During the ministry / response time after my message last Sunday, a gentleman fell to the floor as I prayed for him, and he laid in the aisle for a few minutes. What was that all about?
It is my experience when praying for people that sometimes they fall under the power of the Holy Spirit. Different words are used for this: ‘Falling in the Spirit,’ ‘Slain in the Spirit*’ or ‘Resting in the Spirit’
It is a physical reaction to a spiritual reality.
To help us understand it, it’s worth thinking about how our bodies respond in certain situations:
- We might go weak at the knees when we hear news that is highly exciting or very traumatic
- A fan might swoon in the presence of a celebrity they admire and have anticipated meeting.
It’s hardly surprising that we might have a similar physical reaction when we the presence of the living God engulfs us.
There are a number of examples of this in the Bible.
- The prophets sometimes fell as the Spirit came upon them: Ezekiel 1:28, Daniel 10:9, Revelation 1:17.
- Priests in the Old Testament were overwhelmed by the presence of God: 2 Chronicles 5:14
- The disciples fell on their faces when Jesus was transfigured: Matthew 17:6
- Some people being healed and delivered fell under God’s power: Mark 9:26, 27
- There are other references which may reflect the same phenomena: Acts 26:14, 1 Corinthians 14:25, John 18:6
We read about it throughout church history too. John Wesley in particular wrote in one of his journals of a meeting where ….
One and then another sunk to the earth. They drooped on every side as thunder struck.
There are records of it too in the Welsh revivals of 1762 and 1905. In a number of Christian streams today it is a normal occurrence as people are encouraged to embrace the presence of God.
A Changed Life
In my experience, because God is a gentleman, such experiences although strange to the onlooker are full of God’s peace.
We must remember that falling is just a physical response and not necessary for, or proof of, a genuine work of God. If God is a at work there will be fruit and that fruit will be demonstrated in a changed life. That’s what we look for and long for, not a momentary experience. It is easy for such manifestations to become an end in themselves. As someone put it to me recently (in jest):
I grew up in a church where if you didn’t fall over when you were prayed for it was a sign you were back sliding!
When God meets with people some will fall over; some won’t. Who cares! It’s a changed life we are after.
*By the way the phrase “Being Slain in the Spirit” that some use in this context is quite wrong! You can be slain in the Spirit but that is something altogether different: Acts 5:1-11