This Holy Spirit anointing is a means of power, vitality, and fruitfulness in the preacher’s life and ministry. No doubt there are times in every preacher’s life when he is overwhelmed with fatigue, discouragement, and a sense of powerlessness. The anointing of the Spirit can be a source of strength and power spiritually, physically, and emotionally. We read in 1 Kings 18 of Obadiah, a servant of wicked King Ahab, who nonetheless was a godly man who preserved the lives of one hundred young prophets of God from a purging by wicked Queen Jezebel. While on a search for water, due to the drought God brought through Elijah’s prayers, Obadiah ran into Elijah. Elijah told him to have Ahab meet him at Mount Carmel for a showdown with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah. As we know, the prophets of Baal called all day for their god to consume the sacrifice but nothing happened. Elijah prayed down fire from heaven which utterly burned up the offering. The Holy Spirit gave Elijah the spiritual power he needed to fight the battle against Baal and Asherah. Later, as clouds form in the distance, Ahab and Elijah both watch as the clouds opened, pouring rain on the parched land. Ahab rode in his chariot from Mount Carmel to Jezreel in the fruitful plain between Jerusalem and the Sea of Galilee, while Elijah outran Ahab and his chariot, a distance of some thirty miles, farther than a marathon. How did Elijah have that strength? The Spirit empowered him! And later in 1 Kings 19, after hearing that Jezebel is still keen on having Elijah killed, he flees first to Beersheba and eventually to the Sinai Peninsula, a distance of well over two hundred miles. Elijah wanted to die, but the Spirit ministered to him, not by the earthquake, wind, or fire; but by a gentle voice (1 Kings
19:11-14). God strengthened Elijah emotionally.
If you are a pastor, then you know the plague of discouragement, the temptation to quit and find another line of work. This discouragement comes in many forms. You know you battle indwelling sin daily and sometimes your sin seems to get the best of you. You are alarmed and fearful of the thoughts that enter your mind, of the words which privately come out of your mouth. And then there is the discouragement of trouble in your marriage. You know what it is to live with disappointment with your wife. Perhaps you have grown cold in your devotion to her, secretly longing for another woman. And then your children can be a means of discouragement, even when they are relatively young. Perhaps you have seen sinful patterns in them that look very similar to what you see in yourself, and you know they learned these from you! And what pastor has not heard discouraging words from church officers? Even if the words are meant as ‘constructive criticism’ they, nonetheless, sting all the same. And sooner or later almost every pastor experiences church division, people leaving in droves, blaming you for their departure. ‘You cannot preach . . . you are not feeding me with your sermons . . . I get more out of the preacher at the church down the street . . . my children need a better youth ministry . . .’
My dear friends, we must have the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon our ministries, not merely in our preaching, but in everything – our teaching, counselling, leading, administrating, discipling, and our evangelizing. We need supernatural enabling in every spiritual dimension of ministry. The work of regeneration and sanctification is simply impossible. You are no match for the secularization of our culture, the immense problems of people in your community. And we need supernatural power in the physical dimension of our lives. Many times, especially after arriving in another country, eight or nine time zones away, I have been called upon to preach and was totally exhausted; but I have also seen God supernaturally empower me physically to deliver a message I know was not given in my own strength. We need the Spirit’s anointing physically. Whitefield knew this first hand. He often would enter a new town on horseback, ravaged with fever, having already preached two or three times that same day, physically and emotionally exhausted. But as he began to preach the Spirit came upon him and he caught fire, and was used mightily of God. And we need his anointing emotionally. Ministry is not for the faint of heart and discouragement can threaten to undo you, but the Spirit can meet you powerfully and lift you up with great joy, boldness, and resolve to stay on task.
How do you receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit? Two things are clear. First, you must have faith. ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God’ (Heb. 11:6). ‘Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened to you’ (Matt. 7:7). ‘If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much will the Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him’ (Luke 11:13). ‘Until now you have asked for nothing in My name. Ask and you shall receive that your joy may be made full’ (John 16:24). Simply believe what God says. But second, you must earnestly seek Christ. David says, ‘O God, Thou art my God. I shall seek Thee earnestly. My soul thirsts for Thee. My flesh yearns for Thee, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen Thee in the sanctuary, to see Thy power and Thy glory’ (Psa. 63:1-2). There is no substitute for earnestly seeking God like a thirsty man does water. Go into the sanctuary of God daily, expectantly, looking for and receiving a word from the living God!
- Al Baker