What are Pentecostal practices? Let me begin by painting a picture of the kind of life I suspect we want as Pentecostals. As you read these scriptural portraits, try to imagine yourself walking in them in your day-to-day life.
- Praying in the Spirit. (Romans 8:14-27)
- Walking in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16-25)
- Filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:15-20).
- Empowered by the Spirit. (Acts 4:23-33)
But how do we get there? We all know that life in the Spirit begins at salvation, and power for witness is given when we are baptized in the Spirit, but aside from these “events,” what does a distinctly Pentecostal process of sanctification look like? What habits and practices take us deeper into life in the Spirit, from operating on our own strength, to living under the gentle yoke and light burden of Jesus? I hope this article serves as a starting point for conversation about pursuing Pentecostal renewal.
Renewing the Practice of Daily Devotions
When I began following Jesus at age 12, I began reading through the Bible every year, and setting aside time in the day to be with Jesus. Aside from my “devotional time,” whenever I was alone, on my paper route, on my walk to school, in the car, my thought life would drift to God and I would “reopen” the conversation. Why was this Pentecostal practice “natural” to me?
I think it was natural because it was modelled and intentionally passed on. I was discipled by my mother and grandmother. Every Saturday or Sunday morning when I would wake up and come downstairs, I would see Mom reading her Bible with her journal open, usually with tears in her eyes as she whispered prayers in the Spirit. Similarly, whenever I was at Nan’s, I would watch her constantly in prayer, singing, listening. She was the most joyful, spontaneous person I had ever met. As a youngster, I thought she might have been a bit eccentric. Later in life, I realized that she was “Keeping company with Jesus…living freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:30, MSG)
Heart Questions: Do you have a regular, life-giving quiet time in the Spirit and Word daily? When is the last time you prayed in the Spirit and felt strengthened and affirmed as a son or daughter of God? How often during the day do your thoughts turn to God and lead to abiding in Him?
Suggestions: In my conversation with disciples who have recently experienced renewal in this practice, a few common threads have come up.
This can be as simple as sitting with a notebook while you read, prayerfully recording thoughts from the Spirit and your spirit. It can be as disciplined as using a method like SOAP (Study, Observe, Apply, Pray). It can be as creative as bringing scrapbooking supplies, colored leads, and designing a work of art on the pages of your Bible to reflect the words, thoughts, and emotions brought up as you read. Pastor Joy Baker has been an incredible resource for me for learning this.
Dwelling in the Word in Community
Many Pentecostals are renewing the ancient practice of Lectio Divina, or Dwelling in the Word. The practice usually involves: Gathering with other disciples, hearing the Word read aloud, taking time in silence to listen to the Holy Spirit and jot words, phrases, or verses from the text that have been illuminated for you, then sharing insights with the group and listening deeply to each other to see what God might be saying collectively.
The art of keeping a prayer list is nothing new for most Pentecostal disciples. Intercession is in our bones. I have spoken to many disciples who are pursuing renewal of the practice in very creative ways. Some are making “maps” of their neighbourhood and praying for their neighbours by name. Some are setting up reminders certain times of the day (phones are GREAT for this), and praying specific prayers at specific times to keep our hearts in sync with the Spirit. I spoke to one disciple who prays through the parts of the Lord’s prayer every day at 1PM, and John 3:16 at 3:16 in the afternoon.
Bible Reading Guides
Technology has given us a wonderful gift in the YouVersion App. There are so many great plans both for enriching your study of the scriptures and providing accountability, discussion, and energy for your devotional life. The Bible Project App, Nicky Gumbel’s Bible in 1 Year, and How to Study the Bible have been very popular plans in 2020-2022.
How are you pursuing renewal/revival in the Pentecostal practices of daily devotions in 2022?