When Elijah was about to be taken up to heaven, he asks his acolyte Elisha, “What can I do for you?”
And Elisha, with simple and ambitious faith, asks “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” (2 Kings 2:9).
And so he does.
For the asking, so to say. For the asking took faith, which pleases God.
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This story has sanctified ambition in charismatic circles. People ask successful Christian leaders, Heidi Baker, say, or John Arnott, to pray that they receive a double portion of their anointing (not realising that Elisha’s anointing was received in the context of discipleship: living with, watching, imitating). My daughter, Zoe, recently gave me Consumed by Love, by Oxfordshire native, Duncan Smith who describes how he desperately coveted “a double portion” of the anointing of Reinhard Bonnke (who generously prayed that he would receive it!).
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What is the anointing? R. T. Kendall describes it, “the anointing is when our gift functions easily. It comes with ease. It seems natural. No working it up is needed. If one has to work it up, one has probably gone outside one’s anointing.
I experience the anointing when blog posts flow easily, and are written quickly almost as if dictated. When I open up a chapter of scripture, and “see” enough in it for three blog posts, and assume that everyone else sees the same riches, but then realise as I lead a Bible study on the topic, that this is not the case.
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And this prayer to receive a double portion of other people’s anointing….?
If the prayer is frivolous, born out of a desire to be more famous, or receive more attention and adulation, God might not answer it—perhaps to protect his sheep from someone with such seriously flawed motives for wanting a platform.
But if you ask for a double portion of a mentor’s anointing with the innocent-heartedness of the child who wants to be famous, or you want fame so as to be a blessing, or as a means to doing your work in the world—well…
Jesus was playful, and encourages a playful spirit in the Christian life. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14.14 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:13.
So perhaps it is not ridiculous to ask for a double portion of the spirit of Christian writers and bloggers I admire.
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Bill Johnson is one of my favourite living Christian speaker and writer. He is sensible, reasonable, left-brained–and filled with faith. He opens my eyes to the realities of the spiritual realm, and the power of prayer and makes me excited about them. We just have to read the Gospels–and Jesus’s reiterated statement that all things are possible for them who believe–to realise that, because of our unbelief, we can remain children, spiritually, playing in the sand, while the mighty ocean roars around us
When I read Bill’s many books or hear him speak, I yearn for more of God. I yearn to know God as he does. I yearn for the spiritual experience he has had.
Apparently, I am not alone in being impressed.
I heard Bill say that people frequently come up to him and ask him to pray that they receive “a double portion of his anointing.”
Which seems an awfully cheeky thing to ask someone to pray for—essentially, “Please pray that I become twice as famous and successful as you are!!”
And Bill laughs and says, “Yes, God might give you a double portion of my anointing, but what you can never have is my secret history with the Lord.”
Ah, a secret history with the Lord of Hosts, the most democratic of gifts, open to everyone, and more important than any anointing, for without it, we would not be able to bear the weight of the gifts God gives us!
My secret history with God—it sweetens my life, it fills it with hope, it offers me guidance, it gives me strength to endure: both reverses, and perhaps even an anointing!!
Anointing, which makes our work quick and easy, is a gift that’s fine to pray for! But great “anointings” are given to the few. A secret history with the Lord, however, is open to each of us, and that is a gift we have the responsibility (which will eventually become a joy) to cultivate.