You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over. Psalms 23:5
Prior to November 1982 I was trying to make my way in a world that was simply too big for me. Having been raised in an ancient denomination, I still held to the Christian version of truth but was really just a lonely, ill-equipped and thoroughly lost lamb desperately trying to be a lion. Fortunately, through my wife’s relentless witnessing and prayer I finally sought God one night, all alone, kneeling on a wooden pallet in the basement of an upstate New York print shop. I was a twenty six year old working man; a husband, father, and had been raised as one of seven siblings with loving parents—in other words I was always surrounded by lots of people. But I was completely alone inside myself, trapped with my own distorted version of self and reality.
My prayer that night was simple—it was something like this: “God… Jesus… will you please baptize me in the Holy Spirit and give me the gift of tongues?” I prayed this way because as a sideline spectator of the charismatic movement for several years prior, I had heard my wife and others pray in tongues and felt it was a sign of God’s acceptance. What happened in that next instant is the single most defining event in my life. Well, that is not exactly true. The first time, as soon as the words of my simple prayer were out of my mouth I began to feel a tingling sensation on top of my head. Instinctively, out of fear I jumped up in knee-jerk reaction and bolted to the other side of the room. Nothing had ever happened before when I prayed!
Within a minute or two I went back to try it again, this time determined to see it through. Same pallet, same position, same prayer and right away—BOOM—a warm, wonderful, tingling presence like invisible liquid ecstasy, poured over my head and swept down my body animating every cell and filling my heart with God’s acceptance, belonging and love. ‘You anoint my head with oil.’ At the same time from down in my diaphragm I began to feel a physical sensation pushing up and I knew it must be the spiritual tongues. I just spontaneously yielded myself as this building energy erupted out of my mouth and I began to pray in a language I did not know. I jumped around in childlike joy as wave after wave of sheer ecstasy swept over me and the new God-language gushed uncontrollably like a Bronx fire hydrant on a summer’s day. ‘My cup runs over.’
Like Saul on the road to Damascus or like the disciples gathered in the upper room in Acts 2, the event I just described radically changed the trajectory of my life forever. ‘You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.’ The Good Shepherd anoints the head of each beloved sheep with the oil of the Holy Spirit, causing our hearts to overflow and transcend the limitations of physical expression with trans-dimensional gifts. This anointing also permanently marks and separates His beloved personal sheep like a rancher brands cattle, only this ‘branding’ marks our souls.
The ongoing opportunity for His anointed sheep is to continue to let our cups overflow with spiritual prayer that others may drink of this new wine also. Consider the following verses:
- Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26
- For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays… 1 Corinthians 14:14
- I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all… 1 Corinthians 14:18
- What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. 1 Corinthians 14:15
- …praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit… Ephesians 6:18
In my humble estimation, now twenty seven years since first being anointed by the Good Shepherd, the single most important discipline for a Spirit-filled Christian to cultivate is praying in the Spirit for at least one hour each day. It will revolutionize your life. It will deepen you, charge your spiritual battery, impart spiritual gifts, and open your soul for prophetic vision downloading blueprints directly from God. It will increase creativity, separate light from darkness and give love to the soul. It is grace in motion! Praying in the Spirit is a vital practice for the Good Shepherd’s sheep.