Theme: Anointing – necessary or nice to have?
Acts 8:17 ‘Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.’
My wife, Pat, and I became disciples of the Lord Jesus at roughly the same time. Some lovely people from the Assemblies of God took us in hand. First they instructed us in the need for water baptism and we complied. Next, the pastor invited us to attend a teaching on the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’. It was at his house and it turned out that we were the only uninitiated people there. After an extended Bible study, the pastor asked us if we would like to receive the laying on of hands for the baptism in the Spirit. “Yes please” we responded and immediately the whole crowd present surrounded the couch upon which we sat and ‘laid hands’ on us. Ten or so pairs of hands on your head can be pretty heavy you know but we tried to stay focused. Much praying, much instruction to “Just open your mouth and drink it in”, much praying loudly in tongues by those ministering and… nothing!
When we got home that night Pat and I looked at each other tearfully. “Doesn’t God love us?” we asked. “Aren’t we good enough?” “Why didn’t we receive?” When I look back at it now, I think the main problem was in the formula sort of approach the folk took that night. Do this, that, and the other in the prescribed order and the result is guaranteed. We were quite overwhelmed, not by the Holy Spirit, but by the process and the weight of ministers around us. But, God doesn’t treat us as units in a prescribed process, but as individual and dearly loved children. In due course we did receive spiritual anointing, but not on that particular occasion.
Physical contact, laying on of hands, is a biblically valid means of imparting and receiving (See also Acts 19:6). However, there are other ways by which we can receive anointing. For instance Acts 4:31 records how the anointing came as a response to group prayer, and Acts 10:44 as a response to the preaching of the Word.
We should not attempt to ‘plug in’ or to prescribe the way in which God ministers, but we should ask so that we can receive. When last did you ask?