A sinner can no more repent and believe without the Holy Spirit's aid than he can create a world. ~ Charles Spurgeon
I owe a debt of gratitude to the Society of Friends [Quakers] though we part ways theologically on a number of issues because they taught me how to listen for God. I had become caught, as I suspect far too many Christians are, on the thorny dilemma of prayer ~ for why pray at all when all is foreordained & God knows everything? Perchance I could move past that a second dilemma was wont to shipwreck my efforts because the need is so great that prayer became overwhelming. Sadly one cannot pray for everything & everyone. We are finite, limited human beings ~ & so I was wont not to pray at all. I came from a church background that talked at God. I had never learned the gentle art of listening to God ~ let alone having an actual conversation!
Quakerism opened me to other possibilities. I flirted with silence for years, too immature spiritually to understand this too is a discipline & requires practise & some degree of maturity to be succesful. However it was so attractive to my mind I persisted & eventually grew up enough to make some inroads in my understanding of prayer. Enough at any rate to begin to understand what people saw in it, why they loved it better than anything else & to seek to go deeper in my own prayer life.
I learned to love silence. I learned how to be quiet before the Lord. I learned to hear from Him. And then He sent me to Rhema. To say I was not impressed would be a massive understatement. I make no bones about how difficult I have found the charismatic style of praise & worship. It is just not *me*. That it is biblical was no consolation.
Dearest, who was tired to death of hearing me sing the praises of silent worship, entered into the joyful singing with enthusiasim while I was still plugging my fingers into my ears in order to cope. However much I didn't want to I had to admit the Holy Spirit was in this style of worship too. I could sense when the anointing arrived & the Holy Spirit began to minister but I was being dragged kicking & screaming ~ metamorphically. I was the proverbial toddler having a massive tantrum. Of all the places to land me this would never have been my first choice.
As others have found before me, once you've encountered God up close & personal other considerations fade into insignificiance. What matters is getting it together with God not the method by which that takes place so if God wanted me to worship like this ~ then so be it!
Now charismatic churches are like chalk & cheese. Some are waaaay over the top & out of order. Some are anal retentive. One of the pluses at Rhema is that they make room for moves of the Spirit while keeping order. As part of the praise & worship they make space for individual prayer. Yes, some people pray in tongues, & some sing in tongues but plenty don't. They just pray in their ordinary every day way but there is strength in corporeate worship & so they do pray out loud. Perhaps surprisingly this has never disturbed me as much as the music.
We attend church on Friday nights, partly because it saves us having to travel on yet another day with all the attendant costs, partly because I'm working in the office until the service starts but mostly because Friday nights are what they call a * Believer's Service*. It sounds impressive. What it actually means is this is the service they dish up meat & strong wine so come prepared to be stretched, to be challenged, to participate! I have no problem with any of that & as I said, what drew us, what kept us coming back, was the teaching.
Over time I've sort of got used to the amps being turned up louder than I find comfortable, the hand waving & the people dancing in the aisles. I've got to know some of the songs so I shut my eyes & shut out the church & enter into prayer. Silence has taught me something. I turn unerringingly towards the Spirit like a compass needle heading straight for magnetic North!
On Friday God had a surprise for me. As the praise & worship ended & the church entered into prayer I sense the anointing poured out over the church so strongly I couldn't believe we were still all standing upright! Wow, I thought. That's pretty cool. Patsy got up to lead the church out of prayer & begin to preach but she'd barely begun when the most amazing thing happened. Spontaneously the entire church lapsed into silence & flowed deep into prayer. I know plenty of preachers who would have got up & preached anyway. Patsy did not. She followed the Holy Spirit's prompting & let Him minister to His church. For an hour & a half the church worshipped in the sort of amazing silence I have only ever before experienced in a Quaker Meeting. And no~one wanted it to end. People were reluctant to walk out & go home. Messages began popping up letting people know Children's Church was over & people really needed to come collect their kids. Dearest was blown away.
God is God. How He moves, when He moves ~ that's His choice. The thing is none of us get to stay on the mountain top. I mean I get Peter. He was all for staying in the glory & letting the world go to pot. Meanwhile there was a child in need whom the other disciples were unable to minister to & work to be done. I get it but I do like the mountain tops. The view is something else!