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HOW TO RETURN TO JESUS - Part 1
In 1998, I was radically saved. I came out of my lifestyle of addiction, drugs, and prison. I had not grown up around God and church. I went to the only thing in my city, which was a Charismatic gathering. I got filled with the Holy Ghost and got some good Bible faith. These folks were like Catholics that have met Jesus and have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. They would hold a Monday night Mass and call it, “For the Gifts of The Spirit.” It was the only thing in my little community of 5,000 people where you could go and experience the gifts of the Spirit. So, I went there for six months.
I was listening to Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagan, and all my faith guys. My pastor was this famous prophetic, end-time, victorious theology Bible teacher that hung out with Frank DeMazio and all these leaders out of the “Latter Rain” movement.
I didn’t have anybody that I would call supernatural or anybody that was modeling intimacy like I was experiencing when I watched YouTube videos about Kathryn Kuhlman and how she knew the Holy Spirit. I wanted to have presence like that. It wasn’t even the crowds and miracles—I just thought, I’m going to know Jesus. And in the end, this unlearned and untrained Todd Bentley didn’t matter because, “He’s been with Jesus.” So that’s when I decided I was going to sell out everything and be hungry for God. I wasn’t even saved six months, and I was praying in tongues about four hours a day, just talking to the Holy Spirit. That's not for boasting—let's go back and do what I taught you to do in the beginning. That's how I was first introduced to Jesus right out of the gate, coming out of addiction and drugs. I got filled with the Holy Spirit and hung out with the full gospel businessmen.
After being saved for about four years, I’m like the radical. And my pastor would say, “you should probably tone it down as far as being on fire and trying to do works for God.” I be given fifteen minutes to preach, and it turned into three hours, but that was how I grew up. I thought that was what everybody did. I thought everybody spent time with the Holy Spirit like Benny Hinn. I read Good Morning Holy Spirit and I thought this is what everybody does. And because that’s what Kathryn Kuhlman did, I’m also going to do that! And I just did!
And so by the time I was saved, I was so hungry for God I had read the whole Bible like ten times. I would spend twelve hours reading my Bible, and so I was being taught by the Holy Spirit. It was January 1994, and it was an awesome time of revival for America because right after 1994 was 1995 in Pensacola, Florida. It was the season of outpouring and revival in Toronto and America—there was a move of God. It's hard to believe that we’ve been nearly twenty years without any major move. We had what I call a contraction and a stadium outpouring in Lakeland, Florida. It was a miracle revival, but still a sustained move. It's been so many years that we are overdue, and that is why we are talking about getting ready for Revival Harvest America.
I read this little book that somebody gave me by an apostle of faith and healing, John G. Lake. My journey into this secret place started with this little book, and it impacted me so much because John G. Lake talked about how we need to have grace just to sustain our own ability in seeking Him—that we are not striving. And he said quicken me that I may call upon Your name! And so I started to think about what if I asked the Holy Spirit to quicken me so I could call on the name of Jesus with a hunger like never before? And I thought, what if I started just believing God could give me the gift of spiritual hunger—the grace to be so desperate for Him that nothing else matters?
And so, I started praying for the gift of hunger and it fell on me like a mantel—it was a grace, a burden of the Lord. It was very unusual because as hungry for God as I was, now I couldn't stop. From my waking breath to my sleeping breath, I had to seek God. The Scriptures were alive to me. “Draw near unto Me and I will draw near unto you” (see James 4:8). I was drawing near unto God with all my strength and all my thoughts. And yet I still wanted to draw nearer because You're not close enough to me. And the religious spirit kicked in and said, Behold I am always with you brother, walk by faith, not by sight. Believe you have My presence, you are never separated. “Yes, but I'm hungry for manifest presence, not universal presence.”
I want to experience God. I want to encounter God. I want to feel Jesus. I've got enough faith and maturity to know I can walk by faith and not by sight, but if you really have faith, it should manifest sight. So, I'm going to encounter Jesus. If He is the living God, then I'm going to experience the living God. This was my mindset. “And God said, if you seek Me and search for Me with all your heart, then you will find Me” (see Jeremiah 29:13). I had to wonder if I'm really a God chaser. Am I really passionately pursing His presence like A.W. Tozer? In Psalm 24, it talks of a generation that would seek God the way that Jacob did. How did Jacob seek God? Do you know what the Psalm 24 glory generation is? It lifts off the gates so that the King of Glory may come in. He's the Lord of Hosts and the Lord of the Armies that fights all your battles because the glory is breaking through during your warfare, and all you must do is ascend the holy hills and stand in His holy court. Who are the ones that will stand in His court and open the door for the worship, the glory generation of Psalm 24, the generation called Jacob that seek God's face the way that Jacob did? How did Jacob seek God? “I will not let You go until You bless me” (see Genesis 32:26).
This was Todd Bentley in 1998. I will not let you go until you bless me, and God's like, I've already blessed you. I could hear my pastor "you’re already blessed. Leave room for others that need fire. I don't know that you need to be a Jesus freak." I really want to know Him. I feel like I can really draw closer and He said He would draw closer to me if I would seek Him and search for Him with all of my heart. I said, “God, can I have the gift of hunger?” Then something fell on me and for fourteen mornings, I couldn't stop seeking God.
My wife said to me back then, “what is wrong with you?” I said, “I can't pay bills, I can't think, I just want to be in the prayer room.” I had an injury at work not even six months into my job, and they had to put me on compensation. I asked my wife if I could seek the Lord during that season. He's worth it! If I can give eight hours to the world, I should be able to give eight hours at the feet of Jesus. I said, “would you let me pray at least five days a week, eight hours a day?” She said, “ok.”
It started in March 1998, but after fourteen days, I was in the living room one morning, and my little two-bedroom apartment filled up with the presence of God and it’s that presence we all feel in worship. Maybe it was just a little heavier than normal, and I thought, Wow there's a lot of presence going on in here for just me and no music and God is special today. Like it was one of those moments where everything’s tingling in the atmosphere. I'm sitting there going, "what's happening?" My eyes were closed because it's just so heavy—the beauty of the Lord, the beauty of His holiness. I'm so overwhelmed that I can't move and then a supernatural sign happened. I don't know how or where it all came from. A wind came that was so mighty, I gasped. And this wind came into my lungs and literally took my breath out. Everything vibrated. I swallowed a mighty wind. And when the mighty wind exited, I was mute. Really mute. And I thought of John when he was mute. That is the only time in the Bible where anybody went mute, and now I'm sitting here in the fear of the Lord. You don't want to think anything; you don't want to move. I was afraid to open my eyes because it was like all of heaven was getting closer and the room was getting smaller. I was being suffocated by this overwhelming manifestation, yet I knew it was God, but now it felt like it wasn't just all over the room. It felt like it was stronger like pillar, a presence or something coming out of the kitchen. Then literally a glory liquid honey cloud came into my living room. Now this was after the presence was already there, and I said, “what's this?” He said the presence of My glory in the cloud is a greater manifestation than the stillness of My presence that you know.
How many of you realize in Exodus 40 it says the cloud overshadowed the tabernacle, the presence filled the house? The Lord told me the cloud brings a unique presence. The presence that manifests only when the cloud appears is a different type of glory. Remember when it appeared for Jesus? “And out of the cloud the Father said, "This is my Son" (see Luke 9:35). He was transformed and even His face and clothes became as white as lightning because He was under the cloud. That's a Shekinah cloud. It happened to Moses, and they asked him to put a veil on because he came out from being with the cloud and his face was so bright it was like the noonday sun.
So there's biblical examples you can read yourself. The cloud didn't always manifest. It's a unique manifestation. Peter's shadow was because he was overshadowed. Peter was different than anybody else that had the ministry of healing. There was a physical manifestation.
I thought, Lord, there's a glory liquid honey cloud. I described it as that because it felt like warm oil and honey, and as it came towards where I was sitting in the living room, I was still aware of the presence of God, but it was like this concentrated presence. I fell out of my chair and on my face. I forgot time. I'm laughing. I'm weeping. I don't know what's happening to me, but it seemed as if I came under this cloud and the presence of the Lord was so near—the fire and the holiness—it could've been for hours. I jumped up off the floor. And I said, “Lord, what was that?” He said, “that was a visitation.” I didn't pray for that because I didn't even know that was possible. Can I just ask you what do you do when you have an experience that doesn't quite line up with your theology? It would have been great if I could have known that this was something you expect. This wasn't even something that my pastor preached or talked about.
Now that hunger thing was gone, but the next morning I woke up with the appetite to experience the same presence that I did when the cloud came. I couldn't wait. It was like Christmas morning! I get to be in the prayer room. This is consecutive days of the beginning of the three-month, ninety-day season of visitations that transformed my life and launched my ministry. The supernatural, the healing, the harvest. Everything we are doing for God today is because of what I'm sharing with you right now.
I'm telling you people, this is more than a message. It took me twenty years to write this secret place message. There's a study guide, there's a workbook. Why did it take me twenty years? Because the Lord said until you've lived it, you can't preach it. I wrote books on healing, deliverance, the prophetic, and God said, “you can write about the secret place. That's your number one message.”
I had a secret place conference every year for fifteen years. We used to have 4,000 people attend in Canada, in Abbotsford, outside of Vancouver. I was in my 20s and I was hosting meetings of 2,000 to 4,000 people. You know what our number one conference was? Intimacy. There was no other ministry in Canada that was drawing 4,000 people. And they said, “tell us what you're doing.” I said, “we are just going to seek the presence of the Lord for four days, so we can do the secret place.” And I bring in speakers that talk about the secret place and we just worship. Sometimes we don't even preach, and it's the best conference, better than the supernatural one, better than the healing conference, better than any conference because we meet the presence first.
I did that for twenty years. God honors me in the secret place. All my breakthroughs are because I go back to the secret place. I'm not talking about not having a prayer life, because I think real prayer doesn't begin until you run out of things to pray about.
This is how supernatural things started to happen. Open heavens and other supernatural encounters led to healing and it led to harvest. All of this led to what I’ve done in twenty years of ministry. We are working in seventy-three countries, and I’ve been to some of these countries twenty times. I love the nations. We've had 2.5 million decisions for Christ. Now, that's a lot, but I’m believing for 100 million. That means I have a lot of work to do. I wanted to say that because sometimes we get stuck in the outward works or we want to talk about miracles. So, I'm bringing you all the way back to first works, fruits, and love where I was raw and hungry.
By Todd Bentley
REVIVAL HARVEST AMERICA FAMILIES
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