Recently, while watching an old video clip of Kathryn Kuhlman addressing an audience of students at ORU, I was awestruck by how she opened the service. It was her prayer that really stirred my spirit. This general of the faith who is renown for her powerful, miraculous healing ministry let me in on the secret of her supernatural success.
She introduced the service with prayer, and cried out—"No one in the whole world is as hungry for more than the one who is speaking this morning…every atom of my being is crying out for more. There is so much more." This woman who had seen God do so much right before her very eyes was actually discontent coasting at her present level of revelation and experience. Though she unceasingly celebrated what God did and was doing, she also lived with a very healthy degree of tension that caused her to contend for every bit of "more" that God had made available through the indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit.
Right there in Kuhlman's voice, I heard two characteristics that will surely propel us into experiencing the supernatural in increasing measure in both our lives and ministries: Humility and hunger. When given a moment to reflect upon the leaders and spiritual pioneers who have most radically impacted my life, these two categories come up time and time again as common denominators.
Let me give you three examples of contemporary spiritual leaders who exemplify these essential traits, along with three characteristics we can learn from their approach to God, ministry and revival.
They Never Graduate From Being Extravagant Worshipers
I’ll start with a mentor from afar and a personal hero in the faith, Pastor Bill Johnson of Bethel Church. Do you know what I enjoy most about attending services out at Bethel? The worship. Not merely the music, although it is outstanding. Bethel, more than just a culture of the supernatural and miracles, is first and foremost a culture of extravagant Jesus-focused worship and senior leader, Bill Johnson, intentionally sets the tone. Watch their services – and catch a glimpse of Bill during worship. No, of course the aim of worship is not to look around at other people and peek at what they are doing. That said, it is impossible not to notice what leaders are/are not doing.
One of the most disheartening things to watch in the contemporary church are leaders who refuse to press into God’s Presence, as if they don’t need “that.” Speaking and preaching becomes like a gig and the music is simply their opening act. I understand there are logistics that we must be aware of, and final sermon preparation details to be mindful of. I get it. At the same time, people like Bill Johnson are so encouraging to watch during worship because as leaders, they demonstrate humility and hunger—and invite others into the same encounter with God. They are extravagant and wasteful with their worship. It is not for show; it is expressed out of a place of deep, raw intimacy with Jesus. Bill is always engaged, not out of duty or obligation, but just by watching him, you know that he recognizes there is more to God than he is currently experiencing and he is quite satisfied devoting the rest of his life to pressing in for more. Humble and hungry for sure.
They Are Never Above Getting On Their Faces and Crying Out For More
John Kilpatrick, current pastor of Church of His Presence in Daphne, AL, personifies this characteristic. You’ll remember Kilpatrick as the senior pastor of Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, FL during the nation-shaking revival that took place in the mid-90’s. My heart burns every time I hear him recall the days prior to that glorious Father’s Day outpouring in 1995. Kilpatrick was a desperate, spiritually hungry man—he still is.
In the days leading up to the revival, he would go out to the church in the middle of the night, sprawl out across the pews, and cry out in desperation for revival. He knew that there was more of God available and was dissatisfied living below everything that was accessible through the Holy Spirit. He pressed in, persevered, and as a result, experienced one of the greatest revivals to ever hit American soil. His church today in Daphne, AL is still enjoying the fruit of that outpouring, as waves of renewal washed in again back in July of 2010, when the Bay of the Holy Spirit revival broke out, Delia Knox was miraculous raised up out of her wheelchair, and countless lives since have been saved, healed, and delivered by the power of the living Christ.
The three men God used in powerful ways as catalysts for these revivals, Pastor John Kilpatrick, Evangelist Steve Hill (from Brownsville) and Evangelist Nathan Morris (of the Bay Revival) share the same common characteristic: They humbly recognize the need for more, and in hunger, press in for it to become a reality in their lives, their ministries/churches, and in the church as a whole.
They Are Never Beyond Going To Where God Is Moving
Finally, we have John and Carol Arnott (pastors of the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship and now, founders and leaders of Catch the Fire). Their desire for more of God sent them down to Argentina to receive prayer and impartation from Pastor Claudio Freidzon, who had been living in a sustained culture of revival and outpouring. What I love about the Arnotts is that they were more than willing to humble themselves and recognize that maybe, just maybe they did not have a corner on the God market—and they could actually learn from someone else. What does this mean to us? We need to be honest with ourselves, our spiritual conditions, and the condition of our churches and ministries. If we feel dry, dead, depleted, and running out of steam, we need to begin taking inventory—just as the Arnotts did—and come up with an action plan. While traveling to a different geography is surely not a cure all, I do believe one powerful way to ignite the fires of revival in our lives and in our communities is by connecting ourselves with what God is doing elsewhere.
Otherwise, consider the opposite: Living focused on what we perceive is not happening in our midst. That’s a real bummer! Nothing significant was really happening at the Arnott’s church—namely because the senior pastors were running out of steam. So, rather than thinking, “Well, we don’t have to go somewhere for God to do something, since God is everywhere,” they were willing to humble themselves, and out of hunger, exposed themselves to environments and people who were experiencing a powerful move of the Holy Spirit. The rest, as they say, is history. The Toronto Blessing, I believe, is one of the most significant and sustained revivals in modern history. Without a doubt, it is still continuing and in a larger capacity than ever before as the fire of revival has gone global.
Just a side-note: This does not advocate Christians living from meeting to meeting, conference to conference, and event to event. There’s no maturity there, for we become experience dependant, not Scripture and Spirit dependant. At the same time, there is no maturity when we continue to slug along in the tired trenches of daily ministry, feeling drained and burnt out, when, in fact, there are places and people who are experiencing dynamic, authentic spiritual renewal. I don’t understand the mechanics of how this all works, because God is always moving. At the same time, there is a humility in recognizing that we do not know everything there is to know about our Great God, and there is still much to discover about His supernatural activity.
Sometimes, visiting a place where God is moving simply opens our eyes to what is possible in our churches, our cities, our communities. Think about Wales in 1904. Consider Azusa Street back in 1906. People flocked to these spiritual hubs from all over the earth, and as a result, turned the world upside down. It isn’t that God is unwilling to move until we attend some special conference or revival; not at all. The key is our eyes beholding the supernatural, miraculous, renewing works of God and being exposed to the possibility that the same God Who is moving mightily in point A, desires to likewise move in point B. He is no respecter of persons, or places. It’s totally legal to go and “catch the fire” somewhere. The key is not simply catching it, but carrying it.
In conclusion, humility is what takes us to places where God is moving in ways we have never experienced; hunger is what positions us to actually experience the same realities in our lives, our ministries, our communities, and our regions. Humility recognizes that there is more; hunger does something about it. Hunger worships extravagantly. Hunger sprawls out across the pews, crying out for the rain of revival to be released. Hunger across the globe for prayer and impartation. Hunger studies Scripture with prayerful expectation that what God said He is well able and willing to perform.
Humility honestly recognizes that there is more to God than we are presently experiencing. Hunger is what fuels our lifelong quest to encounter and release “the more.”
Larry Sparks is host of Life Supernatural, a weekly radio program that features best-selling authors, emerging filmmakers and key ministry leaders. In addition to serving as the director of curriculum resources for Destiny Image Publishers, Larry is president and founder of Equip Culture Ministries—an organization that equips believers to experience a life of sustained victory through the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. Visit him at lawrencesparks.com or on Twitter at @LarryVSparks.