That word… anointing… is tricky.
If you grew up in a charismatic / pentecostal environment, you might associate the anointing with a particular ecstatic experience, or with the practice of anointing the sick with oil and prayer, or perhaps with the preacher delivering a particularly powerful message.
If you grew up Catholic, Orthodox, or in another liturgical tradition, you probably think of the anointing as referring to those individuals set aside for a particular full-time priestly ministry or a particular sacrament or ritual.
And if you grew up Baptist, like me, you don’t say the word anointing because… you don’t want people to think you’re one of “those” Christians (see above).
Regardless of how you grew up or what your experience has been with this concept of the anointing of God, I have some good news for you.
If you have turned from your sin in repentance and put your trust and hope in Jesus Christ alone, then you have the anointing of God on your life whether you knew it or not.
But… that doesn’t mean you’ve learned to experience or enjoy his anointing.
The Apostle Paul wrote,
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
– 1 Corinthians 1:21-22 NIV
Paul indicates that the anointing has to do with the indwelling presence of God’s Holy Spirit, who takes up residence in the life of every believer. But the anointing is more than just having the Holy Spirit. The anointing has to do with what the Holy Spirit does in our lives.
And John wrote,
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth… As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
– 1 John 2:20, 27 NIV
John gives another example of how the anointing of God is more than simply the presence of the Holy Spirit. The anointing of God includes the teaching ministry of the Spirit. His anointing helps us to distinguish truth from error.
I’ve come to believe that the anointing is something that every single believer in Jesus Christ possesses, by virtue of being God’s child and being the recipient of the Holy Spirit. But our experience of the anointing is more than simply having him. It has to do with enjoying the deep relational work he does on the inside of us.
When you use your God-given gifts… when you obey God’s words… when you pray and trust God… when you seek his truth… when you keep walking in faith with an unexplainable level of energy despite your circumstances… you’re experiencing and enjoying the anointing of God.
Will you always be aware of the anointing through some special feeling or experience? Probably not. It’s entirely possible you will be involved in a moment of worship, either public or private, when you will be keenly aware of the presence and power of God overwhelming your emotions, filling you with hope, and guiding your mind to glorify him.
But even when you don’t feel him, he’s empowering you anytime you walk in obedience and faithfulness with his gifts and calling.
I believe that the anointing is universally present in all believers, but is experienced in a uniquely personal way. For some, it manifests as tremendous results from preaching the gospel, as in the case of Billy Graham. In others, it may be that masses of people are moved to glorify God while being led in a time of worship musically, as often happens when Neil Greenhaw, our Worship Pastor at Grace Hills, is leading us.
And just as much as you may witness the evidence of God’s anointing in some kind of church gathering, the power of God’s anointing is also experienced in your private times of worship and prayer or when you’re at work using your gifts and abilities to honor God’s creativity.
In other words, the anointing of God isn’t just for those with a particular calling or office or role as a public communicator. The anointing is for you when you’re living and walking in close fellowship with God.
So how do you have God’s anointing? I believe it’s about positioning.
It’s not a matter of asking for God to anoint you. There’s nothing wrong with doing that, but it’s unnecessary since his anointing is something you already possess as a believer. You don’t have to pray for it, though prayer can certainly help you consciously connect to it.
It’s also not a matter of getting into any particular kind of emotional state. You don’t have to close your eyes, raise your hands, cry, or pray in tongues to have God’s anointing.
You simply must be ready. You need only be properly positioned close to God at any given moment.
When you live ready for battle, ready for service, ready for God to show up and do what only God can do, you will experience his anointing.
In other words, be “anointable.” Live ready. Be vigilant and ever-aware that God is always at work in, around, and through you!
When you follow Jesus, you have what you need already. Or better yet, you have the One you need living right inside you.