The short answer is that if there is no hunger, there is no healing.
Last Sunday the Holy Spirit came powerfully on someone during the ministry time. There was clear visible evidence – this person was hot to touch, drenched in sweat and experienced “power moving up and down the body”. It was evident to me that the Holy Spirit was confronting evil, oppressing spirits and bringing freedom. There was no fanfare.
The Holy Spirit just came upon this person in the sense that no-one was praying for her when the encounter began. But I noticed her body language: during the sermon she was leaning forward on her seat as if inwardly leaning toward Jesus. After I instructed us to pray for each other I noticed her deep in prayer – it was evident she was hungry for God. She really needed Him. When I placed my hand on her shoulder she reached out her hands with palms open to receive. The Holy Spirit was coming upon her because she was hungry for God, and God let me tag along with Him using my spiritual gifts. Let me say any of us can tag along in this way.
In Isaiah 6:9-10 Israel is judged for failing to be responsive to God when he spoke to them – their judgement was spiritual dullness or the inability to hear God’s voice. The following is an excerpt from my book Barefoot Revolution:
The real impact of the judgment: because of the Israelites’ dullness they would not be able to “turn and be healed” (Isa. 6:10b). They were not spiritually aware of their own need or hungry enough to reorient their lives towards God for mercy. The gateway to the kingdom, being poor in spirit (Matt. 5:3), would remain shut.
Jesus frequently used questions or brief conversations with people seeking healing to ascertain their sense of their own need and hunger for God (See for example Mark 10:46–52, 2:5–11, 5:30–34, 7:27–29, and 9:21–24). If sick people don’t recognize how Jesus can help them, even Jesus can’t heal them. This was the case in his hometown of Nazareth, because familiarity interfered with the locals’ ability to see in Jesus the help they needed (Mark 6:1–6).
King David sounds ravenous for God when he wrote, As the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for you, O God (Ps. 42:1). Just as physical hunger sparks our resolve to find food to eat, spiritual hunger matters because it makes us intentional about finding God—it gives us the required drive. King Solomon saw that to know God required a no-compromise, all-out, energetic, relentless, God-or-bust pursuit as if searching for hidden treasure (see Prov. 2:1–5). Jesus taught that entering the kingdom requires a sell-all-to-get-it attitude because we see him as a priceless pearl (see Matt. 13:44-46). Otherwise can we realistically expect God to be very real or very big or very close? Some people are so lazy [or dull] they won’t even lift a finger to feed themselves (Prov. 19:24, my comment added). This was the spiritual plight of Israel in Isaiah’s time. Think about whether or not you are hungry for God and why this is the case.
It’s painful to watch when people lack hunger for life. It’s painful for God, too. Many things can bring dryness to life, but the real danger looms when the sacred homing device turning us Godward is impaired. It is to stop believing that change, freedom, joy, and love are possible because we can’t hear God anymore, and our appetite for him wanes. We can have a job, wealth, good health, a marriage, faith, a ministry, or a dream, but each of these can be lifeless like a dry field if we are too dull to turn to our Father and cry out for springs of living water.