I was at a stage in my walk with the Lord that I felt I had developed a very good relationship with Him. I felt I heard His voice when He spoke to me, I felt I had many of the fruits of the spirit and I felt I had a spirit of discernment that was truly from God. But my spirituality was in question.
I had visited my sister-in-law’s church and had talked to the pastor about speaking in tongues. My sister-in-law was sure that speaking in tongues were the only way to tell if a person was a spirit-filled Christian. Her pastor agreed. He asked my wife Mauri and me if we spoke in tongues, and we both replied we did not. He then told us to start repeating a word over and over again, and then God would give us our prayer language. I was not totally familiar with this method of teaching because psycho-babble did not seem scriptural to me. In fact, to chant one word over and over again until you started speaking in a strange language sounded like some kind of demonic chant. I did not want any part of it at all. I told my sister-in-law I did not agree with her pastor, and they gave me a book, which referenced seventeen scriptures that supposedly supported their belief. I reviewed the book, and all of the scriptures appeared to be taken out of context. It was definitely not the right method of teaching and this little book sure did not convince me otherwise. However, it had not been a totally wasted day in church.
I was raised a Baptist and the Baptist church has very good teaching and is very orderly. Even though the teaching very rarely got out of the Old Testament, the services were very organized. When we sang hymns in church, there was order and respect for the songs we sang. Every Sunday, we would sing our three songs, hymnals in hand, and we knew these were the songs we were suppose to sing, because the bulletin said so. And these hymnals belonged in church. There was even a place on the back of the pew where you put these hymnals, so you knew these were the songbooks that should be in church, because they even had their own spot reserved in church. So I was in for a big surprise when we sat in folding chairs in this church’s auditorium. This church did not even have hymnals. They had a big screen and a projector they used to shine the songs on the screen. The music was real pretty, but there were people with their hands raised up in the air, (you sure can’t do that with hymnals in your hand,) and some people were jumping up and down and dancing. It was very different than this Baptist boy was used to.
After we got home from church that afternoon, I talked to God about what I had just experienced in church. We did not talk about speaking in tongues we talked about the music. I told the Lord I had not felt bad during the praise and worship service, but it was different. I told the Lord that some people were jumping up and down, dancing and had their hands risen up in the air. It was just different.
Then God spoke to me as plain as day. He said, “Craig, what are you going to do when I come back?” I said, “Well Lord, I am going to be ecstatic. I am going to be filled with joy beyond belief. I am going to be rejoicing and singing praises and I am going to be happier than I have ever been before. I’m going to be jumping up and down, I’m going to be praising Your Holy Name, I’m going to be dancing with joy and I am going to have my hands lifted up to You shouting Hosanna.” And God stopped me and said, “Craig, why are you going to wait to then?” I was a little slow, but I caught on pretty fast. That was the first time I lifted my hands to the Lord. It is hard to explain what happened in my spirit. It was kind of like I was totally surrendering myself to God. I felt great. I loved surrendering myself to God. It felt like I was worshiping more fully. Maybe I hadn’t been as smart as I had thought.
During this period of time, I had frequently been invited to a church in Austin, Texas that was a nondenominational church. I started going to this church during my death year after my children had been kidnapped and taken to Germany. The first time I went, I really enjoyed the music and had lifted my hands to the Lord while singing, and my spirit soared. The pastor of this church stood up after the singing and said good morning to the congregation and asked us, “Do you know what?” We had replied, 400 in unison, “No, what?” Then he lifted his hands up to God and said, “I love the Lord!” The glory of the Lord surrounded him. He told us that morning that he had changed his sermon at three o’clock yesterday afternoon because God had wanted him to preach to one person in the congregation. He said he didn’t know who it was, but everyone would be blessed by the message. I was totally blessed as he told of Moses being selected by God to perform a mighty mission for God’s Kingdom, how Moses had felt unworthy, how he had gone through the forty years of testing and how he had fulfilled his destiny in God. This pastor blessed me beyond words in the months that followed. God would open my heart to understanding concerning a particular scripture during the week, and the pastor would preach about it that Sunday. That pastor never knew my name, but our spirits were so finely in tune together. I loved this pastor, and he helped to confirm my walk with God was progressing forever forward.
When we moved to Killeen, the hardest part of the move was in leaving this church. We were so excited when we started going to a new church that had just started in Killeen. And I knew that we were doing exactly what God wanted us to do. But one day I was speaking to the head elder in the church while he was in the bookstore, and he said that a person was not filled with the Holy Spirit unless they spoke in tongues. Now I knew I was filled with the Holy Spirit, but I did not speak in tongues. So I decided to petition the Lord about this. I read a book I had in the store that interpreted scripture along the same lines that I did. I realized that this elder and my sister-in-law’s pastor viewed the gift of speaking in tongues and the gift of a prayer language as the same thing. The Bible says that speaking in tongues in church was okay, but it should be orderly and no more than two or three people at a time; one to speak, one to interpret. A prayer language is an intimate language between the spirit within us, and God. Many Charismatic churches think it is speaking in tongues while they encourage an individual to pray in their prayer language in church. I don’t know if all the babbling that occurs in these “Spirit Filled Churches” is truly from God. I believe many are deceived into believing for a closer walk with the Lord based on their tongues spirituality, and fail when they don’t have the relationship they want. However, if this was a gift the Lord wanted to give me, I wanted to receive it.
That Sunday night I sat in the living room after everyone had gone to bed, and prayed asking God for a prayer language. After praying in my own words, I took a step of faith and audibly said O, and the prayer language just flowed. I prayed for seven hours that night on my knees before God and I have never had, before or after, a prayer experience that comes close to this experience. Ever time the prayer would change, a ticker tape would pass in front of my eyes telling me what we were praying for, and the prayer language would change utilizing different words and utterances. It was totally awesome. But then, the Holy Spirit said we were going to pray for Jesus on the Cross. As I prayed, the grief welled up from deep within me. It started as a knot of pain in my lower stomach until it felt like my entire inner being was cramping. The cramping continued until I was rolled up into a ball. The grief I felt was unfathomable. I felt a hurting within me that was beyond anything I had ever experienced. And all the time I was praying in a language my flesh did not understand. However, when we finished praying this prayer, I knew my prayer had given strength to Jesus on the Cross. The next day I meditated on this prayer in particular. This did not make sense to me at all. How could my prayer today have strengthened Jesus on the Cross two thousand years ago? It just did not make any sense.
As I was praying it came to me. I know that God knows the beginning and the end. The way God views time is totally different than the way we humans view time. We view time as a progression of minutes, hours, days, months, years, centuries, etc. as we would read a history book. We look at time, as a person would read a book. Time is a sequence of events that occur one after another. If we could be so bold, time would be written in an orderly fashion with day one, day two, etc., being contained in massive volumes of books of time. However, God views time differently. God sees the beginning and the end and everything in between. God views time the way we view a picture. When we look at a beautiful painting, we don’t see where the painter started and finished, we see the entire project exhibited before us. I believe this is the way God views time. He sees it, exhibited before Him. I know He heard my prayer for Jesus, and I know He responded to it. The significance of this can become overly deep, so I won’t get into the whys or why not this is applicable information. But our prayers are heard.
Oh well, total understanding may come some day. I thank You Lord for seeing me as a finished product washed in the Blood of Jesus. Thank You Jesus for enduring the pain and suffering for me. The meaningless trials I go through are nothing compared to the agony You went through. Thank You for loving me and Father God, Lord Jesus. I love You Father, I love You Jesus, and I love You Holy Spirit. I lift up my hands and praise You. Bless You Lord.