It was a Sunday morning like any other Sunday morning. I was sitting beside my husband, Dan, and my father-in-law in the service, listening to Pastor Matt close the sermon. The band had walked up on stage and I began to pray for each person there—some specific prayer requests of the team members and overall for our ministry, leadership, and church body. I began to feel a very strong sense of the Spirit’s presence. I saw, or imagined, angels up top of either corner of the stage and got the sense that we were joining in a celebration that was ongoing, as if the angels were "cheering us on" as they were in every other church where the Gospel was being proclaimed on a Sunday morning.
The final points of Matt’s sermon were “Gospel, Gospel, Gospel, Gospel” (at least from what I remember) and in my heart was every single amen. The expression “stirred up in the Spirit” describes how I felt. I began to pray quietly, under my mask, and when Matt started to close in prayer, it couldn’t have been more in line with what I had already been praying. His prayer was so similar to what was in my heart and mind, I quite literally could not have agreed more.
I was praying, "amen, amen, amen" and eventually I found I couldn’t pray fast enough. And then, my lips and tongue started praying for me. I was very conscious that this was happening, and tried not to think too much about it. But of course I found myself thinking, “Is this happening? Don’t think too much about it, or it might stop.” I definitely did not want to force anything—I just let it happen. It wasn’t that extraordinary; I didn’t fall over or start flailing my arms or crying uncontrollably. Neither Dan, my father-in-law, nor anyone around us had any idea what had happened.
We continued on with the worship set and as the service ended, I prayed that the Spirit would lead me to whomever I should talk to afterwards. I knew it wasn’t something I wanted to “shout from the rooftops.” I felt very calm. I didn’t seek Matt out, but he ended up beside me and asked how I was doing. It seemed really clear in the moment that I should tell him. I said “Hey can I tell you something? This is kind of weird. As you were closing the sermon, I believe there were angels here. And I was so in agreement with what you were saying and praying, that I started praying in tongues.” He told me right away how encouraging that was and offered to pray for me. I kept it between Dan and I, and Matt, and then asked the Spirit how and when and to whom I should share in the weeks following.
I’m glad now that I told Dan and Matt that afternoon, otherwise, I may have doubted that it actually happened. I really believe that God answered my simple prayer of who to talk to after service. In the weeks to come, it wasn’t clear how or where I should use the gift. And to be honest, it still isn’t completely. But what seems to happen, is that when my soul is the most stirred up to intercede on behalf of our Body or anyone really, my mouth and tongue take over. When I feel very strongly about wanting to pray for a certain person, or a certain word (e.g. unity) over our body, is when I begin to pray in tongues. It’s often not audible. It flies under the radar as I am worshipping on a Sunday morning (which is when it happens most often).
I have also prayed this way in the car, without my kids thinking I’ve lost my mind. And the nice thing is, I haven’t lost my mind. As it’s happening, I am very much aware of what my heart longs for and what I am bringing to God. The reassurance comes in knowing that my prayers are aligned with His heart and that He is interceding better than I am with more knowledge, love, grace and eternal will and purpose than I ever could.
The verse that comes to mind is Romans 8:26:
"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words."
Sometimes I don’t know how to pray for the things I care most about. Having this gift allows me to do so, knowing that the best desires of my heart are nothing compared to what He longs for, plans, and wills.
I really hesitated to write this blog. I did not want to be the “poster child” for this gift. I feel so inexperienced, and I’ve never longed or asked for this gift. I wrote back to the church and asked if anyone else wanted to do it instead—perhaps someone more experienced. But hopefully this can encourage someone. When the Spirit falls, it doesn’t have to be extraordinary, super-mystical, and sensational; sometimes the Spirit moves in the most familiar, natural and "ordinary" ways.