In my view many of us consider seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit only when we require help. We forget that the Holy Spirit longs to prompt us towards acts of ministry in our everyday lives as well. These acts can range from as simple as encouraging someone new in church to as daunting as praying for a stranger on the bus, yet they are never without divine purpose and strategy.
In my experience, the Holy Spirit prompts in many different ways. While His methods and techniques are varied and often challenging, they are always immeasurably beneficial to both the ones being led (us) and the ones being touched (through us). In those being touched, eyes are opened, hearts are encouraged, and lives are ultimately changed. In those being led, faith is sharpened, acts of God are witnessed, and an ear to hear His voice is strengthened.
At the very least, submission to the promptings of the Holy Spirit always affords a good story.
Below are just a few of my personal adventures with the Holy Spirit, along with a few road-tips I've picked up along the way. I pray these stories would awe you, entertain you, and above all inspire you to pray for opportunities of your own. I guarantee that that prayer will be answered.
HOLY SPIRIT ADVENTURES 101:
1. It usually happens when you least expect it
I was in the city with some friends after church one Wednesday evening when we decided to go treasure hunting. Not treasure hunting in the traditional sense, but instead a ministry 'game' in which you pray and asking the Holy Spirit for pictures or clues to direct you to people who need a reminder that God loves them. These people are the treasures, and the Holy Spirit helps us find them, speak life into them, and pray for them.
After praying for direction at a cafÃ© and spending a few minutes listening for the Holy Spirit, I felt I had four clues to look for: a blue jumper, green eyes, roughly cut red hair with a fringe, and a gold watch.
We set off to wander the streets of Sydney and find our treasures. One by one, my friends found the treasures matching their descriptions, but as the night drew to a close I still hadn't found mine. Thinking I hadn't heard God speak after all and feeling discouraged, I went home.
The next morning on the bus to work, having completely forgotten about the previous nights activities, I looked up to see her: bright Rihanna-red hair with a choppy fringe, a royal blue jumper, delicate gold watch, and striking green eyes. She matched the Holy Spirit's description exactly. Full of excitement that I had found my treasure and relief that I had indeed heard God correctly, I approached her, introduced myself, and proceeded to tell her about Jesus.
The lesson here is one of timing: God's timing, not ours. I would have loved to have found my treasure the night before in the city, but that wasn't when God needed me to find her. He can (and usually does) prompt us when we least expect it. It is then up to us: do we have the faith to respond?
2. Sometimes it may seem fruitless – have faith, it never is
This story is brief, but I believe it teaches an important lesson. I was riding the bus when a young woman sat down next to me. Immediately I felt that familiar leap in my spirit, and thought to ask her if she knew the Lord Jesus Christ. This is often how it works. Rarely (if ever) does the Holy Spirit communicate audibly.
It can be really difficult to follow Jesus in these moments, especially when your flesh is fighting you every step of the way. Nobody wants to be that weird, overly-spiritual person, but when we don't understand why we must stand on the promise that His ways are higher (Isaiah 55 verse 9).
Instead of diving straight in with a "Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ?" I dipped my toe in the water by complimenting her bag and hoping the comment might strike up a conversation. It didn't. After the first curt "thanks", I tried again by asking her where she was headed. Again, a one- line answer, "the city".
At this point, I already felt like I'd been punched in the face, but mustered up all my confidence to finally ask, "Do you have a relationship with Jesus? Because He really loves you and I believe that He is pursuing you right now. I'm a Christian, and I would love to pray with you." Again, she rejected me and as soon as the bus cleared up she changed seats.
Was it easy to be rejected three times on the bus by a total stranger? No. Could I in that moment see the fruit of my obedience? Absolutely not. But I believe that somewhere down the line in her life, God will use that conversation to draw her closer to Him. Just because we don't see the fruit right away, doesn't mean the seed wasn't successfully planted.
3. Warning: may cause miracles
This is where things get serious, and I have to warn you: do not pray for opportunities to see God move if you are not up for experiencing the miraculous. But if you are, be prepared to have your level of faith and expectation taken to new heights as God allows you to participate in His wonderful works.
I was walking home at around 10 pm from a small meeting. As I walked through a rather isolated part of the way home, I passed by a young man limping. His limp was so bad that I thought he might have been born disabled. I snuck a glance at him, and was feeling stirred by the Holy Spirit. The thought entered my mind that I should pray for the healing of his ankle.
Immediately the doubts began in my mind... "That's absolutely crazy, you cannot do that" "It's never going to work, don't waste your time" "It's unsafe for you to talk to him! You're a young woman and you're alone. What if something were to happen" "I bet that limp is just a fake so that when you let your guard down, he will have an easy target to attack you"
After contemplating this for a few seconds but knowing that I would regret it long and hard if I did not follow through, during a momentary surge of fearlessness I approached him. "Hi, My name is Tina, this might sound absolutely insane, but..." Turns out his name was Malcolm and he had just sprained his ankle that day.
I went on to kneel down, lay hands on, and pray for his ankle as he sat down at the bus stop we happened to be passing by. Twenty seconds into my prayer I knew I could stop; his ankle had been healed. I hadn't seen any proof of this yet, he was still sitting down at the bus stop, but something inside me told me that it had been accomplished and no further prayer was necessary.
We stood up and I asked him how he was feeling. He took a few steps tentatively, and then exclaimed, "WOW, I Can't believe this. It's COMPLETELY better!" We continued walked together along the road and I could tell his limp was gone. We were both so excited and amazed, laughing in joy and praising the Lord together.
As we walked further and he was able to keep my pace without a limp, he continued to comment over and over again how much better his ankle felt. His voice was filled with such genuine wonder and veneration that even the worst of sceptics couldn't doubt that his healing had been both dramatic and miraculous.
Tina Hakimi is an Arizona-raised, Sydney-based writer pursuing her doctorate at UNSW.
Tina Hakimi previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/tina-hakimi.html