So many of us who fall into the "charismatic" spectrum actually go to fairly mellow churches. My church is no exception, there. Do believers in our church often practice in the gift of tongues? Certainly. Will you here people babbling in tongues incessantly and loudly on Sunday mornings? No. Do we believe in healing? Certainly. Have people been healed there? Absolutely. Will you find the preacher looking for unsuspecting persons in wheel chairs to drag out in front of everyone? Definitely not.
In churches where the gifts are used visibly, audibly, and all the time, there is of course the danger of "inoculating yourself" against the Holy Spirit. "You want me to do what, God? That is so yesterday!" And of course the danger of getting into a habit of "drumming up" the same old same old instead of waiting on God for fresh fire. But before us "normal" Pentecostals get too proud, there is a great danger lurking in our churches, too!
Just as you can get used to a lot of "action," you can get used to a lot of "normalcy." And, any way you slice it, complacence is sinful. We have a Sunday or two where there are Words of Wisdom given, and Sundays where nothing happens. A Sunday where someone is healed of something, and then Sundays where nothing happens. Eventually, those times where a clear move of God punctuates the litany of Sundays where nothing happens are fewer and farther between.
What has gone wrong? Is God any less real today than He was yesterday? Are people any less broken than they were yesterday? Do people need the Lord less today than they did yesterday? No, no, and no. Absolutely not. But if the power of the Holy Spirit has not decreased, and the desperation has not decreased, what has? Our hunger. Our expectancy. We get so used to "something could happen, but it might not" day in and day out that we forget to expect great things of our Great God. We get so caught up in the drama of a close-knit community that we take our eyes off of Christ and focus instead on what people think of when we said/did this, and if Sister Soandso really liked my sweater, or was just trying to make me feel good. We stop seeing the Spirit move, and we stop expecting to.
Friday night the ladies from my home group met for a girls night. There was, as always, fun and silly girl talk and catching up on our lives. But then, the talk turned to more serious things. Significant spiritual moments in our lives, what we felt like God was saying to us in the New Year. Sharing with these ladies began to get me hungry. As my previous post indicates, there already were things God was laying on my heart in the new year. And to have other people willing to invest prayer into that on my behalf is a wonderful thing. To be able to invest prayer into the work God is doing in these other ladies' lives is also amazing! More than that, though, it got us ravenously hungry to see what God would do on Sunday morning.
This last week my church participated in something called the Global Bridegroom Fast. Basically the first Sunday-Wed of every month is a fast to focus our hearts on the Lord's return, on intercession for our communities, on a spirit of revival and of repentance; but primarily cultivating a longing for the Lord's presence in our daily lives, and a longing for His return. The name of the fast is taken from Matthew 9:15. What Bridegroom time means is that more people in the church will be visiting the prayer room than usual. More time in the prayer room + not eating = a real physical hunger + a greater spiritual hunger.
The combination of these two factors (ladies' night at home group generating so much hunger and the timing of Bridegroom fast) plus other possible factors (maybe other people gathered to pray to that same end as our ladies' night, maybe more people are reading their Bibles than usual because they have begun anew their New Year's Resolution to stick with their quiet times), is a recipe for an amazing Sunday morning service. And we had an amazing service! God showed up in a very real and tangible way, people committed to allowing God to use them more wholly, dreams were shared along with Words of Wisdom; the body was edified, and Christ was glorified. Every Sunday should be like this.
No, really. Every Sunday should be like this. When we cultivate that expectant heart, that hunger, that desperation to see God move; He meets us in the middle of our desperation and does incredible things. I am not saying every Sunday should look the same, sound the same, or even feel the same. I do not want to ever get into a pattern that could become a spiritual rut. I do not want to ever lose my sense of awe and wonder at the things God does. But we should be inviting Him at every second. We should be welcoming Him into our worship with our desperate hearts. If God inabits the praise of His people, why do we not notice Him more? I can only say it must be because we are not expecting Him to show up. We are not expecting to see Him heal the sick, deliver the oppressed, or embrace the lonely.
I am not a formula person. I think that when people try to put spiritual things into technical formulas few good things can happen. But I think that one formula is the exception. There is a formula for a consistent and satisfying church "experience."
Come hungry. Leave Happy.
Even if the amazing that happens in church this time does not instantly repair your problems, it will still ease your burden. You have an opportunity, when you come to church expecting to meet with God, to surrender those issues to Him, gain His perspective on your situation, and cry out to the Lord for deliverance. You have the opportunity to walk back out of the church when it is over knowing that the Lord cares for You, and your times are in His hand. Come Hungry. Leave Happy.