Is Our Worship In The Spirit Or In The Flesh

Over the years I’ve attended many prayer meetings that were focused on revival. These were times spent crying out to God and pleading with Him to pour out His Spirit. It never seemed like our prayers were answered but we continued to pray and cry out.

The course of my prayer life changed during one of these prayer meetings. We were crying and pleading with God and the Holy Spirit stopped me. He spoke to me in that still small voice as He will speak to any Christian who will listen.

“Son, I am not holding back revival. I’m waiting on you to walk in the power I’ve already placed in your spirit.”

This experience was not a moment where I was overcome by the presence of God. Lightning did not strike and the Spirit did not descend with tongues of fire like He did in Acts 2.

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Romans 8:6

The word carnal is a reference to the physical realm. Too often Christians judge a move of God by their experience. If people are dancing, shouting, and falling to the ground we feel like revival has come. These can be legitimate experiences but they also can be manifestations of people’s carnal need for a physical experience.

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
John 4:24

Jesus told His disciples that true worshipers worship in “spirit and in truth”. Worshipping in the spirit is totally different from worshiping in the flesh. I enjoy the worship team as much as the next person but we do not need them to worship.

Paul told us that to be “carnally minded is death”. If we can worship in spirit then I believe we can also worship in flesh which is to worship carnally.

So what is “carnal worship”? It is worship that is based on a fleshly experience.

“The Spirit really moved tonight. I could feel Him all over me and my body even shook with His power.”

There are legitimate experiences but we do not feel the presence of God. The Spirit resides in our spirit and He deals with us through our spirits. His presence can manifest in a service to the point it is almost like we “feel” Him but it is not possible to “feel” the Holy Spirit because He does not have a physical body.

God is not holding back revival. I actually believe that it is our carnality that is holding back revival. The Holy Spirit desires to move among us much more than any of us desire for Him to move.

The way most Christians pray for revival seems to be sourced in a belief that God is sitting on the throne with His arms folded stubbornly holding back revival. There are even some ministers who will tell us that revival has not come because we have not gotten enough people to join in united prayer for revival.

I was a second year student at RHEMA Bible Training Center in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma when the Holy Spirit spoke to me. We saw Him move during school chapels and special meetings. My problem was that I was serving as a youth pastor in Pryor, Oklahoma and could not get the young people interested in the things of God. For some funny reason I actually had developed a picture of revival as the Holy Spirit showing up to knock the kids into shape!

I was hungry for more but the youth group and the church was not. The youth group had been built on social events prior to my arrival and so the youth expected to have dinner, play volleyball, and catch up with friends when they showed up on Wednesdays. They “put up” with a little spiritual activity but only if it was short and did not interfere with their activities.

The Holy Spirit spoke to me during a prayer meeting held on a Sunday night. I sat contemplating what He had said and an elderly lady approached me. We had not met previously but she handed me a book and told me that it would help me understand what the Spirit had said.This got my attention because I had not told anyone about my experience so the only was she could have known was if He had told her.

The book she handed me was an autobiography of Charles Finney. I devoured that book over the next few days and even missed school on Wednesday to reread it! Reverend Finney held revival meetings that resulted in whole towns being turned to Christ. As I read account after account of the revivals he led I began to see a pattern of expectancy that this great man of God seemed to carry.

The Holy Spirit used what I was reading to begin teaching me about expectancy. He stirred my heart. Charles Finney spoke of experiences in prayer that would frighten him because he found himself challenging God to try and hold back revival!

As I sat reading the accounts of revival it became clear that expectancy was a major key. The Holy Spirit descended on the day of Pentecost and has not left. He is here and He dwells in the heart of every believer. We have the same power that raised Jesus from the dead dwelling in our spirit and do not need God to pour out His Spirit because His Spirit is already dwelling in our hearts.

So I skipped school on Wednesday and spent more than eight hours reading and waiting on God in prayer. I’ll never forget what happened just before it was time to get ready for the Wednesday social event. I had been meditating on expectancy and suddenly a surge of faith rose up from my spirit. The gift of faith manifested and I heard myself shout, “If you don’t show up tonight I am quitting!” It was an experience that frightened me. It was at that moment I finally understood what Charles Finney meant by experiences that frightened him.

I got ready for service and drove to the church. The drive was no different from my previous trips to the church. There was no tangible experience and I actually felt dry as a bone with no sense of the anointing whatsoever!

The young people were waiting in the youth room when I arrived. They looked the same as they had in previous weeks and pretty much ignored me just as they had in every previous service. For this reason I was totally unprepared for what was about to happen

The kids ignored me when I walked in the room. I had experienced such a strong presence of God just before heading to church but now it seemed like He had stayed home. There was no “tangible” presence and things “seemed” as dead as always.

Each week I would play one song from a tape, pray over the food, and then we would go play. That was the extent of this groups spiritual experience – both before I arrived and after up to this point. I walked over to the corner where our tape player was, put in Hosanna Music’s Take The City CD, and started to play the song “I Believe in Jesus”.

My back was to the teenagers when the first line began, “I believe in Jesus…” That is all I remember about the song that night. When the song reached “Jesus” I heard chairs banging behind me. I was almost afraid to turn around and see what the group was up to. I was expecting that it was not going to be good.

The song was playing so I did not notice how quiet everything else was. I turned and was shocked to see the whole group laying silently under the power of God. Chairs were overturned and scattered everywhere! I did not know what to do but there was a holiness about that moment which has remained with me to this day. Slowly I sank to the floor with tears streaming down my face. My efforts to reach the kids had failed for months. The Holy Spirit needed only the first words of a song to change their lives!

I was lost in the moment and had no sense of time. The pastors wife came to check in after an hour because we had not come out for snacks or volleyball. She entered the room, got wide eyed, and collapsed under the power of God!

One hour turned into five. The kids just laid on the floor overcome by the power. They were totally still. The CD ended and a holy silence like nothing I had ever experienced filled the room. As I sat in the presence it struck me that there were no physical manifestations as one would expect. The kids lay silently in His presence. I was overcome and left the church overwhelmed by what had happened.

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