Again, excuse any mistakes - it was typed up pretty late :X
OUTPOURING - G.W. North
It would be true to say that all over the world men and women taught of God wait and pray for an outpouring of the Spirit. This is an account of one such outpouring on a local church some 30-35 years ago. From it sprang one stream of what has been called the House Church Movement in this land. Its impact therefore is still with us and its effects are being felt in many lands.
It is not very easy to trace the beginnings of the movements of Gods Spirit. To be very doctrinal - perhaps even dismissive, though obviously correct - it could and should be said that it all began with God. Taking that as indispensably true, it is also true that there are human reasons for, if not sources of, heavenly blessings. This article is an attempt to show what these were and to publish some facts connected with the outpouring.
The people who were granted this favour were a very small company drawn together from different parts of a certain northern city, and gathered in hired premises down-town. The theme of ministry among them at the time was entire sanctification wrought in them by the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire, resulting in holiness of life in all its breadth and length and depth and height. This was the desire of everyone, and the experience of some. Above all else people wanted to be rid of sin; everyone felt he or she must come right through into what God wanted them to be in Christ. There can be no doubt that this is one of the main reasons for the outpouring; the second reason is the volume and intensity of prayer which accompanied that longing.
Something in the people made them pray. Asked for a reason, they probably would not have known precisely what to say, they just prayed. Had they been asked, Are you praying for revival?, they might have said, Yes. Do you pray for souls? - Yes of course. But to have said what the specific purpose of the prayer meetings would have been beyond anyones power. They prayed because they wanted to. They did not pray because they believed in prayer - they came together for that purpose and loved it, and they prayed as though they could not help it, they were a people and they just prayed as though possessed of a power and under an urge they could not resist. Perhaps the most correct description of that praying is outpouring: there is no better word to describe it, nothing less would do it or them justice.
SPIRIT OF PRAYER AND OF SUPPLICATION
These people were seeking the outpouring of the Spirit of God: to gain it they poured out their own spirits. In this act they did: not all at once though, nor yet immediately: they poured out day after day, week after week, month after month. Hours upon hours - how many, only God knows. Surely it must be that before He poured out as they were seeking Him to, God first poured out upon them the spirit of prayer and of supplication - all glory must be His. But praise to them also, that they were big and determined enough to sustain the burden and scriptural enough to give themselves to such prayer and supplication so constantly for so long.
Occasions for prayer were multiplied. As one heart the little band gave themselves over to God for His will to be done. It seemed they could not get enough prayer together, no price was too great to pay, they spared themselves nothing. Special rubber pads were made to protect knees during long hours of hard contact with the floor; hours would fly past, they were without weariness in the loved communion. The communion of their spirits with God and each other was beyond time and discomfort. The secret of David became their secret too, they poured out their hearts before the Lord and found such one-ness as they had never before known. There is no other way of prayer than this, no church can find one-ness until it learns to pray together. Praising together will not do it, it will accomplish something, but not that. Togetherness in such actions as singing and dancing does not signify one-ness in spirit. Outpourings of hearts concerned about the outpouring of the Spirit will accomplish one-ness, nothing else will, for nothing else can.
TEACH US TO PRAY
Oh, how greatly the churches need to ask and plead with the Lord teach us to pray; every human being needs to be taught to pray by the Lord. The men who first made the request had seen and heard the Lord praying and had been mightily moved, they knew they had witnessed a most wonderful and indescribably thing. No one ever records, leave alone describes, that prayer. Oh teach us, was their hearts cry, Make our beings pray like Thine. What an exercise is prayer - not an exercise in words, but an exercise of life - of the whole being, spirit, soul and body. Later these men were to witness prayer in its greatest form - a man on His face in a garden, pouring out His heart to His Father till sweat ran from him like blood. Prayer was to Him an exercise of the whole man, all of it, spirit, body, mind, heart, strength, blood: His words were few, almost nil, and He took an hour to say them. Let every man know that which causes the outpourings of the Spirit must be the praying of the whole being, because the one who obtained that outpouring for man gave His whole being for it - everything must be in it, nothing less. All desire, all emotion, all the will, all affection, all imagination, all power, all purpose, the whole man. The entire being must be handed over in total abandonment to the Spirit to be led into it by Him. There must be no formulas of words called prayers, no quotes, no copying other peoples ideas about this; it must be the fixed purpose of the heart to abandon to God without resource but Him. Theories, formulas, must be forsaken for however appropriate and beautiful they may seem to be, they imprison the spirit, set limits for the mind, and fetter the soul. There must be neither prescription not proscription - abandonment to the uttermost degree is the requirement for outpouring; that is the only proof to God of the perfect trust God requires of a man. He required it of His Son ere He could pour out the Holy Spirit, and to this abandonment the Lord left that little band those years ago, and their praise is that they gave themselves over to it with love and joy and zeal. I suppose it is true to say that the result was inevitably a forgone conclusion.
GOD DID TREMENDOUS THINGS
Suddenly one day God poured out His Spirit upon them. Thats the way it happened, and it was wonderful; happy are all they who witnessed and experienced it. In the instance they lived and continued to live in the fire and glory of it. Overwhelmed, they continued in prayer and the outpouring came as recurring waves of the sea, three in all, over a period of time (it extended over some months) God did tremendous things. One result was that the prayer band increased, men and women came and joined with the others on their faces before God. They were wonderful times - will they ever be repeated? That group discovered the secret that all may discover, and without which the great outpouring cannot be.
That is how it happened in the very beginning. For ten days, from the day of the Lords Ascension to Pentecost, they were all praying together. They werent told to organize a ten day prayer meeting, neither were they told to pray and certainly not what to pray, they were just told to tarry. What if it had been ten months? Would some have failed to keep trust? God did not fix a date with them. Neither does He now, He has everything fixed in His calendar of course, but He doesnt fix a date for you and me. What He wants to know is, are we concerned enough to wait upon Him, do we really want the outpouring? These are the tests He puts to us, but are we made of the right stuff? What happens, all the period of waiting seems as nothing, it was pure joy and sufficient reward of itself! The thrill and blessing of pouring out their hearts was so wonderful that those people would have felt it all worthwhile even if there had been no results. Perhaps they ought to have been more expectant, but no one said he or she was. They had not been praying for revival particularly, they wanted souls saved into purity of heart and fullness of the Spirit, it was sheer joy of prayer that drew them together and held them. They had discovered new realms of prayer and might have been content with that. Perhaps God poured out His Spirit because He was pleased with them. But whatever it was, this they discovered - when God pours out His Spirit, it is bliss.
MAN CANNOT CHOOSE
There was nothing that was wrong that was not put right, it was amazing how these people were knit together. All sorts came and were met by God, things that they had formerly thought were important to their lives just disappeared. A complete new set of values came, almost everything seemed new. It was simply glorious. If only those days of lying before God had never ceased. Of course when the outpouring comes, God prepares His vessels by it that through them He may do His will in the earth, Man cannot choose, but to this day many of the group could wish those days to return again. They would gladly give up all preaching and travelling around, all reading and writing, if only they could drink again at that wonderful stream and sink neath the powerful wave. All who are stationary in the fellowships have the golden opportunity to hand if only they will grasp it. If only people would do the thing they can do and not long for anything other than that, there would be such a response from God.
Just get before Him and lie there on your face. Lying on the face before the Lord is a wonderful position for prayer, and absolutely right. It wasnt the enforced rule in those days, but it was nothing to look around after a couple of hours or so and see some on their faces, or somebody doubled up with his head between his knees. Others would be sitting down with their backs against the wall, somebody else would be kneeling, and somebody else walking around praying. Once a man, intense in prayer, lost his false teeth - they came out of his mouth and shot across the floor. Undeterred, he kept praying and walked them, with a swift movement he re-inserted them with hardly a break in the flow. Oh, how God used to work!
WORDS WERENT NEEDED
The great Wesley hymns were fundamental to many peoples experiences, they used to sing them over and over again, rejoicing and glorying in God; choruses also had a part, but a less significant one. The sound of rejoicing saints is more wonderful when the Spirit of God is working. The Church was on the busiest road in the city, the traffic noise scarcely broke, yet on occasions people walking down the road hardly heard the busses for the noise of the people shouting. God used to so move them that it seemed a wonder the roof was left on the place. This was balanced at times with great quietness; it descended upon all, a stillness when every breath was stilled and when no-one moved - the presence of the Spirit was so real that no-one wanted to anyway. Spiritual awareness was unspeakably profound. Words werent needed, to sit on chairs in the glory of the Lords presence was all anybody wanted or needed. Sometimes that would go on for the best part of an hour: it was breath-taxingly glorious - everyone appeared to stop breathing, no-one even said, Jesus, though to hear the Name was electrifying, as many confessed.
From that time and occasion came all the ministry anyone of that company received. During that time God laid foundations. He opened his treasure stores of love and wisdom and knowledge, and taught souls, storing them so full of the Holy Ghost, and they became so used to God. His ways and works and words were laid deep inside, mines if treasure inexpendable and inexhaustible. All the revelation of the New Covenant and the new birth, and the true baptism in the Spirit came out of those days, the church rejoiced in truth. Knowledge of these things does not automatically come with the baptism in the Spirit; that blessed baptism is just a gateway. God intends everyone to go in that way, but do not make the mistake made by so many, namely to retain the baptism you must keep the original feelings you had when you were baptized. Just go in and in, and on and on with God. Let him teach you and show you all these treasuries of wisdom and knowledge, they are for you.
PRAYER RISES FROM GOD WITHIN THE HEART OF MAN
If you have never been in such meetings or experienced the blessings of Gods presence and power, know that all these things are laid up for you, but you must apply yourselves to it. Find out how many in your group spend one clear solid hour in prayer in one week. What if it were two hours? Remember the group that used to spend hour upon hour upon hour with the Lord. Not that revival, or whatever you want to call it, is a reward for sticking it out on your knees: it isnt that. That group did say once that they would never have conferences unless they were prayer conferences. But they wondered whether if they advertised a week of prayer anyone would come. Would you? They had so learned what prayer wand waiting on God could do, that they felt that everybody should just come together and pray, that was all. To ask what makes a man pray is to almost dumbfound him, a praying man cannot tell you what it is that makes him do it, it just rises within. Certain amount of discipline is necessary, but it is not that. Prayer rises from God within the heart of man and anyone who sets out on a life of prayer without that is sure to fail. Unless it is something in your heart from God, it cannot be the prayer God inspires.
FREE FROM SELF
What is this prayer life? Among that group, very few people ever prayed for themselves, or if they did it was not for long. When they first came into this tremendous atmosphere of prayer, some did ask God to do something for them, but only because they realized they were not in it. Once they got in that was the end of prayer for self. Free from self, prayers and outpourings abounded for anything, anyone any situation anywhere. There never was a list for prayer, nobody ever stood up and said: now well pray for so and so. No directions - nothing. It became the rule that nobody brought their Bibles. The general approach was, they didnt have Bibles on the day of Pentecost, did they? The Bible says they continued in prayer, and says nothing about Bible reading. IT is an amazing thing that many people cant pray unless they have their Bibles open in front of them. After a man has been pouring his heart out for half an hour, it is very dispiriting to look up and find people bending in a holy attitude, reading their Bibles. You could stay at home and read your Bible. It was the same with the hymn book. Nobody ever got up and announced a hymn, or anything like that, yet if anyone started a chorus of spontaneous praise, it wouldnt be long before everybody joined in. Beloved, do you really pray? And do you pray in a realm and in a way far removed from your own needs, or what you think your needs are? Financial; domestic or personal? Are you liberated from your own self yet? No-one is liberated from self until self is set right. A right self is a self liberated from self. Always. This is the reason Jesus could say, Ive come to do My Fathers will: He was completely clear of self. Its glorious to be free without feeling condemnation or need in your spirit in the presence of God. It is completely impossible to describe this to others, only those that are there know it.
Such worship, such language, unknown before, fills the heart and lips. One day a man from the firm next door to the church premises asked if the purpose was to turn the church into a New Testament church. Thats right was the answer - but what made him ask a question like that? Somehow he knew! In the end, New Covenant Fellowship became the name that church took up. Such was the power and presence of the Spirit that never a weekend passed but 101 or 20 people sought the Lord. Souls were met in their needs, bodies were healed, devils cast out, all sorts of things happened; things that ought to happen regularly in every church as the norm. People unknown used to come in and it didnt matter what their needs were, they were met. Sometimes they used to call out for mercy or salvation while the preaching was in progress. Some even fell off their chairs. The Spirit of God was working, everybody was centred on that, you see, grown ups and youth, everybody, seemed to live for that only. The young ups and youth, used to be there so much that some of their parents objected and said, Its a wonder they dont take their beds down to that place/ They were just young people in their early teens, but they were there; on their knees praying, pouring out their hearts unto God. Hallelujah. Moving on to heights of glory. Its a glorious sight to see youngsters mixing with grown ups, eager to be with them, but thats how it should be. It IS when God pours out his Spirit.
GET INTO BATTLE WITH GOD
One of the great things about the Salvation Army in the early days, was knee drill. The fire came and swept through them. Have you heard of a book called, What happened at Azusa Street? Years and years of prayer. They just went on and on, and thats what God will do with you if you let Him. But do you want Him to? Many are baptized in the Spirit, they speak of being sanctified, and have the gift of tongues, but so what? It is not Gods will that anyone should just rest in the baptism and sanctification and tongues, that is only just the beginning. You cannot spend the rest of your life just coming together and singing and praying in tongues, can you? How monotonous that would be. We all must get into the battle with God. Get right down there on your face with God, and pray and pray, and wait on Him: let the Spirit exercise you. Sometimes He will take you up to heaven, sometimes He will bring you right down on the floor and smash you: and beloved, that will probably be the most blissful experience of your life. It sounds strange, doesnt it? It isnt though, not when God really gets holds of you and exercises you, and carries you out in the Spirit. Then there will come a time when you stop praying and look at the watch, and say, An hour and a half? Two hours? Where has all the time gone? Where have you been? Youve been in heaven. Thats what God wants for us. Not the boring daily exercise of grinding through this, that and the other, but joyous meeting with the Lord. He is waiting for you to wait upon Him; its you He is waiting for - you. Do you remember that great text, If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chron 7:14). When Gods people really seek His face, he begins to do big things. He pours out the Spirit. He meets great needs. Oh, its so marvellous.
WHEN GOD IS MOVING EVERYTHING CHANGES
One night when God was really moving among the people, someone stood up to sing, and the next moment he was down on the floor. Some of the people there had not seen much like it before, and one man rushed over to pick the lady up. Leave her alone, came the command. She crawled along the floor to the front, like a serpent the preacher leaned over the pulpit, took hold of her hands and laid her elbows and arms on a chair, and there she stayed until God put her right. When God is at work there is no need for counsellors. People fell down or got right down on their knees, and were told to stay there until they had the witness of God in their heart that the work was done. When you have got the witness of God in your own heart that its done, go and sit down. God used to do it all: no counsellors, no props, no-one but the Lord. Everybody who responded was dealt with there, right in front of the congregation. It was wonderful. When God is moving everything changes. Even the way people get saved is changed, so is the way they get healed. It really is amazing, everything changes when a church is in the Spirit. God wants you to expect it. He wants you to hunger for it. Thirst for it, move into it.
Are you ready to move into this? Then let nothing stand in your way. There are certain things which are duties. Do those, but keep them down to the bare minimum - more and more reduce everything to basic necessities, and give the rest of your time to the Lord. Let Him get right hold of you. Dont rest in the fact that youre a son of God, or in the fact that youre a Spirit-baptized person, or that you have this gift, or you hold that office. Do not rest in anything like that, go right through with God: prove that youre worthy of holding the office, if you have one. Lead the people on into this, set them the example. That is what God is requiring of all leaders, let the older ones tech the younger ones. We all have a responsibility in this. Are you ready to bear yours? This is the kind of atmosphere in which things happen.
One Sunday night, an elderly lady came out to the front - she was nearly 80. The next Sunday night her grandchild, who was nearly 8, came out. Thats the way the Gospel works over the whole age range. It was not a childrens message that week, or a grannys message the week before. It was the same Gospel preached in the same way. Everybody understands when the Spirit is working. It is an amazing thing.
REAL PRAYER IS LIKE A BURNING FLAME
It is a marvellous privilege to hear a real man or woman of God praying in the Spirit: men and women have to recognize that until then they do not know what prayer is. A Church of England curate, holding a responsible position, and in line for top offices, came into a meeting where a few people were gathered for prayer. It frightened him to death nearly, he had never heard people pray like that before in his life. On his own confession he didnt know where to go and hide himself. Oh, to learn to pray. Prayer, real prayer, beloved, is like a burning flame, a furnace - prayer is a spirit alive and alight with God. To hear a man or a woman really praying is to hear the voice of God speaking, for prayer is not prayer until God engages with God. That is how the Spirit was outpoured in the first place: God went and engaged with God. God the Son engaged with God the Father, and God the Father poured out the Spirit. That is the kind of praying we must have, until we reach that position, beloved, it will not happen. No man can drag himself in by his sweat, or by his own hair, the Spirit has got to get hold of you: youve got to be possessed, and nobody gets possessed who doesnt open up to get possessed. This must be thoroughly understood. A man must open himself up to God deliberately. Whether young or old, it must be done and its the easiest thing in the world. Young people can get into it so easily, but Mums and Dads are so stiff. Once in a prayer meeting a man was moving along in his spirit with the others, and then all of a sudden, God opened his mouth. His daughter was at that prayer meeting, and said to him, You prayed for 25 minutes Dad. So he had, and when he had finished, two men were on the floor. How can you pray like that and have that effect? Who can say? Something gets hold of a man, and he becomes abandoned to the Spirit. This man went upstairs with one of those men afterwards; I must see you he said. As soon as they were upstairs, he said, What did you come here for? We were all right until you came here. He couldnt stand up and say it, either, he fell down. Praying exposed the devil. Prayer is like opening the door of a blast furnace. Prayer is a man getting hold of God, by the Holy Spirit. And God exposing Himself for the grip: wanting it. He cannot do this for some, because they do not know what prayer is, not really. When they heard Jesus praying, men said: Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples. And John, you know, was a bright and shining light, he must have been pretty hot, and pretty bright and clear for the Lord to say that of him. But when God really gets hold of you
some of you who have never shouted in your lives will shout so loud youll probably make people ashamed of you. But if youre too decent to let Him get hold of you like that, youll never shout of course. Prayer. This kind of prayer never until a man gets beside himself. You never received Christ until you got beside yourself. You were never baptized in the Holy Ghost until you beside yourself; and you cant pray, you cant preach, man, until you get beside yourself. All this is to do with the consuming fire, that burns and burns.
One of our elders, a dear Yorkshire man, used to shout with a shout so loud that the wicked used to tremble. One day he said, Brother, if I dont shout, I dont seem to be able to get hold of God. You wouldnt have thought he was shouting though, there was no strain about it. Do you understand that? Theres shouting and shouting. Noise and noise. You understand that, dont you? Noise for noise sake is useless. But when God baptized men in the Holy Ghost in the beginning, there was a sound like a mighty rushing wind. You know what caused the sound of the mighty rushing wind, dont you? The fire was coming. Youve heard a fire roaring? It is caused because the fire is consuming the oxygen out of the atmosphere. When fire comes, roaring, consuming, all the oxygen is burned out of the atmosphere. The lesson of Pentecost is that man has to live by God. When did you learn it? Did you never have this baptism of fire?
A HEART FULL OF HOLY PASSION
If anybody has got the fire, he or she will make a noise at times, and you may not like it, because youre one of those quiet decent people. God knows that you love Him; nobodys questioning that. But Im telling you that theres a place beyond yourself and you have to reach it if you want Gods best. Man, woman, youngster, elder, it doesnt matter who you are, high or low, you must get there. This is not a nice quiet drawing room event, not this. Consuming fire is what the Book talks about. You say, Really?. You may be wanting to disagree with me now, but youll know when youre through. When youre consumed. When your heart is full of holy passion. When fire for God really rakes hold of you, then you will know that somehow the poor, flickering torch that we sing about, has passed into the eternal fire and is burning in one great consuming glowing flame with God. Remember that fire begets fire. Some men act so self-contradictorily in these things. When a min is in sin, the strongest passions of him burn like fire. They are fire, they must be or else a man is not a human being.
Behold then that when God gets hold of a man and switches all over onto the Spirit, all the fire is of God. Oh, the beauty, the glory and the purity of it. Oh, the wonder of being extended for God, given right over, gone beyond yourself. Gone beyond time, gone beyond limits to the place where outpourings of your heart, through your own mouth, shake you to the very foundations of your being. Whether it be preaching or praying, or prophesying, there must be that glorious quality about it that comes right through from the fire of God. Have you ever been consumed by the fire of God? You cant get there by closing your eyes and rolling up your eyeballs, thinking that it will help you to be carried away into God. It is not that. It is going with purpose, to set yourself aside for God; the giving over of yourself; the gathering of yourself together for it. There is nothing so tremendous for the church, nothing that will make the fire of holy love burn more in every member, than that the church should get together on their knees and on their faces before God. It will do far more good for the church than all the sermons and all the prophesying and all the tongues speaking, though they all have their place. That New Covenant Fellowship group would speak in tongues, and interpret and prophesy, all the gifts would function, but it wasnt that. This is that which cannot be defined, or detailed, it is that which either you know or you dont know, it is that which a man, though he might never have experienced it, knows is right.
GOD WILL TEACH ANY MANY TO PRAY
Some time ago two men were talking together, two very well-known men. The conversation got round to prayer, and when one said what prayer should accomplish, the other said, Ive done more without prayer than youve done with it. Oh, God, what a boast. This is a leader in the new move. Another man said hes discovered he could do without his quiet time and waiting on God. He also was a leader. Jesus did not think He could do without it. Who then is the leader and where are the people going? Beloved brothers and sisters, praying or not praying is an indication of your life with God, a very basic one. It is not what is achieved by prayer - that is not the most important thing. The disciples recognized that: they did not say, Teach us how to pray so that we can do this, or that, they just said, Lord teach us to pray. Remember Gods words, When My people who are called by My name HUMBLE THEMSELVES and pray. God will teach any many to pray, He will not teach them not to pray. When a man prays, God gets hold of that man and that man gets hold of God, the result will be tremendous blessings.
A GREAT CIRCLE OF PRAYER
The early church did not have a Bible to read or study, but they knew how to pray (see Acts chapter 4). Prayer was before the Bible was: pray. Do you? If you have to choose between doing this, that, or the other, pray, give yourself over to do it, let it become habitual. Beware of the blessing mentality, which bargains with God - If I pray Ill get the blessing. That is like saying, I will tithe so that God will bless me. Too many people approach it from that angle, but that is not the way: pray from urge. Have you ever handed yourself right over that God should take you over until the flame burns unashamedly in your life, burning through all your restraints and respectability, and restrictions? The Amalekites were beaten when Moses lifted up his hands. The Amalekites were the most persistent foe of all, but Moses uplifted hands were more persistent: Aaron and Hur saw to it that they were. Those three men knew that the only way to beat the doe was the constancy of the upheld hands. Do you understand that? People have no power to go down to defeat because they fail to sustain power. The disciples were promised that they would receive power after the Holy Ghost had come upon them to be witnesses unto Christ, and when it happened this is how that power manifested itself. Three thousand gladly received what the apostles said and were baptized and continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread and in prayers. They had power to pray, you see; power to continue steadfastly. That is how power came to them in the beginning: they continued with one accord in prayer for ten days BEFORE Pentecost, and AFTER Pentecost they continued steadfastly in prayer: this time with teaching and fellowship and breaking of bread. Do you see? Its a circle, a great circle of prayer. For lack of this, a church, though baptized in the Spirit, has no real power. People sometimes say, Ive been baptized in the Spirit, but when asked to show their power they cannot do so. They are blessed, without a doubt, and that is lovely, as it should be. This is like a present or a reward for being a good boy or a good girl. But where is that power? They continued steadfastly. That means they set their beings in one direction. The baptism in the Spirit makes a man steadfast; doubt your baptism if you are not steadfast. They went on and on and on
they continued, and became witnesses unto Jesus Christ. God make you all giants of prayer, men and women of intercession. God make you princes in power with God.
Celebrate His victory. And when Hes conquered you, and can do as He likes with you, thats the time to celebrate another victory. When you see Him conquering and conquering and conquering, thats the time to go on and on and on. When you experience difficulty after difficultly, enemy after enemy, being destroyed and overcome, when you see these wonderful things taking place, go on and on and on praying. Amen.