Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Experience the Spirit Exercises 26 - 38

26. While half the group is singing Jesus is Lord, have the other half pray out loud what God is laying on their hearts.

27. Teach people how to speak their heart to God. I turn to how David spoke his heart to the Father in the Psalms as an example of this. One of the reasons I think David was so special to God was because David, while watching sheep alone for days or weeks at a time, was constantly singing and talking to God as his life unfolded before God. In doing so, David became the man after God’s own heart, a friend of God. It helps to think about saying this to someone who deeply loves you as you say or sing them.

Most people are not used to speaking deeply nor do many have the language skills to do so. So what I do is hand out a list of sample intimate statements for them to say. I have them say each of these statements several times so they can get used to saying them without their flesh blocking it. Worship is saying these intimate things before God, to express our longings and desires, needs and deep felt emotions to God. Say these things only after a time of praise and worship, when we want to engage more of our hearts with God. In my experience, singing these statements makes me feel much more vulnerable than just thinking them or saying them. Here are some heartfelt statements we have said to God during worship time:

I receive your love Father
I receive your acceptance of me.
Thank you Lord for you love (kindness, goodness, peace, joy, presence, etc.)
Draw me into you, Father.
Your love is important to me, it is life and breath.
I delight in love
I feel happy when you are near me, Father
Thank you for choosing me, Lord, for making me one of your own
Thank you for your favor, Lord
Change me, Father, so I can give what you want from me
Thank you, Lord, for being inside me and filling my heart
Expressing Love
I long for you, oh Lord
My heart smiles when your presence is here
I delight in the time I spend with you, Father
I delight in my relationship with you, Jesus
I am pleased that you enjoy me
I need you
I need your love (Wisdom, Guidance, care, friendship, discernment, gifts)
Your love makes me a better man
I am desperate for you
I am glad you are my Father
It gives me pleasure to talk to you
I bless you through this trial, as you guide me and give me wisdom that I may be found pleasing in your sight.
I want you in my innermost being
My heart aches to be in your presence.

28. Use the word GLORIFY and sing it in harmony several (or many) times. Then sing the same word in harmony several (or many) times. Then layer that melody with other melodies and words that come to mind while many are singing the original word and melody.

29. While laying on hands and praying over someone (for healing or whatever) have half the people sing a prophetic song while the other half prays.

30. Sing a prophetic melody without words.

31. Half the group sings their desires, longings and yearnings to Him while the other half sings praise and worship songs.

32. Have half the group sing praise songs while the other breaks into two or threes (with people they don’t know) and give their testimony of how Christ has worked in their lives.

33. At the beginning of the group, tell people that no matter what they have done in their lives (give horrific examples) that they will be loved and accepted in this place.

34. What to do when the presence of God does show up. Usually there is a pleasant feeling that accompanies the presence of the Spirit of God. But, I have noticed, if I focus on the feeling, it goes away pretty quickly. Why? Feelings are flesh and if I focus on my feelings, I am not focusing on presence of Jesus. If I want to keep the feeling, I must focus on what got the feeling there in the first place, focusing on praising and worshiping God. So, when I sense God, I am going to continue praising God for His goodness, or declaring him Lord, or saying intimate loving things to Him so my heart can continue to stay in his presence.

35. For people who struggle with shame, guilt, fear or habitual sin, have them confess it out loud while the rest of the group is singing praise and worship songs. Have the singing be so loud that no matter how loud they confess it, the praise and worship drown out their confession.

36. Don’t allow discussions of a religious nature. Period. The best sure-fire way of running off God is to have a discussion about whether or not one should be baptized, whether or not churches should have weekly communion or whether or not Adam had a belly-button. Engaging the mind during a worship session has the opposite effect on connecting with God for a time. Intellectual discussions, religious arguments, and esoteric discussions on some religious point runs God (and people) off. I am sure you will have to experiment with this point (as most do) but as a rule, just do praise, worship and prayer.

If religious discussions happen (because sometimes people want to avoid the presence of God) reassert the purpose of the meeting and ask that discussions of that nature be held until the meeting is over, or ask them to discuss it on another day, away from the group. Or if you are of a more passive aggressive sort, just start playing praise music and singing....real loud.

37. During prayer time, have members who need prayer to state what their problem is. As a general rule, prayer is, first of all, for the people present at the meeting or for members not present because of illness or some other person there. We laid on hands on members, declared the lordship of Jesus, then asked God for the words to pray. Instruct members to speak what God lays on their heart.

38. During the meeting, time should be allowed for people to confess sins as the Holy Spirit convicts their hearts. This could happen at anytime during the meeting but I encourage leaders to ‘strike while the iron is hot,’ meaning ‘sooner rather than later.’ I have seen God convict men’s hearts about affairs, porn, murder, stealing and other sins during worship time. Allow them to speak so they can be free of that burden. If this has not happened during a meeting (spontaneous sin confession) then, near the end of the meeting, there should be a time set apart for confession of sins. Confession is good for the soul and if the group is going to be a healing place for people, then confession must be allowed.

An effective method of getting people to open up about themselves is to make a statement similar to this: "We want you to find healing in this group. If there is anything burdening you, please tell us so we can pray for you. If you have stolen a 100 grand from your work, had an affair, are addicted to porn, drugs, alcohol, had sex with your grandmother, dog or whatever, this is a safe place to confess it and be free from it. You can’t scare us with your story, whatever it is, we want to help you, not judge you." This statement creates a safe place for people to talk.

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