a deeper awareness and experience of God’s love
infusing the heart with joy, wonder, love and praise,
and a greater desire to witness
A group of five members of our church, St Luke’s Sydenham, attended the Catch the Fire Down Under Conference in Sydney in June 1995. John Arnott from Toronto, Canada, led it.
For me it all started on the first night. We were in an overflow hall watching by video when the Holy Spirit fell on me as John preached on Divine Love. I wept in wonder and joy for the rest of his teaching. Afterwards we moved into a time of ‘soaking prayer’ when we were encouraged to focus on Jesus and worship him as people prayed for us. Some two hours later I was experiencing enormous waves of power coursing through my body, like bolts of electricity. Accompanied by tears and joyful laughter as I soaked in what seemed like a bath of God’s love.
Afterwards I was carried out of the meeting overwhelmed by God’s love, still trembling with his power on me that lasted most of the night.
John Arnott’s theme was that he wanted us to be marinated in the Holy Spirit over the seven meetings. There was opportunity to soak in the Spirit for two to three hours each time. I took every opportunity including another time when John prayed for me after I had attempted to give testimony when experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit. That was a very funny experience.
You might ask ‘What was the fruit of all this?’
Firstly, all of us experienced a new and deeper relationship with God which has changed the way we worship, the way we live and the way we minister.
When we shared our testimonies with the congregation on our return, people were touched by God even as they listened, and many more were blessed through prayer ministry. In our evening service the preacher was prayed for before preaching and ended up on the floor for the next two hours, while we moved to plan B – witnessing and praying.
The manifestations vary: shaking, falling, laughing, crying, or just quietly resting in the Spirit. But the inner experience is a deeper awareness and experience of God’s love infusing the heart with joy, wonder, love and praise, and a greater desire to witness.
As people focus on seeking more of God they later find they have received inner healing of life’s hurts, physical healings (from sciatica, back pain, intestinal problems), deliverance from demonic bondages, and freedom from depression.
Some people who have been ministered to for years are now quite changed with healing, new life, and joy.
A new boldness to witness has entered some and we are seeing adults experience the process of becoming disciples of Christ as they turn to him. Two people who were unbelievers were dramatically touched by the power of the Spirit in our services. Two children also asked how they could invite Jesus into their lives. Many children have received ministry and have rested in the Spirit with the same blessing, and in some cases have had changed attitudes.
A steady stream of visitors from other churches are coming. Many arrive feeling very dry and are going home with a new and deeper experience of God’s love, often returning next week with their friends. It certainly is a wonderful time of refreshing by God.
Where do we go from here?
Throughout the world thousands of people have made new commitments or re-commitments to Christ when churches experience the ‘Father’s Blessing’ as John Arnott calls it. I believe we are in a time when God is refreshing his church, recharging our spiritual batteries, and renewing our first love (Revelation 2:4). His love in us will spill over and we will see the prodigals returning in large numbers.
For now, what we need to do is to drink of the Spirit often and deeply, more and more, until we fall passionately in love with Jesus and love those that he loves. Then the world will see and know that Jesus is alive and the harvest will follow.
Reproduced from the August 1995 issue of ‘Spirit Life’, the bi-monthly newsletter of Anglican Renewal Ministries Australia in Victoria and Tasmania, PO Box 1134, Glen Waverley, Victoria 3150.
© Renewal Journal 7: Blessing, 1996, 2nd edition 2011
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