clear language and partially in tongues). I was caught up in what was going on. I wanted to "be slain" or speak in tongues, not for the excitement, but because at that very moment I wanted to feel God's presence in a mighty way.

They all began praying over me. I let myself go so that I wound up laying on the floor. And nothing happened. I actually felt in some ways like I had failed that night. Everybody else was experiencing God in a way I couldn't. They kept telling me to allow my spirit to speak and not to try. I had know idea what that meant evidently.

I am back now to my belief before that night. I know some are slain in the Spirit and will speak in tongues. I have seen friends do that now. But God evidently doesn't have that in store for me. Am I saddened? Not really. I want to experience Him in any and all ways. But I guess some of those ways will just have to wait till I get to Heaven.

Brother Marty said...

Greg,
Last night we had our "appointment" with the Holy Spirit. While I felt the overwhelming presence, my friend and prayer partner failed to feel any presence. He expressed some disappointment but no regrets because the prayer time was so meaningful.
I'm grateful for your sharing your experience and know that the prayer time you shared was meaningful in spite of not being "slain". I don't know in my mind what triggers that overwhelming indwelling, but in my heart and spirit I believe there is a clue. At those times when it has happened to me or I've seen it in others there is a total submission to God. Total, as in, desperately seeking God's mercy and direction, whether for physical or spiritual health...complete submission.
I see this mostly in those who come for healing, rather than those who minister the healing. Some have said that the further from a true servant's walk one is, the more powerfully the spirit convicts and overwhelms them to put them on the right path. I think there is some wisdom to that perspective. Saul was so far off the right path that nothing less than his Damascus road experience would convert him to following the Way. If one is so far off the right path a dramatic experience is the only way to turn them around. Again, I think there is wisdom in that perspective.
Thanks again for sharing.
Marty

Sista Cala said...

Actually there are several instances in the Bible where people were "slain" or lost the ability to stand in the presence of God. John in the book of Revelation states that he fell as though he were dead while in His presence.

Church speak calls it "slain in the Spirit" or by the Spirit. "Slain" is another word for dead. So the word is right when you think about our flesh must die in the presence of a holy God.

What I found interesting in my study of the biblical occurences is the fact that when the person regained composure, i.e. got up, he or she was changed in character or purpose. All that is except Ananias and Saphira.... but they were completely physically dead after their encounter.

Anonymous said...

II Chronicles 7:1 . . .perhaps. Interesting that I found your blog today after having read this about Matt Redman, the composer of one of my favorite songs "Back to the Heart of Worship". In this article, the author refers to the scripture about this happening.

Anonymous said...

Uh, oh, forgot to post the link I referred to in my post above!

http://www.worshiptogether.com/features/article.aspx?iid=218105