Stepping off the plane in August 2019, the reality finally hit us. We were aiming to reach people for Christ in one of the most secular, wealthy, postmodern, and progressive countries in the world—Iceland. How? Simply through the power of prayer. We knew there were hurting people in need of Christ. We had one question on our minds: would the God of the New Testament show up? Were the miracles of Acts 2 just that? Belonging in Acts 2?
Taking God at His Word and armed with gospel tracts and much united prayer, 50 missionaries from six continents spent hours interceding for this mission field, asking God to empty us of ourselves and fill us with the Holy Spirit. We didn’t know any better. Like the disciples, when we lifted up our eyes we “saw no one but Jesus only” (Matt. 17:8).1 Like the apostles, we acknowledged, “We are fools for Christ’s sake” (1 Cor. 4:10). We went door-to-door praying with and for the people of Iceland.
Incredible divine appointments took place as we gave God the chance to lead this ministry of intercession. On fire to point this country to a prayer-answering God, after several days the group had not only been able to pray for and give tracts to thousands of Icelanders, including leaders of the country but had also collected countless prayer requests, which they shared with each other for constant prayer via WhatsApp. We haven’t stopped praying for these requests since we returned. People will be running to know who this God is who answers prayers. It’s nothing we have done—but what God did.
Sometimes, despite working hard and following well-laid plans, programs, and promising methods for congregational growth, baptismal numbers are meager. And even though you’ve modernized the worship service and are offering a variety of ministries, members don’t seem to be growing spiritually.
Maybe reading the book of Acts makes you feel guilty or like a failure. Where are those thousands joining the church each day, today? Where are the miracles of transformation? Where is the success of the gospel in 2020? Have you not, after all, followed the advice of ministry bestsellers and research, set up big community outreach events, and used the newest technological tools for ministry?
Too often, we rely on plans that might, from a human perspective, be brilliant. But while these have their place, we tend to forget that only the One who created the mind truly knows it. At Dwight L. Moody’s funeral, Dr. C. I. Scofield, in summarizing the ingredients of Moody’s impactful ministry, said: “He was baptized with the Holy Spirit, and he knew it. It was to him as definite an experience as his conversion.”2
Experiencing Spirit-filled ministry boils down to a three-step process of faith:
- Surrender yourself, your plans, methods, and ministry to God. Recognize that you are but dust without Him.
- Daily ask for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Greek in Luke 11:13 indicates that the asking is an ongoing, continual process. This happens through a deep and regular prayer life.
- Follow and believe God’s Word and methods above human theories and inventions. Then, with confidence and faith, do the works that Christ has prepared for you, always listening for God’s still, small voice.
Do you desire more than just meager, statistical success primarily based on human methodology? Do you want to tap into the limitless power of God and have a Spirit-filled ministry? Do you want to see hurting people reached for Christ? Ask God every day to completely immerse you in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
Watch Him transform your ministry into the next chapter of the book of Acts!
- All Scripture in this article is taken from the New King James Version.
- V. Raymond Edman, They Found the Secret (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 105.