Thursday, August 29, 2013

Is Charismatic Renewal for Real? part 13

(Letter to Kerry Zmatick, which continues to drone on and on.)

It seems that there is really no one who can be called the father (or the mother) of modern Pentecostalism. Charles Parham led the Bible College, “Stone’s Folly” where the Pentecostal movement of the 20th century started, but his ministry ended under a cloud. He was suspected of gross immorality and accused of financial irregularity. Rev. William J. Seymour, who took the torch from Parham, was resented by Parham for doing so. Parham and Seymour parted company over theology and different styles of worship. Seymour was never recognized for his pivotal role in the emerging movement, quite probably because of the color of his skin. To look for a founder of the movement is like looking for the founder of a brush fire. There may be one, but after it’s started who really cares?  Just run and hope the wind shifts. The Pentecostalism of the early 20th century was the result of the holiness movements of the 19th century and their dissatisfaction with the dryness of an excessively theological Protestantism. The movement was not about theology. It was about experience. That fact has never stopped anyone from trying to take theological charge of the movement.
Stone's Folly, home of Bethel Bible College

A bit of review: 1901 Stone’s Folly and Charles Parham was where it all started. Then 1905, the Azusa Street Revival and William Seymour is where it really got rolling.  The traditional Protestant denominations thought the whole thing was nuts, and like the pietists before them, the Pentecostals were accused of being too Catholic. After all, Catholics had healing and visions and prophecies. A good Bible believing Protestant had no need of such things. People were thrown out of congregations, threatened and assaulted over the new Pentecost, so.....

In 1914, about 300 Pentecostal “leaders” called a meeting in Hot Springs, Arkansas, to discuss the situation. Having been rejected by American Protestantism, they were moved by the Holy Spirit to form the perfect church, the Assemblies of God. There were some representatives at the gathering of already existing churches that had been Pentecostalized. They heard the Holy Spirit telling them not to form a new church, so they eventually formed the Independent Assemblies of God. There were pressing theological questions to be answered, such as, is one saved if one doesn’t speak in tongues? Theological statements were prepared, disagreed with and voted on, and the movement rolled on trying to define itself theologically. 

Now there are at least twenty-two major Pentecostal denominations in North America with lots more non-denominational churches that make things up as they go along. The former include Church of God of the Original Mountain Assembly and the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church. Personally, I am thinking of starting Fire-Baptized  Mountain Assembly Holiness Church because those are both really cool names.   

The Protestant Pentecostal movement fractured over important questions such as can one go to heaven if one does not speak in tongues or does not dance about with rattlesnakes and drink poison. There are actually churches that believe this. They take Mark 16:18 very seriously:
These signs will accompany those who have believed. In My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues. They will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.
Well, it’s reasonable after all. If you have to speak in tongues to go to heaven, why shouldn’t you also have to dance a fast tango with a cobra? The snake handling wing of the Pentecostal movement was founded in 1910  by George Hensley in the Church of God in Cleveland, Tennessee. (Not Cleveland Ohio. Not enough rattlesnakes.) He soon quit the Church of God, having decided that all denominational churches were evil, and started his own denomination that required snake handling as evidence of salvation. Hensley eventually died from fatal snakebite in 1955. Oh well. Must not have had enough faith. Personally, I would just rather tithe and go to committee meetings as proof of salvation.

True Pentecostalism is not about theology. It is about spirituality and the very human experience of the Holy Spirit. When the whole thing sprouted up in the Catholic Church we didn’t need a new theology to describe it. We had a perfectly good theology after these 2000 years. That didn’t stop people from trying to take theological control of the movement. 

The first thing was to try to figure out how these things fit into the sacramental structure of the Church. (My opinion is that they don’t. They don’t have to.) Much ink was spilled and much high blood pressure medicine taken over the question; “How does the baptism in the Holy Spirit relate to the sacraments of initiation and how is receiving of the Holy Spirit in Baptism related to the receiving of the Holy Spirit in the Baptism in the Holy Spirit after a Life in the Spirit Seminar?”  

A common explanation was that what happened in the Baptism in the Holy Spirit was what was supposed to happen at Confirmation. I would disagree. What is supposed to happen at Confirmation happens at Confirmation, because Confirmation is a sacrament, a covenant that bestows God’s grace. How grace unfolds is worth a lifetime of discovery. All these questions and the shaky answers rest on assumption and definitions, Protestant assumptions and definitions. The sacraments are the outward signs instituted by Christ to give grace. All these visions and healing and prophecies and experiences are not necessarily the grace of the sacraments. They are something else. They are religious experiences. Nothing more, nothing less. The sacraments are covenants made with the Lord. The charisms are favors from the Lord. We have assumed that the Protestants were right about these things. I don’t think they were. That does not make these things any less real or any less important.

The juggernaut of theology rolled on in the Catholic Pentecostal movement unhindered.  Pretty soon we weren’t calling ourselves Pentecostals. We were calling ourselves “Charismatics” to make sure that people knew we were Catholic. The TEACHERS vied with one another to prove that they were thoroughly Catholic. Prophecies were pre-approved and the leadership of the prayer meetings got very picky. In our effort to make sure we were Catholic enough so bishops and priests would still let us use the church building for prayer meetings, we squeezed the life right out of the movement. It seemed somewhere in the 1980's that the Holy Spirit went out for a cup of coffee and some fresh air. Remember, I am just recounting my own experience. Yours might be quite different and your prayer group may just glow and shimmer with spontaneity and joy. My experience wasn’t as pleasant. It involved financial stupidity and worse, manipulated elections and endless arguments over things that had nothing to do with the Lord. On to the horror stories.

I remember a series of heated meetings as to whether or not we should sell coffee mugs with the Renewal logo on them at the book table at a conference. That board, on which I served briefly, eventually had the bishop appoint them to indefinite terms of office when it looked like they were going to lose an election. 

Then there was the treasurer of the regional Icelandic steering committee who was arrested for smuggling a gun across the border. He insisted that he was completely unaware of the contents of a package that he was carrying for a friend. He well may have been clueless. He was unaware of a great many things. The crazy-making part is not the gun-running. It is that while he spent months in the slammer in a third world country, he refused to step down as treasurer and would not let anyone else have the books. The president of the steering committee at the time liked to remind people that the pope was elected for life. Shouldn’t the president of the Renewal be elected for life? 

It took me three years of endless meetings, elections and squabbles to remove a board that had used the funds very creatively. After I had convinced them to leave quietly, a new board was elected and its new treasurer, who could barely add, refused to let anyone else see the books. Apparently, not getting to see the books was a long standing tradition. That was about the time I got a phone call from a prominent person in the “leadership” asking for monetary help with her taxes. I said “WHAT!?!?!” She said the old board use to help her out..... 

Oy!  Sorry to rattle on, but I am having a lot of fun getting this out of my system. Let me continue. Another good one. The leadership made decisions about who got to stay at posh hotels free of charge during conventions, and who went on missionary journeys to tropical locations. Of course, the leadership always got rooms and trips taken care of. Once a leading somebody’s cousin offered to save the Renewal a lot of money by having a cousin  cater the meals during a Charismatic convention. We soon had the opposite of a healing service. People were passing out on all sides and the ambulances pulled out just as the bishop pulled up to give his talk. I watched him like a hawk to make sure that no one offered him a box lunch. The catering cousin quickly went for an extended visit to the old country.

So, my next suggestion: Lose the leadership

“Heaven forefend!” I can hear you say. “How can we have a prayer meeting without the leadership?” Remember, you have already dumped the microphones and the teaching. Haven’t you read the Bible? Leadership in the Kingdom of God should be called “waiter-ship.”
Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. (Luke 22:25,26)   
The one who serves is literally the one who deacons, or the one who waits on tables. In one of the many committee meetings that are so important to the life of the church, there was a very grand fellow, who realized his own importance even better than the people around him. He aspired to the diaconate, because to be a deacon was to be a ranking member of the LEADERSHIP and of course it meant that you would be a first string TEACHER. I pointed out to him that the word deacon meant table waiter, or even busboy. He said that the term waiter was a rather pejorative term in his native language. I pointed out that it was a rather pejorative term in ancient Greek, too. Jesus wasn’t a king in the eyes of the world, he was however a table waiter at times. 

You don’t need leaders and teachers in a real prayer meeting You may need someone who will set up the chairs in the hall, unlock and re-lock the doors, make the coffee and set out the cookies. Oh, and to make sure that there is toilet paper in the bathroom and that it’s clean. That’s Christian leadership.  Even the pope makes his own bed these days. I have been personally served breakfast by three archbishops. One of them was actually a pretty good cook. He is a great archbishop.

Next week: How can we possibly do without a leadership to tell us how to feel when we are praying?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Is Charistmatic Renewal for real? part 12

(Letter to Kerry Zmatick continued, like you’re surprised.)

I like prayer meetings. I really do. Despite my recent comments I think prayer meetings are a good thing. It’s just that most prayer meetings aren’t prayer meetings. They have more talking than praying. 

In the early days of the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement, we were starved for teaching. Remember? This was 1968. Catholics had just rediscovered the Bible, some Catholics that is. As a child I had the Bible rammed down my gullet. I could never understand it when I heard Catholics say they didn’t read the Bible in the good old days. All the great authorities I knew from my father to Monsignor O’Brien, the local pastor were always pushing the Bible. 

One of my earliest memories is looking at the pretty pictures in the Bible while sitting on my mother’s lap. We had Bible history, we owned Bibles, I had children’s Bibles bought at the parish bookstore. I still have my mother’s old Bible that she had as a school girl back in the first world war when Henry Ford was a ne’er do well farm boy down the road apiece. (His father thought he would never amount to much. Didn’t do a lick of work, just sat in the barn all day tinkering with motors. I‘m not making that up either.) When we cleaned out Grandma’s attic we found all sorts of Bible study books in German from around the 1880's, and Grandma was as Catholic as a Cathedral gargoyle! We read the Bible. Trust me. Big family dinners usually ended with a Bible, a bottle of wine and a theological argument at the table. I thus can’t figure out why people were hungry for teaching, but they were. 

I got my start in the teaching biz right about then. In about 1970, I wandered into a prayer meeting in the old town section of Frostbite Falls and when they found out I was in the seminary, I was appointed to lead the introductory seminar for those who were first time visitors to the prayer meeting. I was to explain the history, the Biblical nature and the theology of the Pentecostal movement and then field questions. It didn’t matter that I had been coming to the prayer group for only a week and that I knew absolutely nothing about the topic I was supposed to explain. It didn’t matter that I was a recently re-converted college student of questionable sanity and recent sobriety. ( It was the groovy 60's, and I was a part-time hippy.) I had a pulse and was thinking about becoming a Catholic priest. It was all good. 

That was what passed for teaching in the early days of the movement. If you could compose a sentence that contained both nouns and verbs and you mentioned God occasionally, you were golden. When there wasn’t a likely victim to throw to the teaching hungry crowd, there were always plenty of non-Catholics who were willing to come and rustle, er... I mean, feed the sheep. It was rhetorical, theological bedlam. And I was in the thick of it, blathering away about something about which I knew almost nothing. 

We were big on John 14 :25  

“All this I have spoken while still with you, but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”   

We interpreted this to mean that the Holy Spirit would infuse Biblical and theological knowledge. We failed to notice that the text says the Holy Spirit would remind us of what Jesus had said. 

Discipleship precedes teaching. If you haven’t learned anything then there is nothing of which the Holy Spirit can remind you. We appointed ourselves as teachers and ascribed to ourselves what amounted to infallibility. I am sure I have told you about one of great teachers of the Icelandic renewal to which I was the bishop’s representative, a deacon who stood up before all the assembled leaders of the movement and directing his comments at me, and said, “I don’t need a pope or a bishop or a priest to tell me what to say. I have the Holy Spirit.” He also had a sweet deal with the movement’s steering committee that gave him $5,000 for a down payment for his a new car and also funneled thousands a year to the parish where he was employed, guaranteeing his job and his salary. 

There were some really good teachers and there were some  infallible, self appointed  teachers in the renewal who taught things like smokin’, drinkin’ and dancin’ were all mortal sins and that when the saints were raptured into heaven after the three days of darkness and the thousand years tribulation of the seven-headed beast the sinners who smoked, danced and drank would be left behind. And all this was going to happen on February 30th next year because a truck driver in Arkansas had taken a picture that was obviously Jesus walking on the clouds, but we didn’t have to worry because we were saved and once saved, always saved. Oh, and you had to be re-Baptized by immersion because infant Baptism and sprinkling didn’t work. (I may be exaggerating, but not by much. I think I still have a copy of the photo of Jesus walking on the clouds.) 

We were hungry for teaching -- any kind of teaching -- and we would believe just about anything if it was said with enough intensity and phrased in Biblical sounding language. A prayer meeting had to have a teaching. The “leaders” met every week to plan these spontaneous prayer meetings and inevitably the question was asked, “Who is going to give the TEACHING this week?”, or even “Whose turn is it to give the TEACHING this week?”  It never occurred to us that it is nowhere written that a prayer meeting must have a teaching. Of course a prayer meeting had to have a teaching! That’s somewhere in the Bible isn’t it? So we created a whole class of quasi-ordained preachers, many of whom were cretins, some of whom were predators. We would even impose hands on them in blessing, asking for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It looked just like a Congregationalist ordination ceremony. The prayer meetings seem to have less and less prayer and more and more teaching. The teachers were a special group, the superstars of the movement. Exciting dynamic teaching was wonderful. It meant that I could sit in a padded seat and absorb. I could gauge my level of charismatic-ness by the frequency of my goose bumps during a good sermon without actually having to use any of the charisms in the service of others.

An inspiring teacher was revered. His or her tapes and recordings would make the rounds of the groups. People came to meetings with tape recorders and note books, and if a teacher was really good, he would be invited to speak at a..... CONFERENCE! He was then in the big leagues. He would fly to places like Guatemala to give talks, meanwhile people from Guatemala would fly to Frostbite  Falls to give talks. It occurred to me at one point, why don’t the talkers from Guatemala just talk in Guatemala and the Frostbite Falls talkers just talk in Frostbite Falls. It would have saved a lot of money, and I still wonder where all those frequent flyer miles went. The big league teachers were on the road a lot and they weren’t part of a community anymore, really. They didn’t actual go to prayer meetings to pray. They went to give the TALK. And while they were on the road talking about the Christian life, their spouse would occasionally make new friends and sometimes their children would meet interesting new people in jail. It was, as I have already explained, bedlam -- sometimes Bedlam and Breakfast. Prayer groups risked becoming fan clubs as people “piled up teachers to suit their own fancy.” (2 Tim 4:4)

There were a number of things that came together to change the meetings from places of spiritual power to a spectator sport. The hunger for knowledge was genuine, but somehow what we had always been taught wasn’t exciting. People found most of the clergy boring, which in fact we often are. I remember the hushed buzz if a charismatic priest came to a meeting, even if he was boring. I also learned that if you yelled every fifth word for no good reason, waved your arms and turned red people would mistake this for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. (More about the anointing of the Holy Spirit later. It is a very real and wonderful thing and has nothing to do with shouting.)  If you were a priest but weren’t charismatic, well... needless to say, the 99.999% percent of priests who weren’t Charismatic were a bit put off by the distinction. There were not many priests who took the whole Pentecostal thing very seriously and so the Holy Loons and the Sheep Rustling Ministers were happy to take up the Sacred Microphone in their stead. It is a heady thing to be a factory worker by day and then to have a microphone in your hand at night with 500 people hanging on your every word as if it were the voice of God, a heady thing indeed. I suspect that the factory work by day is much more Christ-like than the preaching at night. Let us not forget that Jesus was in the building trades for 18 years, and often tried to escape His fans.  As the Pentecostal movement grew, and morphed into Charismatic Renewal, the big fish in the small ponds became a leadership elite. The power and intimacy of Pentecost faded. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit risked becoming a sort of entertainment.

I would suggest, that if you want to have real prayer meeting, dump the teaching. If you want to have teaching, have a teaching seminar. Don’t confuse the two. Teachers must be tested. “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3:1) Anyone can pray, and “the Lord dwells in the praises of His people” (Psalm 22:3) not in the teaching of the leaders. Teaching is a very important thing, but it is not prayer. The apostles spent nine days in prayer; “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” (Acts 1:19)

Admittedly, they did pick a replacement for Judas, but even that was done by means of prayer. There is no mention that they did Bible Study for nine days. After the Holy Spirit fell on Pentecost, Peter delivered one of the great Bible studies of history, but it was the result of, not the cause of Pentecost. So, having dumped the microphone, I would suggest that you dump the teachings. 

When you pray, pray. When you study, study, albeit prayerfully. There are lots of competent teachers out there now who take the charisms seriously. There is now and always has been plenty of good teaching in the Catholic Church. You don’t need to find 20-year-old recently converted reprobates like me to guide you in the use of the Lord’s favors.

When I came home from my first year of college I told my parents all about this new Pentecost, I told them that you could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and that God healed the sick and that the Bible was God’s word and prophesy was real. They were mystified. They had always tried to teach me those things. That’s why they had crammed the Bible down my throat ever since Henry Ford left the farm. I realized they were right and I stayed a Catholic. I am awfully glad that I did.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Is Charismatic Renewal for Real? part 11

Letter to Kerry Zmatick

Friends, I am sorry that this is so long and frankly, so uninteresting, but I think that the importance of Charismatic Renewal, for good and for ill, is little understood. The effects are everywhere.
  • The revolution in Catholic media is a very direct outgrowth of Charismatic Renewal. 
  •  Mother Angelica? A contemplative nun who was dragged out of her convent by Charismatic Renewal, who later parted company with the “movement” because of what she perceived as its excesses. She revolutionized Catholic radio and television; 
  • World Youth Day with its dancing bishops? I have no doubt that it is an outgrowth of the Charismatic movement’s conferences and youth rallies. 
  • That irritating fellow next to you in church who, at the Our Father, insists on holding hands with you, though you haven’t even been properly introduced and then thrusts up his hands and yours in a kind of victory wave at “for thine is the kingdom....”? Charismatic Renewal again. 
Whether you like it or don’t, the Charismatic Renewal is a fact a huge fact. The other day, I was apologizing to a faithful reader for this endless tirade. He said, “Well it’s true, a lot of people don’t understand the Charismatic Renewal.” That is not why I am writing all this. The big problem is that Charismatics don’t understand the Charismatic Renewal.  I will continue by quoting the Scriptures.
Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the LORD is about to pass by. Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD  was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1Kings 11:19 and following)
In my last disquisition, it might have surprised you to hear that stillness is at the heart of true Pentecostalism, and not noise. Certainly things can get noisy, but that is the very human response to the perceived presence of the Lord.  

I was bemoaning these things with another old Pentecostal friend and he reminded me of an experience that we both have had. Sometimes, in a small quiet prayer meeting as I would sit or kneel waiting on the Lord, it would seem that suddenly I was in a very large space, a space that seemed infinite. It would seem so large that I would almost feel dizzy. It was as if the presence in the room was too large for such a small space, and I was transported to another dimension. Pentecost is about expectant waiting, not emotional manipulation. The quiet meetings often produce the most profound experiences. 


The great enemy of Pentecostal spirituality is the microphone. The microphone is, I believe a great danger to Christianity in general. Admittedly I blather at people via microphone just about every day, but that’s because I am talking to people. 

When I first said the old Latin Mass, I was amazed that I didn’t use a microphone except for the sermon. Then it occurred to me. Why should I use a microphone? I was talking to God whose hearing is excellent. 

“But” you might say, “I can’t hear the priest unless he speaks into a microphone.” 
Has it ever occurred to you that it does not matter that you can’t hear or see what’s going on? The Mass is not about you. 

“But I am not getting anything out of it when I can’t hear it. I can’t participate.” 
Remember that if you are Catholic, Mass is a sacrifice in which you come to offer your “prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day,” to God. You may or may not get something out of it, but that is not why you come. 

A Catholic goes to Mass to give, not to get. To say that you don’t get anything out of the sacrifice of the Mass is a bit like a lamb on an altar asking, “What’s in this for me?” or like Christ on His Cross saying, You know, I’m not really getting much out this.”  

To think that you have to get something out of the Mass or that in order for it to be real it must be heard by you, means that you have succumbed to the narcissism of the Protestant Reformation. As I have told you a number of times, Luther put an end to worship when he declared that the Mass was not a sacrifice, but that it existed for the consolation and instruction of the people. What passed for worship was, in Luther’s theory, not directed at God, but at us. 

How, then, can I be consoled and instructed by something I cannot hear or see? My answer would be another question, “So, you are here to be consoled and instructed? Then certainly we will need a microphone because the service is all about you, isn’t it?” 

The sacred microphone is the necessary sacramental for the worship of an audience. The Holy Microphone, not Pentecostalism is the opposite of Catholic worship and the Holy Microphone has done much damage to true Pentecostalism as it is now doing to Catholicism. I wonder if the mega-church phenomenon may not be at its bubble’s bursting point. The bigger and bigger the church, the slicker and slicker the show, the less and less the whole thing resembles Christ and His cross. The mega-church is inconceivable without the microphone and the mega-church seems to be increasingly a kind of self-help movement rather than an expression of Christianity. It is big, it is rich and it is very consoling. And some Catholics think that imitating it is the only way to go. 

In the Christian mystery bigger is not always better. Jesus often seemed to chase people away. He seemed to actually discourage followers by telling them this was going to be tough. As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go”, but Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” (Luke 9:57,58) 

And then there was that outrageous comment about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. That sent them away in droves. 

And what about, “Sell what have, give to the poor and then come and follow me”? 
For Jesus, smaller was sometimes to be preferred. He seemed to favor sacrificial faith over convenience. 

“That’s just not the way to build up a big congregation! Think of how much more he could have done if he’d had a microphone, or maybe one of those big screens up on Calvary so that people knew the words to the songs.” (For the humor impaired: I am being ironic.)  

Jesus and His disciples changed the world without the use of microphones. We are becoming indistinguishable from the world, one microphone at a time.  

I have attended prayer meetings at which there were more microphones in the choir than there were people in the audience, I mean congregation. Part of the original genius of the Azusa Street revival was that there was no obvious leader. No one had the microphone because as yet there was no such thing. No one could electronically overpower the small quiet voice of the Holy Spirit. Rev. Seymour would come into the hall and hide behind two packing crates and people would begin to sing and prophecy, and to speak in strange tongues. The sick would be healed and the poor would have good news preached to them, all without the help of microphones. When a prayer group needs microphones, I believe it has gotten too large. Intimacy and sincerity evaporate and the pond has grown large enough to attract some very big fish, some of whom are interested in taking up a collection.  

The greatest microphonic abuse I have witnessed at prayer meetings is amplified speaking in tongues. This, in my opinion, is idiotic. St. Paul comments on it in his first letter to the wacky Corinthians. It is perhaps salutary to remember that the central texts from which Pentecostalism draws its theology of “spiritual gifts” (so-called) is the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. St. Paul wrote these chapters (1st Cor. 12, 13, 14) because the Corinthians had made a mess of the charismata. 
For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. (1 Cor. 14:2)  
If you are speaking to God, why do you need a microphone?  I have heard “prayer leaders” say, “I want to help the people get excited about the Lord!”  If the Holy Spirit doesn’t attend the meeting, all of your shouting and sweating isn’t going to help anyone “get excited.” It is an exercise of the flesh and not an encounter with God in the Spirit. You end up sounding like the priests of Baal about whom we read in the 1st Book of Kings. 
So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. (1 Kings 18:28)
Lose the microphone and just maybe the Holy Spirit will get a word in edgewise at the prayer meeting.  

Next week: “But if we lose the prayer meeting, how will they hear the teaching?” Teachings the next big enemy of the Charismatic Renewal.