If I had one word to describe the recent Capital Region Prayer Gathering it would be this - passion! Indeed it was one of the most passionate prayer gatherings I have ever experienced. Our worship leader was doing all that he could to keep in step with the Spirit - which is a good thing.
But what was it? I believe it is necessary for us to understand at least in a measure what undergirds our experiences. Of course - at least on this side of the veil - there will always be something of the ways of the Lord that are a mystery, yet it is the function of the church to bring revelation to that which is a mystery (Ephesians 3:10).
I am convinced we stepped into a thin place by His compulsion.
What is a thin place? In Celtic Christianity it is place where heaven and earth come especially close together which results in an awesomeness of the Presence and Power of God. It can be a geographical location, a particular season of time - or it can be the convergence of the purpose of God with the people of God. It may have some or all of these characteristics.
An author has written: “A truly thin place is any environment that invited transformation in us, helping us as believers in Jesus to think and see and understand as He does. Any place that creates a space and an atmosphere that inspires us to be honest before God and to listen to the deep murmurings of His Spirit within us is thin.”1
We had shared concerning thin places at our recent PrayWV Summit and then Pastor Jay Morgan introduced this concept at this regional gathering.
The Great Kanawha Valley of West Virginia is just such a thin place - for at one time the river burned with fire as the result of the rich deposits of salt, oil and gas in its banks.
In the spiritual we believe this speaks to us of God’s passionate purifying zeal for His people and as we attract His white hot gaze by consecration and supplication we too will be set ablaze with our passionate desire for Him and the fulfillment of His purpose. In the Hebrew Scriptures God is often referred to as "El Kanah" (early spelling of Kanawha - Kanawagh or Kanhawa) or "I am a jealous God." The following scripture takes the meaning of this word one step further, Exodus 34:14 "...for you must not worship any other god, because the Lord, whose name is Impassioned, is an impassioned God" (Tanakh, The Holy Scriptures).2 Also, Deuteronomy 4:24 "For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, an impassioned God.”
W.E. Vine says, "While the word is used in our language in an evil sense, it has a somewhat different meaning, especially in the Old Testament. It is often used in connection with the marriage relation, and, in this respect, the relation between Jehovah and Israel. Just as jealousy in husband or wife is the forceful assertion of an exclusive right, so God asserts His claim, and vindicates it, on those who are His sole possession." “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously3 longs for the Spirit He has caused to dwell in us?” James 4:5
There is a community in the Kanawha Valley called Burning Springs so named because the salt water, gas and oil came forth from the ground together and could be ignited. It was said that anything tossed into the flame was hungrily consumed and the fire was very difficult to extinguish. (Hebrews 12:29* ...for our God is a consuming fire.")
A release of this passion is what we were allowed to enter into by our Sovereign Lord - Adonai Elohim. It was a prophetic expression of that which He desires to do in our community and throughout our state.
And this is what I scribbled on a piece of paper that evening - The prophetic (ekklesia) stands in the sanctuary to minister to the Lord - the apostolic (diaspora) walks the streets to minister to the community. All under the watchful eye of the King.
1 Balzer, Tracy; Thin Places; Leafwood Publications, Abilene, TX, 2007, p. 29
2 You must not bow down to another god, because the LORD is passionate: the LORD's name means "a passionate God." CEB
3 The jealousy of God is a reference to His passion for His elect.