Three Keys to Accessing More of God’s Power
I am going through a healing prayer course at my church and the last two weeks have been on the power of the Holy Spirit, so I thought I’d post some thoughts on the topic here.
Francis MacNutt, from Christian Healing Ministries, summarizes 2 Timothy 3, where Paul says,
“In the last days they will maintain the form of religion, but will have left out the real power of it.”
And in 1 Corinthians 4:20 Paul makes a similar point, saying:
“For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.”
What does it mean to live by God’s power?
The Holy Spirit is given to anoint us and give us the power needed to do the very things Jesus did – preach the gospel, heal the sick, set the captives free. It is to bring people out of the Kingdom of darkness and into the Kingdom of light. It is to expand the Kingdom of God!
Okay, yeah, we might think. I get that. But then why aren’t I seeing and experiencing more of God’s power being manifest in my daily life?
I think many of us have this question and this niggling feeling that ‘there’s gotta be more to the Christian life than this.’ I definitely have. Let’s explore this thought a little further.
We know the truth is that we receive the Holy Spirit when we become Christians. Scripture is very clear that our initial filling of the Holy Spirit comes by believing:
“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.” (John 7:38-39)
But I want to suggest that being initially filled with the Holy Spirit and being continually empowered by the Holy Spirit are different things.
Perhaps the analogy of gas in a tank may help our understanding: A car might be filled with fuel, but until the engine starts, the car doesn’t have the power to move right?
It is possible to have the Holy Spirit (gas), but know nothing of his active presence in our lives (ignition). I know because that was me for many years. I believe that I was given the Holy Spirit of God when I put my faith in Christ as a young child, but I knew nothing of God’s power working through me until I learned how to recognize and intentionally activate it.
This means we cannot just sit back and wait for his power to strike (unfortunately!). Rather, we are invited to participate in bringing about more of God’s power in our lives. That is, we have a part to play.
Let’s look at three things we can do to access more of God’s gift of power in our lives in greater measure:
- Power comes in our asking.
Jesus says as he is teaching his disciples on the subject of prayer:
“What father among you, if his son asks for fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then… know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:12-13)
Nuzzled within this passage of Luke 11, Jesus tells us to ask, which in some translations is the word “impudence.” Do you know what this word means? The word impudence is the kind of asking in prayer that is so persistent, so bold, so shameless that it’s almost rude!
So Jesus is saying when it comes to asking for more of his power in our lives – for more of his Spirit – he says that God will often answer because of our impudence.
But what are we really asking for? Take a look at all these Scriptures describing the Spirit’s activity in our lives:
- Helps us obey God – to know and carry out God’s will (Ez 36:26-27)
- Makes God’s presence evident in us (John 7:38-39, 14:23)
- Offers guidance into Truth (John 16:13) and tells us what is ahead (John 16:13)
- Reminds us of Jesus’ words (John 14:26)
- Gives us power beyond our own human strength (Luke 24:49, Romans 8:11)
- Enables us to be witnesses carrying out Jesus’ ministry of healing the sick and setting the captives free (Acts 1:8)
- Gives us special gifts to build up the church and to be the church to a lost and broken world (Acts 2:17-18, I Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-30, Romans 12:6-8, Ephesians 4:11, I Peter 4:11)
- Fills us with the life of Christ (Romans 8:11)
- Transforms our character into the image of Christ (Galatians 5:23-24, 2 Cor. 3:18)
- A Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby that will remain with us forever (John 14:16)
Wow! Who wouldn’t want more of this Spirit? The good news is that there is no such thing as too much asking when it comes to the Spirit. We are instructed to be like those who ask with that kind of persistence, consistency and shamelessness that won’t give up until it happens.
2. Power comes in our embracing weakness.
Often times we think of power in terms of how the world thinks of it. We think if we are capable, if we are qualified, if we are strong, God will work His power through us. I confess at times I fall into this kind of thinking.
But in regards to accessing God’s power in the Kingdom, things work in the exact opposite fashion. For example power comes not in our strength, but in our learning to depend on God in our weakness.
Paul explains this as he realizes that the mysterious “thorn in his side” isn’t a weakness that will set him back, but it turns out it is the key to God’s power working through him:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Paul goes onto say he will boast all the more gladly about his weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on him.
This truly is one of the greatest secrets of accessing God’s power is admitting our weakness and learning to depend absolutely on him. We see this formula exhibited all throughout the Scriptures. When God wants to complete a task, who does he typically choose? He often chooses the weak, the poor, the insignificant and the inadequate:
- Think of Moses, a man overwhelmed by his weaknesses and his lack of abilities.
- Then there is David, the greatest of the Old Testament Kings of Israel. David was the youngest of the brothers in his family, a mere shepherd. God appointed him to be King even though he appeared to be the least likely candidate.
- Consider Jesus himself. His birthplace was a dusty stable. As an adult Jesus became a carpenter, with no readily apparent qualities to pinpoint him as leader (see Isa 53:2-3).
- Then there is the ragtag bunch of men Jesus appointed to be his followers. One was a fisherman, another a hated tax collector and the list goes on of ordinary men. But God worked powerfully through these individuals and people were amazed because they were so ordinary and unimpressive by the world’s standards.
When we truly learn to depend on God out of our weakness instead of powering through on our own strength, we will begin to see an increased measure of the power of God working in our lives.
3. Power comes in our willingness to take risks.
Jesus tells his disciples:
“…do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” (Matthew 10:19)
Sometimes we need to be willing to step out in faith and trust that God’s power will anoint us along the way. Where is there a person we see who could use prayer, but we cower back in fear? Or a message of truth we feel compelled to speak to a friend but we hold back so as not to offend? I often fall prey to fears of all kinds that hold me back from stepping out in faith.
Sometimes we want to be assured of what God will do before we go. But he often asks us to go…in order to see what he will do.
What is holding you back from stepping out and taking a risk for God?
Learning to recognize and access God’s power is a journey. It is not ‘black and white’ and there is certainly some measure of ‘ebb and flow’ as we seek to faithfully walk out our relationship with God. But my prayer is that you would be blessed as you put these three things into practice–asking with impudence, depending on God in your human weakness and taking risks into the unknown–discovering greater access to the power of God in your life. It is a gift. And it is ours in Christ. So take hold of it, receive it, unwrap it and live into it!