Yesterday, I wrote in support of Lloyd-Jones view that the filling with the Holy Spirit as a conscious awareness of God's participation in one's life and that this awareness is filled with knowledge of the grace of God in the Gospel. This heightened sense of assurance comes from a "sensible" encounter with the Holy Spirit which brings revelation and assurance. The old Puritans used this word "sensible" to mean perceived by the senses. Such a vital faith and assurance only comes from prayer and often quite extended prayer.
Many do not know what is meant by the call to extended prayer. Prayer, when our personal experience does not include the availability or even just the emphasis on "conscious contact with God", usually is not seeking to be inspired and know God intimately in prayer. So our prayer times are not necessarily extended. By extended I mean enough time to contemplate deeply a truth of God's word and to converse with God all its applications to one's personal journey. This for me might take about an hour or more. I say this simply to help people get a picture of prayer that can bring boldness, and a boldness that can lead to revival and awakening in a congregation.
I was speaking yesterday to a friend. He jokingly said, "Why don't you become an atheist?" He is an atheist. I said, "You are telling me to believe their is no beach and yet I am still all wet."
What I mean by this is that I have personal experience of God's presence and the reality of God on a regular basis and that Jesus is alive, you cannot convince me to believe contrary to my regular experience. It is like asking a man born in China that China doesn't exist just because you have never been there.
This is how revival works. In Acts 4, the people were being persecuted and their courage was being put to the test. The people and the apostles needed help and assurance to press on. So they prayed for boldness. The Lord shook the building, filled them with the Holy Spirit and they spoke boldly.
They were conscious of the filling and the shaking of the building. It is exactly the confirmation of God's being with them that produced the boldness. But why didn't they just stand on their faith and preach anyway. Well, I imagine if they weren't scared they could of but the reality is they were scared and they wanted more power and boldness because they were up against a foe that was effecting them.
This is the reality of life. In the church, we are up against a foe and we are in need of courage and this courage comes out of the extended time of prayer. The key then is to take the courage of the prayer room and "speak the word of God boldly".
The marriage of the conscious assurance of the filling with the Holy Spirit and the program to go and speak and to actually do the work of an evangelist is the key to true biblical church growth that leads others into a vital relationship with the Lord. No watered down Gospel no stealth Christianity just good old fashion Gospel preaching.