We twirled. We dipped. We leapt. We spun. We danced. In early May about 35 people from both US coasts and numerous points in between converged on the Community of the Cross in Black Mountain, North Carolina to learn how to dance in cooperation with the Holy Spirit.
This year’s Growing the Church in the Power of the Holy Spirit conference was exhilarating. We not only learned about that dance but actually experienced it in so many ways. The Spirit led, we followed.
A Wealth of Experiences
There’s a rich repertoire of examples I could share, from the penetrating morning devotionals led by Keith Hill of Richmond VA to the worship–inducing music led by Josh Modrzynski of Riceville, NC–to the insightful teaching by Susan Finck of Waco, TX, and Gina Dick and Dave Westra of Grand Rapids, MI.
God swept us along as He led us in worship, study, small groups, fellowship and more. But maybe I can choose one from the many vignettes that show how we got to dance with the Spirit of God. It has to do with intercessory prayer.
Choreography and Improvisation
While the daytime agenda of a GTC conference is loosely choreographed, subject of course to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the evenings are more free-style and flexible. When the week begins we know we probably want to present the ministry of PRMI to participants in the conference. We expect that there will be a time set aside when we lay hands on people and pray that the Holy Spirit will empower them for ministry, but there really is no set schedule or plan as to when these things will happen.
The leadership team talks about options and opportunities in afternoon meetings, but we listen to the Holy Spirit, trying to discern and understand the next steps He wants us to follow. (We did schedule two break-out sessions on Tuesday night. In one of them Mary Ellen Conners of Black Mountain, NC taught on the ministry of intercession and in the other I led a conversation on preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit, but even that was subject to change.)
An Intercessor’s Heart
One afternoon Gina got a nudge from the Lord that we were supposed to spend some time as a group in serious intercession, praying for the needs of the world. In fact, she received a word from the Lord that she wondered if she was supposed to share with the whole group.
We thought perhaps that was to be the core of that evening’s activities. However, as the night progressed, it became clear that the Spirit was going in a different direction. So, maybe we got it wrong during the leadership team meeting. It happens. We just try to keep in step.
The next evening the Lord led us to focus on prayers for empowerment. That was a beautiful evening as the Lord imbued people with His gifts and strength for service. But we didn’t spend time in intercession, praying for the needs of the world. I guessed it wasn’t going to happen.
Finally Saturday came, the last day of the conference. It was time for closing worship. We congregated on the prayer porch. After Susan brought an inspiring sermon and before we shared Holy Communion, I invited the group to offer their own prayers, silently or out loud.
When a few minutes of silence had passed, people started pouring out their hearts. One person prayed for the presidential election. Another literally cried to God about the growing apostasy at her seminary. (My classmate Keith and I silently added our prayers for our own alma mater.) Others prayed about things like poverty, racism, the Church, particular countries and so on. Suddenly, unexpectedly, there it was. With a gentle, intimate touch, the Lord nudged us into perhaps the most powerful expression of corporate intercession I’ve ever experienced. I whispered to Gina that this might be the time for her to share what the Lord had told her a few days ago. She did.
Moments later, when Ruby Prasad of Orlando, FL began to lead us in a prayer of thanksgiving before the Supper, the presence of the Spirit was so palpable it took our breath away. I literally heard people gasp with awe and reverence.
Continuing the Dance
What God will do with those passion-infused prayers remains to be seen. I have no doubt that things were changed in the spiritual realm and that transformations will take place on earth. One of those transformations is simply that a few dozen of His beloved servants discovered a bit more about the joy and power of following the Lord in the dance.