About a month ago, I was watching a YouTube video of Michael Koulianos. About halfway through the video, he entered what I believe is commonly understood as a ‘ministry moment’. He invited the Holy Spirit to move through miracles, signs and wonders, as the worship team began to play. I was deeply moved to enter into the same state of worship. As I began to join in a melody with the song echoing from my speaker, the Holy Spirit quieted the words coming from my mouth. I felt Him say, “turn the music off and sing your own song.” I quickly got up and turned off the volume. Immediately, a song began to rise out of my spirit. My time with the Lord that night was precious. It was insightful. It was vulnerable. But most importantly, It was relinquished.
The next morning I woke up, ready to enjoy time God before heading to work. I opened Spotify and looked for a good song to start off with. Yet no song seemed appealing. I scrolled through my different playlists and struggled to find a melody that resonated with my spirit. I hit play on one song, but ten seconds into it, the song just wasn’t cutting it. I picked up my phone to hit skip and again I felt the Holy Spirit say, “sing your own song.” I quickly found instrumental music and just like the night before entered into a place of worship, lead by the song God sang into my spirit; and even to this day, about a month later, I’ve yet to be released to sing a song other than my own.
I tell this story, because I’ve always had an affection for the Holy Spirit; and I’ve always struggled with the systematic idea of one’s “quiet time”. There’s nothing I delight in more than time with the Lord, but I’ve always struggled with making my time with the Lord a “routine”. I understand the importance of taking intentional time to separate ourselves from our world in order to spend time with the Father, worship and pray. We see Jesus do it time and time again, so how much more must we embrace solitary time with the Father? Yet I’ve always struggled with limiting my time with the Lord to an hour in the morning, equally distributed between praise and worship, prayer and time in the Bible.
I often think back to when I met the Lord, roughly four years ago. I woke up, went to work, and then devoted all of my heart and time to God. I didn’t have a “quiet time”. I just spent time with Him. Six months later, I started the journey of developing a deep, intimate relationship with the Spirit of God. My ’time with the Lord’ turned into something I believe is too often muted by the church. Unknowingly, I began a lifestyle of walking in the Spirit.
So, my reason for explaining my current state of worship comes from the gratefulness in my heart of being wooed deeper into a lifestyle fully dependent upon the Holy Spirit. It comes with the longing for everyone to embrace a lifestyle fully abandoned to the Holy Spirit - a lifestyle of walking in the Spirit. Over the years, I’ve come to understand it’s in the moments I’m fully abandoned to the Holy Spirit that I witness Heaven invade earth with a violence, weight and majesty unlike any other. God’s unimaginable plans are revealed when I allow Him to speak. I receive His promises when I simply listen and follow. And I experience a greater understanding of how big He truly is when I stop trying to figure things out and let God reveal His glory to me in the midst of every moment. These same plans, promises and understanding are things God wants to deliver to everyone. Yet I believe we often limit ourselves from a lifestyle of greater blessings, peace, understanding and breakthrough because we diminish the call to walk in the Spirit.
When we walk in the Spirit we find ourselves free to not only leave our baggage aside, but walk in the glory of God, as it prevents us from fulfilling the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). Abandoning ourselves and embracing a lifestyle lead by the here and now of God’s heart prepares us to experience the fullness of His glory, wisdom and guidance. It’s a lifestyle which fills us with His love and empowers us to pursue greater things, as we find assurance in His presence. It’s a lifestyle which establishes peace in our hearts, as we experience God’s leading and guiding along the still rivers of our lives (Psalm 23:2). It’s a lifestyle which embraces all that God is in each moment of our life. It’s a lifestyle God yearns for us to live. And as I’ve been drawn deeper into a reliance and abandonment with the Holy Spirit over this past month, I’ve come to see that operating in these three things empower us to live a lifestyle of walking in the Spirit - a lifestyle full of the glory of Heaven.
Understand What You’re Given
Luke 11 begins with the disciples witnessing the power and glory of Jesus’ prayer time with the Father, which rises their curiosity and interest for Jesus to teach them how to pray. Jesus’ responded with the Lord’s prayer. Yet in Luke’s gospel, Jesus continues with a few more famous verses:
So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how much to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? - Luke 11:9-13
The fascinating thing about Jesus’ response is it reveals our asking, knocking and seeking is not correlated to God giving us a higher paycheck, a more peaceful home or breaking our chains of bondage, as we most often perceive it to be. Rather, our asking, knocking and seeking is in direct relation to the revealing of His presence through the Holy Spirit. I believe our automatic response when reading Luke 11:9 is one which says, ‘All I have to do is ask God for what I want and it will show up beautifully wrapped in a red bow.” This response leaves us stagnantly awaiting many things God has not only promised us, but desires us to receive. Yet Jesus concludes this truth by revealing when we ask, seek and knock, God will always be faithful to give us the Holy Spirit - He’ll always give us our Comforter, Advocator, Teacher.
Jesus said as we ask for greater finances, freedom from our sin, peace within our homes and even our next steps regarding our purpose, the Father would give us the One who would help lead us to those very things. He promised to send us the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. He promised to send us the One who would be our peace in the midst of our anguish, peace greater than the world gives (John 14:27). He promised to give us the only One who knows the depth of God’s heart and thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:11). He promised to send His Spirit, so we would embrace a more intimate relationship with Him, opening the door for us to experience greater glory and wonder of who He is.
Living a life of walking in the Spirit begins when we stop looking for the answers and begin looking for the presence of the One God promised to send us.
Abandon Your Agenda
I believe there’s a misconception in the church that if we bring our ‘laundry list’ before God, we’re disrespecting Him because we’re not spending time in prayer and worship. There’s this stigma that by going to God and crying for this and that reflects a lack of trust in His faithfulness. And while, I do believe it is vital for us to spend intentional time worshipping God and there is room for a distrustful, complaining spirit to arise by bring our ‘laundry list’ to the Father, I also believe He calls us to bring our needs and desires before Him. He’s promised to give us the desires of our hearts. It’s something He longs to do. He wants us to know when the promise arrives, it was Him who delivered it. God wants us to ask Him for our needs and desires, but He wants us to hear how He intends to do it.
Heaven appears when we approach God with our needs, but lay aside our agenda. Every day is a new day, made up of different moments, interactions and direction. The things God needed to orchestrate for us to experience our breakthrough yesterday may be different than they needed to be today. What God needed us to do yesterday may be different than today. Who God wanted us to speak to yesterday may be different than today. Where He wanted us to go yesterday may be different than today. How He needed us to pray yesterday may be different than today. What God needed to work in us yesterday may be different than today. Walking in the Spirit lays aside what we believe must happen in order for our promise to manifest. It’s a lifestyle which approaches God with questions rather than requests, one which is not concerned with when the promise is going to show up, but rather how it will arrive. Abandoning our agenda in prayer and taking the time to ask the Holy Spirit what steps we must take, where we must go, what conversations we must have and how we should pray to align ourselves with His heart in that very moment carries us into the deeper presence and glory of God, as His answers will only draw us closer to Him. It paves the way for God’s faithfulness to flow into our lives.
Embrace the Friend
As friendships grow stronger, the time spent doing life together must remain as intentional as it did in the forming stating of the relationship. However, the structure of the conversation begins to fade away. The pressure of coming up with questions designed to lead each other into unchartered territories of each other’s lives disappears. As we come to find out our friends fears, dreams, strengths, weaknesses, passions, etc., our conversations become organically focused on the depths of who we are, what we’re hoping for and what we’re experiencing. Over time, our conversations begin to simply be. Never forced, conversations between friends come and go. Where there was silence in one moment, there is chatter in the next. Where there was heartfelt transparency in one moment, there is laughter in the next. This very essence of friendship exists between us and God as we walk in the Spirit.
I’ve come to understand this idea on a greater level because of my current state of worship. My conversation with God isn’t formed around any specific idea, need or desire. As I spend time worshipping Him, the conversation between God and myself simply begins. God will speak and I’ll respond. I’ll speak and He’ll respond. Silence will fill the air and then He’ll bring a something to my attention I never would have thought to focus on. It’s in these types of conversations where God establishes His will for His Kingdom. It’s in these moments He’ll uncover a hidden truth, reveal a need of intercession and simply make me smile. It’s in these types of conversations our friendship grows and trust is established. It’s in theses types of conversations He shows me things that grow my faith, giving me the strength and encouragement to pursue His Kingdom here on earth.
Our conversation with God is meant to be organic. It was never designed to be forced. It is one meant to be both heavy and joyful, transparent and deep, silent and loud. When we take hold of the truth that the Holy Spirit is alive on the inside of us and is constantly speaking to our spirit man, we have the opportunity to access all heaven contains through our conversations with the Father. The need to force a perfect prayer, scramble through a list of bullet points and even seclude ourselves to reestablish our focus at work disappears. Embracing God as our Friend in conversation opens our lives to the glory of heaven in every moment, knowing that while we may have been silent for a few hours, our conversation will continue. And even if it begins when we least expect it, we know our conversation with God will always be fruitful, full of His love and focused on His Kingdom invading our earth, even if it’s by a simple smile.