Learning to Let the Holy Spirit Move
by John Edwards
The singing part of the church service was nearly over, so I knew the Pastor was soon going to introduce me as the guest speaker, then hand the rest of the meeting over to me.
But God hadn't given me a sermon yet!
So I prayed nervously: "God, you better hurry up! They're about to hand the service over to me!"
So I asked again: "God, you better give me a sermon! They're handing the service over to me!"
The moment came where the Pastor formally introduced me as the guest-speaker, then handed the service over to me. But God still hadn't told me what to preach on!
(My custom in those days was to look to the Lord for a sermon during the singing-part of a service, and always divine inspiration would be given to me about what to preach on - but this time it wasn't happening!!)
So my opening remark to the church that night was simply to ask the band and the congregation to repeat their last song - meanwhile giving me more time for one last desperate prayer to God for a sermon.
Whilst they were singing, the thought occurred to me that as a solution perhaps I could just preach an old sermon from memory.
But then I thought: "Hang on - if it was really the Holy Spirit who gave me sermons like this in the past, then it must really be the Holy Spirit who's not giving me one now."
So I had the sense to ask the Lord: "What do You want me to do?"
"Just hand the meeting over to me," came the Holy Spirit's reply.
So I said to the church: "I know we usually hear the Word at this point in the service, but instead tonight let’s just hand the meeting over to the Holy Spirit," and I added that perhaps we will have the Word afterwards.
I exhorted everyone to allow the Holy Spirit time to move, and simply to respond to Him in any way they feel He is dealing with them.
We waited for a short time. I had a sense of anticipation and a feeling of nervousness at the same time, because I didn't really know what to expect.
"I hope something happens - otherwise this could be embarrassing!" I thought, as I remained seated and prepared to receive from God myself.
And then suddenly some members of the congregation began to cry aloud.
Others fell off their seats to the floor, under the power of God.
Others began speaking with tongues without anyone having laid hands on them - and I learned later that this was the first time they had ever spoken with tongues.
A couple of them began to prophesy.
Then one or two were prompted by the Spirit to move around the group laying hands on everyone. As they did so, the fear of the Lord fell on the whole congregation.
We were all touched and undone by the Spirit of the Lord. Even the Pastor held his bowed head in his hands covering his face, groaning and crying out to the Lord, like the rest of us.
At one point some youths walked up to me and pleaded with me to pray for them. I felt that what had taken place in the meeting so far had nothing to do with me, nevertheless at their request I laid my hands on them, then to my surprise they fell to the floor, where the Holy Spirit proceeded to work in them.
The overflow of tears and emotions was sustained at such a long and high crescendo that I must confess I started wondering, "How much of this is really the Holy Spirit, and how much is just emotionalism?"
I thought, "If people cry when God's Spirit begins to touch them, that's fine - but by the time He's finished with them it should result in joy - for 'the fruit of the spirit is...joy' (Gal.5:22,23)".
So I asked the Lord, "If this is what you want me to do more often in future church services, then please show me a sign that this is really you and not just emotionalism: let me see some joy - for the fruit of the Spirit is joy." [Then I knew I'd never need to ask a sign again - I would be able to run with it].
And before I even finished speaking, almost the whole congregation instantly began laughing.
I thought, "I guess that's joy."
The laughter came in waves. One woman, who I was later told, was the quitest, most conservative member of the church, rose to her feet and danced for joy. Many others joined in, to the point where they became so filled with the Spirit that they couldn't stand on their feet anymore, then fell to the floor as if drunk.
This whole move of the Spirit of God lasted approximately two hours.
I'd never heard of laughter breaking-out in a whole congregation like this before. Being down in Mindanao Island, Philippines, I hadn't seen another Australian in six months - so I hadn't heard anything at all about what happened in Rodney Howard-Browne's meeting, nor had I heard anything at all about what had simultaneously broken-out in Toronto. This was all a bit new to me - which is why I was a bit nervous at first about the Holy Spirit's instruction to "hand the meeting over to me" that night - because I wasn't accustomed to any great manifestations of the Spirit like this occurring in my meetings. Prior to this, I was the sort of person who seldom fell under the power, even with the best of them laying hands on me. And I certainly hadn't seen much of it happen whenever I laid my hands on anyone either.
But God didn't let our faith down: He was true to His Word - and we were all so glad that night that we had allowed the Holy Spirit to have His way for the rest of that meeting.
It so happened that the Pastor of the church was to be away on ministry for the following three weeks. So, after witnessing the work of God that night, the Pastor placed the care of the church into my hands.
During those weeks the church met daily.
In each meeting, we came with no set agenda other than to look to the leading of the Holy Spirit to show us His will for each unique meeting. We determined to allow the Holy Spirit to do whatever He wanted, through whomever He wanted, as often as He wanted, and for as long as He wanted - with wonderful results.
The Holy Spirit used these meetings to teach us about His will and how He likes to move.
As we submitted to the Holy Spirit to direct whom He wanted to use in each meeting, and for what function, we were sometimes surprised by who He decided to use and by what He decided to do.
For example, in one service I sensed that the Holy Spirit wanted a particular elder of the church to preach instead of me - and that day God used him to minister the miraculous.
Another time, that particular elder and I both sensed that God wanted to use the Pastor's wife. God used her that afternoon to cause many in the congregation to confess their sins, resulting in deliverance from demons and then more laughter.
Often the Holy Spirit began to fall on the congregation sitting in their seats, without any laying-on of hands.
Other times the Lord wanted to demonstrate how He can move, through the laying-on of my hands.
And then sometimes He would have me demonstrate how He can move through me speaking the word only.
Sometimes it happend that after I preached, not much would happen when I laid hands on people afterwards. Instead, God would use the elder to do the laying-on of hands, then God moved.
Other times when the elder preached, it sometimes happened that not much would happen when he afterwards laid hands on people. On those occassions, God would use me to do the laying-on of hands, then God would move.
Another time when we were guest-speakers in a different church, not much seemed to happen despite both the elder and I doing the laying on of hands. On this occassion God revealed that this time He wanted to use that particular church's Pastor to do the laying-on of hands.
At first the Pastor felt reluctant. "I'm not anointed," she said.
But when she started obediently laying-hands on her congregation, to her delight the Spirit of the Lord began to come upon them.
She and her congregation alike saw that God was using her.
The Lord did all this to teach us His ways.
One meeting lasted eleven hours, and still nobody wanted to go home.
A stroke-victim who was paralyzed down one side was healed and danced on the stage.
There was repentance.
Gifts such as prophecy and the interpretation of tongues flowed.
Backsliders were restored to fellowship.
Lots of people saw visions.
We noticed in later meetings that, after everyone else got up off the floor and returned to their seats, often two people would remain. If we didn't dismiss the meeting but waited long enough in the presence of God, these two people would then stand to their feet and then either speak with tongues and the other interpret; or they would both begin to move throughout the congregation laying hands on everyone, prophesying or casting out demons. The fear of the Lord would fall.
Whenever we let a meeting get to this stage, some people would end-up becoming so drunk in the Spirit they'd have to be carried home.
Often they would become so filled with the Spirit that they would continue speaking with tongues for days.
By the time these people got to their schools or universities later in the week, unsaved students would begin falling under the power of God in the class rooms. Then they'd get back up on their feet with tears asking, "What have we got to do to be saved?"
As people continued to be taught the Word of God, the church grew so much that a building-extension needed to be made.
The Holy Spirit led members to go out evangelizing.
New ministries were raised-up and appointed by the Holy Spirit.
This wasn't done by the will of man - it was the will of the Holy Spirit.
We experienced revival - all because we learned how to let the Holy Spirit do His will during meetings.