The Flow and Move of the Holy Spirit
How to Flow with the Spirit
Learning how to flow with the Holy Spirit is important for churches and Christians today. We must understand the ministry of the Holy Spirit toward individual believers and the church.
The primary focus in this article is the move of God in the church. I have other articles on the Holy Spirit in the life of an individual believer.
You may have heard terms like, ‘The Move of the Holy Spirit’ or ‘Flowing with the Spirit’. Here we will study what these mean and how to flow with the Spirit.
The Flowing River
:37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
:38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
:39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
In this passage, Jesus uses terms related to water like thirst, drink and flowing rivers, but He is not just talking about natural water and natural rivers. Water is one of the symbols for the Holy Spirit and verse 39 shows the rivers refer to the Holy Spirit flowing out of the heart of those who believe.
When the Bible explains something, we don’t need to look for a further explanation with our own understanding or we will get confused and into error. This passage leaves no doubt that Jesus is speaking about the Holy Spirit because it plainly states this in verse 39.
The Flow of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit’s ministry is similar to the flow of a river. Just like rivers flow, so the Holy Spirit flows. We can also learn to flow with Him.
Flow is defined as ‘to move freely from one place to another in a steady unbroken stream, unhindered steady movement’
Flow means Movement
A key part of this definition is movement. Rivers move. This movement IS the flow of the river and without that movement, it would not be a river, but a dam, lake or pond. Rivers are not static or stationary pools of water.
By linking the Spirit to a flowing river, Jesus was showing a moving of the Spirit of God.
Stationary Churches with no movement or flow
Unfortunately, the movement in some churches has disappeared and things have become static. People try to keep the church stuck at a particular place and get upset when there is any attempt to move with the Spirit. They become comfortable with the way things are and resist the moving of the Spirit.
To be true to the Bible and stay close to God as individuals and churches, we need the moving of the Spirit active and alive in our churches. Without movement, the church is lifeless and static, resulting in it becoming irrelevant and stuck just like stationary water stagnates.
The Holy Spirit is supposed to be involved in the church today and a healthy church has movement.
No Move of God
Too often, the move of the Holy Spirit has been replaced by man’s agenda. People do things that are just human flesh, not God. They follow man’s plan, man’s ways and man’s ideas.
We need to be hungry for the manifestation of God, hungry for God’s ways and hungry for God’s plan. The church should be the place where God moves, not just where man follows his own ideas and agenda.
God Moving or Man?
Some ministers are afraid of excess and error, so they shut down all movement in the church. By doing so, they quench the genuine move of the Holy Spirit. To stop the false, they also stop the true move of God.
For example, they shut down all prophecy because there were a few false prophecies, or they shut down the flow of healing because a few people didn’t get healed. By doing so, they block God’s movement as well.
Fear of excess cannot cause us to shut down all movement in a church or we will stop God doing what He wants to do too.
The solution is not to shut down all movement, but to learn to tell what is God and what is not. Learn the difference between man’s movement and the genuine moving of the Holy Spirit, so that God can still move.
Teach about the Move of God
Instead of shutting down all movement, teach people about the genuine move of God and how to recognise excess.
Allow movement and teach people to recognise the move of the Holy Spirit, rather than shutting it down out of fear of excess. Teaching helps people mature and mature believers can tell the difference between what is and what is not God.
Many people have no idea how to flow with Him, so need to be taught.
The True Move of God
There is a big difference between what God does and what man does. Those who have seen and experienced the genuine flow of the Spirit of God can tell the difference between man’s move and God’s move.
Often, we decide the direction and expect Him to flow with us. We want the Holy Spirit to move in the direction we lay down, but that is not how it works. He is the river that we must flow with.
Let Him Change the Plan
We get so into ‘our programme’ and routine that the Holy Spirit is limited in what He can do.
I am not saying don’t have a programme, but make sure you have the flexibility to allow Him to change it. If the programme says it’s time to sing the last worship song, then have the announcements, but an anointing to praise comes in, then we have a choice: go with the programme or respond to Him. Flowing with the anointing brings greater blessing than just sticking to the programme.
We see this so little in churches that what I am saying may be completely foreign to some people reading this. We must learn THE WAYS of the Spirit and be flexible to allow Him to change our plan.
Learn the Ways of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit has ways of moving that we need to become sensitive to and learn to flow with. Learn how to flow with Him, to be sensitive to His flow, rather than trying to swim against the currents and go upstream. You can go with Him or against Him.
This takes spiritual sensitivity to recognise where He is flowing and respond to that. In order to do so, we need a relationship and regular fellowship with Him.
Sensitive to the Spirit
Flowing with the Holy Spirit requires spiritual sensitivity which is developed through ongoing personal relationship with God. Many churches and ministers are not sensitive to His flow, which is why they just follow their own plan.
Spending regular consistent time in God’s presence through prayer and time in His Word will prepare you to be more sensitive to flow with Him. If we never spend time in the Word and in prayer, we will never learn to flow with Him.
Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is developed by being in His presence a lot. People who spend little time in prayer and the Word of God end up being naturally minded and less spiritually sensitive. They read a teaching like this and always wonder ‘how do I get that?’
One way to become sensitive is to spend time praying in tongues.
Just like there are different rivers, with different strengths and flows, so there is diversity with the Holy Spirit. Different streams can come together to make up a river. There are healing anointings, as well as moves of peace, joy, praise and prayer. The move of the Spirit can involve quietness or it can be loud and excited. There is not just one way that God moves.
Often people only associate one thing with God’s movement. If things are not ‘wild and exciting’, they conclude God is not doing anything. With this mentality, we will miss out in God’s diversity and all He has for us.
Flowing in the Right Direction
It’s one thing to know that God is present (‘the anointing is here’), it’s another thing to know what He is doing.
Is the anointing present to heal, laugh, shout, sing, kneel or sit quietly?
Respond to Him
When God starts to move, we must respond.
What do I mean by respond? Well, it is simple: if the Spirit moves in worship, and we all just sit there and look at each other, we are not responding. Responding means going with what He is doing. If there is an anointing to praise, then respond with joy, shouting and praise.
It is up to each individual to respond. Some people just sit and watch while others respond and enter in. Don’t just spectate, participate.
If we respond, we will enter the flow and move of the Spirit of God that brings tremendous blessing. If we don’t respond, we will miss out.
The Correct Response
If the anointing to pray comes in and we just keep praising, we are going a different direction to ‘the flow’.
When the Holy Spirit moves in peace and intimate worship, responding with joy and shouting is the wrong response.
Learn to tell the difference between the move of the Holy Spirit in peace and that of joy, between a spirit of prayer and a healing anointing, then respond according to what God is doing.
We need to be able to tell what He is doing and flow with that. Going a direction He is not going is like trying to paddle your boat upstream instead of flowing with the direction of the river.
The key is recognising what the Spirit is doing and knowing how to respond. This means learning to understand His flow, developing sensitivity to Him by spending time with Him in prayer and developing close fellowship with Him.
Only Knowing One Response
Often when people are around the anointing and people do something like jump or shout, which is right for that time, they think that’s the way to respond every time, so for years to come they shout every time the anointing is present.
They have only learned ONE way to respond to Him, so no matter what they sense, they respond that one way. As a result, they only learn that one flow of the Spirit and miss out on the rest.
Many people only know one response to the Holy Spirit and they have only learned to yield that one way. So, every time they sense Him, they respond that one way.
Some people just want to laugh or cry every time the anointing and presence of God comes in. They miss His moving in peace and intimacy.
Some have learned to shout, so if the Spirit moves in laughter, they shout; if He moves in soberness, they shout; if He moves in healing or in revelation, they shout.
On the other hand, some have learned to sit in silence, very still and quiet. There is definitely a place for this, but if the Holy Spirit is moving in joy and loud praise, that is NOT the time for it.
Those who always sit silently when the Holy Spirit moves are missing it just as much as those who shout all the time. Often, one group wants to criticise the other, either for being too loud or too quiet. The key is understanding that both responses have a place and we must all learn both responses at the right time.
When God told the people to march around Jericho, there was a time He commanded them to be quiet and a time to shout. If they had stood in silence when God said to shout, they would have missed God. If they had shouted when God said be quiet, they would have missed it.
The Spirit moves in diverse ways and there are many ways to respond to Him, depending on what He is doing.
Some people get uncomfortable with quietness, so every time things get quiet they want to jump up and give a tongue or start crying loudly. The modern church knows very little about sitting quietly in His presence.
Many times we have sensed the anointing – we knew God was moving, but we went a wrong direction with it and things He intended to happen didn’t happen because we were ignorant about how to respond to Him and to His flow
Blocking the Flow
Flow is defined as ‘to move freely from one place to another in a steady unbroken stream, unhindered steady movement’
Notice ‘unbroken and unhindered’. This means nothing standing in the way or stopping the river’s flow.
Obstacles in a river’s path block the flow. Anything that is fixed and stationary (not moving or flowing with the river) is an obstacle to it. The river either gets stopped if the obstacle is large enough or has to go around the blockage.
An obstacle is something that is not moving with the river.
When enough obstacles are laid down, it totally blocks the flow of the river, causing a dam. When a dam is built, the flow stops.
Not Responding Blocks The Spirit
Not responding when God moves is ‘not moving or flowing’ and is the same as a rock that stands in the path of a river’s flow to block it. People have stood in the way of the flow of the Holy Spirit by not responding to Him.
Some people think they are being ‘very spiritual’ by not responding to the Holy Spirit, but are actually being very carnal and blocking His movement. This is why He often has to go around them or gets stopped altogether.
No matter what the Holy Spirit tries to do, they just want to sit inert and inactive, not moving.
They claim that they are just ‘enjoying His presence’. There is a time for that, and when it is the time, then doing it is right. However, if the Holy Spirit is moving in joy and praise, then that is NOT the time to be quiet and inert, claiming you are just enjoying His presence.
If the Holy Spirit is moving in joy and the entire church just wants to sit in silence, then they are going against His flow and blocking it. When the Holy Spirit moves in joyful praise, jubilation and shouting, and you only respond to His presence by sitting quietly and in peace, then you are missing His flow. In that instance, you are making yourself a rock’ that is blocking the flow of the river.
When people want to just sit and observe or sit back and not participate they become an obstacle to His flow. In some places, there are so many people not flowing and creating obstacles that the entire flow gets shut down.
Unbelief Blocks Him
:1 Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him.
:2 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands!
:3 “Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” And they were offended at Him.
:4 But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”
:5 Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.
:6 And He marvelled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.
Jesus did all His works by the anointing of the Spirit (Acts 10:38). Here, He could not do any mighty works. In other words, He was prevented or blocked from doing them. This means the anointing, the Holy Spirit could not do what He wanted to do.
Why? Because the people were blocking Him. There are some important lessons to learn from this passage about unbelief, but that is for another teaching. For now, notice that the Holy Spirit’s move was blocked by the people’s response of unbelief.
Following your head or your heart
Some want a formula to flowing with Him that they can understand with their head. However, the flow of the Holy Spirit comes out of the heart, not the head. It is not an intellectual thing.
John 7:38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
We can either just follow our heads and human reasoning, and do things the way we think they should be done, or we can be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, tap into HIS flow and find there is a presence of God; an Anointing upon what we do.
Learn the ways of the Spirit
You have to begin to move forward In Him in your personal life in order to begin to step into these flows of the Spirit in a corporate setting.
Spending time developing your relationship with God through prayer and the Word will increase your sensitivity to your heart, instead of always looking to your head.
I encourage you to take what you have learned about the Holy Spirit in this article and to learn all there is about Him.