Do you know what I want to do for you today? By the grace of God, I want to stir up your spiritual hunger. I want to whet your appetite and ignite your faith to receive a fresh touch of the fire of God.
Every believer I know (myself included!) could use a fresh touch of that fire right now. Every one of us need to have personal and radical encounters with the Master that set us freshly ablaze for Him. Why?
Because we have callings on our lives we haven’t yet fulfilled. We have things to do for God we haven’t yet done. Many of us have glimpsed those things with the eyes of our spirit in times of prayer. We’ve seen them dart by like little fish in an aquarium and thought, God wants me to do that!
But we haven’t been able to act on what we’ve seen because to do so we must receive something more from God. To move into the next phase of His plan for our lives we must be further equipped. We must undergo the kind of transformation that only happens through new and life-changing experiences with the Lord.
“But Lynne,” you might say, “I’m a faith person. I don’t believe we need spiritual experiences. I just believe the Word.”
I believe the Word too. That’s why I believe in spiritual experiences. The Word is full of them. It’s packed from beginning to end with stories about people who had destiny-shaping experiences with God.
The Coal of Fire That Changed Everything
Think about Isaiah, for instance. He was divinely destined to be a prophet. He was called to speak the Word of the Lord. But at one point in his life, he hit a roadblock. He couldn’t fulfill his calling because he sensed he was unworthy. “Woe is me, for I am undone!” he cried, “Because I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5 NKJV).
What did God do to help him? He sent an angel, and as Isaiah said:
[The angel] flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.” (vv. 6–7)
Talk about an experience! That one changed Isaiah dramatically. It catapulted him into his calling. It took him from feeling inadequate to speak for God to saying, “Here am I, Lord, send me!” (v. 8). It unsealed his lips, set them aflame, and made God’s Words burn in him like a fire shut up in his bones!
“Yes, but that happened in Old Testament times.”
True. But it happened in the New Testament too.
In the first chapter of Acts, for instance, the early believers faced a situation much like Isaiah’s. They’d been commissioned by the Lord to go into all the world and witness for Jesus, with miracles, signs, and wonders following. But they didn’t yet have the power to do it. Although Jesus had promised they would be baptized with the Holy Ghost, and with fire (Matthew 3:11), they hadn’t yet had that experience.
Have you ever thought about what it must have been like in the upper room on the day of Pentecost? As they prayed and waited on the Lord, the atmosphere must have crackled with anticipation. It must have been electric in there because those believers were not only spiritually hungry, they fully expected God to do something.
Sure enough, He did!
He totally submerged those 120 believers in the fire of His Holy Spirit. He came upon them and filled them with so much of Himself that they spilled out onto the streets of Jerusalem praising God in other tongues and telling of His marvelous works. Peter (who’d previously denied Jesus) preached the Gospel with such boldness and supernatural utterance that 3,000 people were saved.
I’d call that an experience with God, wouldn’t you?
Bridging the Gap With a Radical Encounter
All through the book of Acts, we see people having those kinds of God-experiences. One of the most striking took place in the life of a man named Saul. He was traveling around persecuting the church when one day on the road to Damascus…
“Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him, and he fell to the ground. Then he heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me [harassing, troubling, and molesting Me]? And Saul said, Who are You, Lord? And He said, I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting. It is dangerous and it will turn out badly for you to keep kicking against the goad [to offer vain and perilous resistance]. Trembling and astonished he asked, Lord, what do You desire me to do? The Lord said to him, But arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do. The men who were accompanying him were unable to speak [for terror], hearing the voice but seeing no one. Then Saul got up from the ground, but though his eyes were opened, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.” (Acts 9:3–8 Amp.)
You know the rest of the story. In Damascus, a disciple named Ananias was told by the Lord in a vision to go pray for Saul to be filled with the Holy Spirit and receive the restoration of his sight. Ananias protested because Saul was reputedly dangerous, but the Lord told him to go anyway. “For this man is a chosen instrument of Mine to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the descendants of Israel” (v. 15).
There was a wide gap between where Saul started out in that story as a persecutor of the church and his God-ordained call to be a chosen instrument of the Lord! For him to bridge that gap he had to undergo a great change. He had to have a head-on collision with Jesus that was so radical and hard-hitting it knocked the “S” off the front of his name and stuck a “P” there. It turned him from Saul into Paul.
That’s the kind of thing that always happens when Jesus reaches out and touches you!
It changes you, permanently. It’s like a fire brand from heaven marks your heart, and you’re never the same again.
I’ll always remember the first time the Lord touched me like that. I’d been born again for a while, but I’d never had a particularly radical encounter with the Lord. I knew nothing at all about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I did have a Bible, though, and the more I read the New Testament, the more I looked at the mighty signs and wonders in the book of Acts, the hungrier I became to experience more of God.
Comparing the lives of the early believers to my own life, the discrepancy between the two provoked in me a heart-cry. “Lord, I see the encounters those people had with You, but what about me?” I cried. “Oh God, come now and touch me! Come now and fill me. Come in Your power. Come in Your fire and do something for me like You did for them!”
No Little Sparks, a Big Bonfire
Thinking back about it now, I’m reminded of a story I read once about an Native American Chief. He heard a missionary preach in the 1930s about the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire. The message stirred in him such a huge hunger for God he could hardly contain it. “Me no want little sparks!” he told the missionary. “Me want a big bonfire!”
That’s how I was in those early days. I wasn’t just saying words when I prayed for more of God. I wasn’t just reading faith confessions off a paper. I was calling out passionately for the Lord to do something big in me. I was releasing a fierce heart-cry filled with spiritual hunger.
God always answers that kind of hungry heart cry… and on March 17, 1973, He answered mine.
Although that was 45 years ago now, I still haven’t forgotten that night. Unable to sleep because of the churning in my spirit I’d gotten out of bed and gone into our little sitting room to pray. As I poured out my desire for the Lord, my heart cried. My soul wept for Him to come.
Then suddenly He did!
He manifested His presence and flooded the room with so much of His power I fell on the floor. He touched me with the fire of His Spirit and it surged from the top of my head, all the way through my body, to the souls of my feet. It was like somebody had poured gasoline on me and struck a match.
It Doesn’t Matter What “Type” You Are
“Well, Sister Hammond, you’re just the emotional type,” somebody might say. “People don’t always have feelings when they have an encounter with God.”
Are you kidding me? When the Lord Jesus Christ—the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Creator of the Universe, the One who hung the stars in the sky—touches you, I don’t care whether you’re “the type” or not, it has an emotional effect. You feel something as surely as if you’d put your finger in a light socket!
What I felt that night immediately set me to laughing and crying and praying in other tongues. I didn’t really understand what was happening because I’d never heard anybody pray in tongues before. But I kept doing it anyway… nonstop… hour after hour… all night long.
When morning came I said, “Lord, I have some responsibilities. I can’t just stay here on the floor laughing and crying and praying all day. You’ll have to lift this off me a little.” He did, of course, but even so I was never the same again. After that experience, I walked in such a consciousness of God that at times I expected the trees and grass to start singing praises to Him.
What’s more, I couldn’t shut up about Him. I wanted to tell everybody about my Jesus. I wanted to tell people about how He saved me, how He healed me, how He delivered me from depression. I couldn’t just sit back and be quiet anymore. I had to talk about my Lord!
That wasn’t the last experience I had with Him either. I’ve had many others over the years, and every one of them has changed me because that’s what experiences with Him do. They change your life forever. They equip you to move ahead in your divine destiny. They propel you into new places in God and empower you to do the things He’s called you to do.
No matter where we are in our spiritual walk right now, we all need more of the Holy Spirit’s transforming power in our lives. We all need a fresh touch of heavenly fire. So, let’s get hungry for it. Let’s press into Jesus until we can cry out, not casually but with fierce desire, like the African evangelist I heard about many years ago who set out to take that continent for God, “Lord, dip me in the kerosene of Your Spirit! Set my heart on fire so that I can burn for You!”
Precious friend, I so treasure the divine connection we have in the Lord, and I am so ever grateful for your partnership in this ministry of prayer. Thank you for standing with me, praying with me, and giving as the Lord leads. Together we are helping to stir up a bonfire of the Holy Spirit that is spreading all around the world.
Until I write again, keep praying, keep rejoicing and shining brightly for Jesus.
I have a special CD I want to give you today as a thank you for any gift you give. It is my message entitled, Staying Hungry for God. Simply go online here and give in the Prayer Notes/Lynne Letter designation and we’ll send one out to you. You can also give by calling us toll free at 1-877-358-3327.