Reverence: Key to God’s Presence and Power By Kenneth E. Hagin
When I first looked at the luminous dial of the clock in the early morning hours of Thursday, July 16, 1987, it read three o’clock. When I looked at the clock after the visitation, it was seven minutes before six o’clock.
In the intervening hours, I’d been caught away in the Spirit. In Revelation 1:10, it says that John was “… in the Spirit on the Lord’s day …” and that he saw Jesus.
We know very little about being in the Spirit to tell the real truth about the matter. We get anointed with the Spirit to pray or to preach. But that is not what John meant when he said he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day. When you’re in the Spirit—and I’ve been there several times—you don’t really know right at the moment that you’re even in the natural. Because you are in the Spirit—in the spirit realm!
I was in the Spirit on the morning of July 16, and I saw Jesus. I saw Him just as plainly as I could see you if you stood before me. I was caught up with Him to a place above the Tulsa Convention Center, and we were looking down upon what I knew was our upcoming Campmeeting which would begin Monday, July 20.
Although we were above the building, I could see into the auditorium.
I saw one of the services unfold before us. Jesus narrated as I looked on. I saw all of us in the auditorium as we were taking part in the service. As I looked down upon us we were all clapping like we do in Charismatic circles.
Jesus said something that astounded me. Understand what I’m going to say so you don’t get the wrong impression about it. He said to me, “Clapping is neither praise nor worship.” Jesus said that to me. He went on to say, “To clap is to applaud.”
I’d never heard anyone say that. And even though I had been troubled at times when the congregation clapped so much during an inspired utterance that the anointing lifted and we missed some things the Spirit of God wanted to get over to us, these words of Jesus almost shocked me.
But as He continued to speak, I began to understand why I had been troubled. Best of all, I began to see what could be done to cooperate with Him so the fullness of His blessing and the depth of the move of the Spirit could come upon the Church.
A Help or a Hindrance?
In order to gain a better understanding of the place clapping should have in our services, first of all we need to understand what clapping is. Jesus said clapping is applause. He said it is neither praise nor worship. Well, if it isn’t praise and it isn’t worship, where does it fit in at all in our services?
I got a little illustration some time after Campmeeting that helped my understanding of clapping and I want to share it with you.
When a little boy receives a birthday present from his daddy, he may clap his hands and jump up and down. But he is not praising or worshipping his daddy —he is expressing his own excitement and rejoicing over what he has just received. In other words, his clapping is only for his own benefit. It’s an outworking of his own emotions.
In our services, we may clap sometimes just because we’re excited or we’re rejoicing, but that’s not praising or worshipping God.
In the visitation, Jesus discussed clapping with me from the Scriptures. He said, “There is not one scripture in the New Testament about clapping. The Bible says in Psalm 47:1: ‘O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.’ Clapping in this verse denoted an attitude of victory; it was not a form of praise. That is the only time clapping before the Lord is mentioned, and that is in the Old Testament. There are also some occurrences in the Old Testament where people clapped their hands for other reasons, but it had no connection with the worship of God. Then there are also scriptures about the waves and the floods clapping their hands, but you understand, that is figurative language.
“There is not one single scripture,” Jesus said to me, “in the New Covenant about anyone clapping their hands.”
We do, however, have New Testament scripture for lifting our hands in worship to the Lord. In fact, the only instruction we have in the New Testament about what we are to do with our hands, is to lift them up! You remember, Paul—or as I like to say—the Holy Spirit through Paul, said, “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Tim. 2:8).
We’ve all heard it said that praise is the highest form of prayer. You see, prayer is not what many people think it is. Prayer isn’t “Gimme, gimme, gimme.” Among other things, prayer is fellowshipping with God. One type of prayer is praise and worship. Therefore, we would do no injustice to the text to read First Timothy 2:8 like this: I will therefore that men… [praise] every where, lifting up holy hands….”
You see, the world claps or applauds, but you do not see them lifting their hands to praise or celebrate. No, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is to lift up holy hands to praise the Lord!
“The world claps,” Jesus said to me. “Saints praise.”
Then He illustrated it something like this: You can walk by dark dives (night clubs, beer joints, etc.) and look inside at what is going on. Those inside may be watching a show with nude dancers, and you will see them clapping their hands. They may be watching a sports event on a screen, and you will see them clapping their hands. Or you can go to a political rally, and when the politician says something everyone likes, they will clap their hands. But in none of these places do you see the crowd lift their hands.
Now that doesn’t mean clapping is wrong in itself. But we do need to distinguish between clapping which is a natural expression of this world, and the raising of our hands which is a scriptural expression of the realm to which we as believers belong. We also need to identify when to clap and when to lift our hands in praise. Clapping at the wrong time can cause the anointing to lift from a service.
For example, many times when the Spirit of God is moving in a service through tongues and interpretation or prophecy, everyone will start clapping right in the middle of the interpretation or the prophecy. People get excited and clap, but their clapping prevents everyone present from hearing what the Holy Spirit wanted to say. Such clapping couldn’t be done in the Spirit, for if the tongue and interpretation or the prophecy is by the unction of the Spirit, then the Holy Spirit is interrupting Himself. If the Holy Spirit is saying something to the church and no one can hear it, then we’re either wasting our time by allowing the manifestation of the Spirit or we’re wasting our time by clapping.
Is prophecy right, or is it not? Is the Holy Spirit saying something, or is He not? Would the Holy Spirit interrupt Himself? Would people be moved upon by the Holy Spirit to clap when the Holy Spirit is saying something? No, we’ve just gotten “clap happy” in Charismatic circles, and it grieves the Holy Spirit.
As a minister, I’ve been in the position of being the one used by God to speak forth in prophecy or interpretation of tongues—when right in the middle of the prophecy, everyone will start clapping. Unless I am very careful, I can lose the anointing because the clapping distracts me, making it difficult to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying.
And then there have been times when the anointing left in spite of my efforts to stay in the flow of the Spirit, because the Holy Spirit was grieved. Clapping in the midst of the Spirit’s manifestation displays irreverence for Him.