Healing Line

Healing Line

How Does God Use You?

by Francis MacNutt
Jul/Aug/Sep 2012

And there was silence in heaven for about half an hour... — Rev. 8:1b

I hope this article sets some of you free from needless guilt. It all begins with the fact that, by temperament, we are all either expansive and talkative by nature — or reflective and quiet. We are all either extroverted (turned outward) or introverted (turned inward). The prevailing culture in the U.S. tends to emphasize that being extroverted is more desirable, making introverts feel as if they don't belong — as if something is wrong with them. But each of the temperaments has a wonderful gift element connected to it. Extroverts are the kind of people who love parties, conversations and phone calls. They usually have many friends. When a party is over at 11 pm, they feel disappointed at having to leave. Introverts, on the other hand, usually do well to have a few close friends and are looking for a way to leave the party early, so they can go home and read a book before going to bed. Extroverts have their batteries charged by being surrounded with people, while introverts feel their energy drain away when they are with people too long.

But what does this have to do with healing?

A lot.

One of our teachings is that we are not to slavishly imitate others in their style of praying. Find out how God uses you. An ancient principle of Christian spirituality is that, "Grace builds on nature." For instance, if God has given you a compassionate personality and you are the kind of person who makes a good counselor, God is also likely to give you a gift of praying of inner healing. Because of these God–given differences, we also have different gifts of prayer and develop different styles of prayer.

People who are outgoing tend to pray in expressive ways. For many reasons charismatic–Pentecostal churches and prayer groups tend to be outgoing, characterized by loud expressions of joy and praise. These praises are often shouts of "Glory," and their prayers are directed to God. They thank God for what He has done, and they picture themselves in heaven as in those scenes in the Book of Revelation where the saints are praising God for hours on end. "And they chanted night and day, never taking a break…" (Rev. 4:8, The Message translation) By its very nature, the experience of being filled with the Spirit and praying in tongues lifts us on the wings of joy and thanksgiving.

But an introvert's preferred attitude toward prayer is not so much concentrated on what is said to God but is directed to listening to what God might be saying to us. For this we need to be quiet and turn inward, the very opposite of speaking and shouting our praises to God. For instance, in the midst of loud praise, the quiet person, instead of being inspired, might very well be silently thinking, "Be quiet — I can't pray." You can see this in the church after communion. Extroverts want to sing; introverts want to kneel down, shut their eyes and find God within themselves.

In an ideal world, each one of us would have a balance in our prayer lives, sometimes being outgoing, and at other times, turning inward to listen to God. But since we tend to lean to one side or the other, the best thing we can do is to find a church or prayer group that is attuned to the Spirit, but whose style of prayer also suits us.

The sad thing — and the reason I write this article — is that because being introverted in the U.S. is generally seen as less than ideal, an introverted person may feel that they don't belong in the great movement we see today where so many people are experiencing the Baptism of the Spirit and the wonderful gifts that God is so generously pouring out. Outgoing Christians talk about the "Frozen Chosen," and truly, some may be frozen and barely alive (spiritually), but I think this has more to do with the state of an individual's heart, regardless of personality. Sometimes it is just that some are simply quiet and put off by what seems to be shallow and noisy. Often these are the very ones who have been praying the most over the years and are really the deepest of us all.

All I am suggesting is that we need to be sensitive to the differences, and celebrate how we as individual Christians pray best. If we were less judgmental, and incorporated all of these styles somehow in our groups, we would all be blessed by what God is saying. Different prayer styles suit personality differences. Both are authentic and valuable.

As a remarkable example of the quiet gift of prayer, I remember visiting Agnes Sanford in her home towards the end of her life, and she quietly told me how she prayed by herself every morning. She then told me how that very morning Jesus had appeared and taken her to visit heaven. She described what the streets were like — how the walls were made of something like a brilliant, solid–colored light. She had not a trace of pride — she just shared quietly. It was a truly awesome, unforgettable moment in my life.

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Jul/Aug/Sep 2012