I have tones of notes from my time at a recent healing conference with the guys from Bill Johnson’s church but at this point I am just blogging the main things that have stuck in my heart.
The first was that I caught a desire for more of the presence of God as an experiential reality and have been enjoy it ever since. The second was grace. Not salvation grace as such (I have been blessed to be in a church for over 10 years that emphasizes grace in such a great way) but power grace. They didn’t use that term but I don’t know what else to call it (gifts of the Spirit is a good biblical term for it!). Interestingly, before I went, a few quotes from Reinhard Bonnke had stuck in my head. This man, who is seeing amazing miracles, says this:
Power! That is the essence of the gospel. A powerless gospel preacher is like an unwashed soap salesman. Singing ‘There is power, power, wonder-working power in the precious blood of the Lamb,’ and then having to fast and pray for a month to get power does not add up. Appropriate the power of the Gospel by faith. It works. REINHARD BONNKE
There is a temptation to think we need to pray for hours, fast for days and speak in tongues continually in order to see the sick healed. That, says Bonnke, is not true and can even be undermining to the glory of the gospel. By faith we apply God’s power to situations. It’s so easy for a zealousness for God’s kingdom to stall if we rely on our own works to provide the power.
The two main speakers at the conference were Joaquin Evans and Josh Stevens and both seemed to effortlessly heal and get words of knowledge. They emphasized that it was God’s presence that brought healing, not their own efforts or merit. Time and time again they would say “God’s healing such and such a thing” and sure enough he was. If anyone prayed it was only for a few seconds and in a very relaxed way, and then many people discovered that they were healed. Simple as that. When they testified to being healed more people got healed simply by hearing the testimony.
Jesus does say “this type only comes out by prayer” but that seemed to be the exception rather than the rule, and in any case, he didn’t say “by hours of prayer“. If we pray for ages thinking God will be impressed, or motivated by our dedication we have moved into works based ministry.
Matt 6:7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. (ESV)
This passage points away from ritual to relationship. Both Joaquin and Josh (just found Josh’s blog http://kingdomrevival.wordpress.com/ and another one but not sure whos http://everydayrevival.org/) said that their passion was for the presence of God and that by perusing it they had stumbled into miracles and healing and words of knowledge. They emphasized that prayer and time with God was not a duty but a delight for them. Obviously there is a place for discipline, but if you are asking “how long should I pray for?” you have missed the point of it by a mile. It’s like asking how much time do I have to spend with my children for them to grow up psychologically healthy. Their psychology is not the main issue, love and relationship is. I spend time with them because I love them and want to be with them for their own sake not primarily for some goal I want to achieve, all be it a good one. In any case the goal of producing healthy secure children is best fulfilled by loving them as an end in itself. Someone once said ‘putting first things first makes second things best’. If I love them just for some end goal it will probably backfire anyway. In the same way I want to love God for the sake of it. I want to delight in him and his love for me for the pure joy of it. I want to know and dwell in his presences because it’s the best place to be right now even if it never achieved anything in the future. Power is the overflow of prioritizing his presence.
One final thing before I re-read and type up my notes is that we went out on the streets to share God’s love with people. I plucked up courage to speak to a few people and learnt a lot in the process. I trust God will use what I did although it’s hard for me to see right now how! It was scary but as Josh kept saying “on the other side of your biggest fear is your greatest breakthrough”. That was all the encouragement I needed.