Pentecostal Worship & Spiritual Gifts

by Dell Markey

One of the defining traits of the Pentecostal movement is its spontaneous and exuberant worship, in which believers clap, shout, raise their hands and sometimes dance in worship to God. Pentecostals believe that supernatural gifts spoken of in the New Testament have been restored to the modern-day church. According to Pentecostal teaching, these gifts often -- though not always -- manifest during times of worship. Pentecostals recognize nine spiritual gifts, which are listed in 1 Corinthians 12: 8-10: "To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues." (NIV)

Tongues and Interpretation

Pentecostals believe that the gift of tongues -- speaking in an unknown or heavenly language as the Holy Spirit enables them -- is the initial sign that a believer has been baptized in the Holy Spirit. After Pentecostals have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, they often pray or sing in tongues. Occasionally, a Pentecostal worshiper will speak a message in tongues for others to hear. When this happens, another believer who believes the Holy Spirit has revealed the meaning of the message to him through the gift of interpretation will convey the message to the rest of the congregation.

Healing

Pentecostals believe that divine healing can occur at any time but that worship services promote an atmosphere of faith which helps people receive healing. Pentecostals often ask those who are sick, diseased or injured to come to the altar area to be prayed for during worship services. Pentecostal ministers, and often laypeople, place their hands on the sick person, anoint him with oil and pray that God will heal him.

Prophecy

Prophecy is another spiritual gift exercised in Pentecostal worship. Pentecostals believe that the gift of prophecy involves the Holy Spirit supernaturally giving a message to a believer to share with the congregation, who then speaks the message for others to hear and judge. Pentecostals believe that all prophetic messages may be given by any believer whom the Holy Spirit directs, but that all messages should be judged by mature believers to ensure that they are truly from the Holy Spirit and that they do not contradict the Bible.

Discernment

According to Pentecostal belief and practice, the gift of discernment is given to believers as God wills for the purpose of recognizing whether something is truly from God. The use of this gift in Pentecostal worship is often associated with prophecy, but it is not limited to that. Many Pentecostals describe themselves as "receiving a check in their spirit," or spiritually discerning that something is not quite right, when operating in the gift of discernment.

Words of Knowledge / Wisdom

According to Pentecostal belief, words of wisdom and words of knowledge are two distinct, but related, gifts of the Spirit. They are similar to prophecy, but are more likely to address a specific person or situation. Pentecostals believe that words of knowledge involves the Holy Spirit revealing facts about a person or situation which the gift's recipient had no natural way of knowing. Words of wisdom involves receiving supernatural wisdom to know what to say or do in a given situation.

Faith / Miracles

Pentecostals believe that the gift of faith involves the Holy Spirit enabling a believer to have supernatural faith. In Pentecostal thinking, this is distinct from simply having faith, which they believe every believer has in varying measure. It is often associated with believers facing seemingly impossible situations and receiving the faith to either endure or overcome them. Pentecostals believe the gift of miracles involves God performing the miraculous in a believer's life. While Pentecostals believe these gifts can operate at any time in a believer's life -- as the Holy Spirit enables -- they also believe that worshiping promotes a spiritual atmosphere and mindset, which allows people to be more receptive to gifts of the Holy Spirit.

About the Author

Dell Markey is a full-time journalist. When he isn't writing business spotlights for local community papers, he writes and has owned and operated a small business.

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