The flow and move of the Holy Spirit

The Flow and Move of the Holy Spirit

Learning how to flow with the Holy Spirit is important for any church and Christian today.

John 7:37-39

:37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.

:38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

:39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Water is one of the symbols or emblems for the Holy Spirit.

For more information on this, please see the article on Emblems for the Holy Spirit

Here we see Jesus speaking of ‘flowing rivers’, but he is not just talking about natural water and natural rivers. Jesus says that the rivers He is referring to flow out of the heart of those who believe in Him.

When the Bible explains something, we don’t need to try to look for a further explanation with our own understanding, otherwise we can get confused and into error. 

This passage does not leave us in any doubt about what is being spoken of. Verse 39 clearly tells us that this is speaking of the Holy Spirit.

John 7:39

:39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him  would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Here Jesus is showing us that there are some important truths that we can learn about the Holy Spirit and His ministry through us by comparing the Holy Spirit’s operation to the flow of a river.

If we can understand this aspect of the Holy Spirit’s ministry and operation through us, we will learn to ‘flow’ with Him.
Just like rivers ‘flow’, so the Holy Spirit ‘flows’.

You may have heard terms like, ‘The Move of the Holy Spirit’ or ‘The Flow of the Spirit’.

Flow can be defined as:

to move freely from one place to another in a steady unbroken stream, unhindered steady movement

What is important about a river is that it is not static.

When something ‘flows’ it moves!

When water becomes static, we no longer call it a river, but a dam, lake or pond! Rivers move, and in the same way there is a ‘flow’ or a ‘move’ of the Spirit of God.

This important part of His ministry shows movement.

Unfortunately, many times in churches, the ‘movement’ has disappeared and things have become ‘static’. People try to keep the church ‘stuck’ at a particular place and get upset when there is any ‘movement’. 

If we are going to be true to the Bible and stay close to God as individuals and churches, we need to keep the ‘movement’ aspect of the Holy Spirit’s ministry present – active and alive – in our churches.

Without this movement, the church will become lifeless and static, resulting in it becoming irrelevant and stuck very much like how water that becomes static begins to stagnate

We also need to learn to be able to tell the difference between what is just ‘man’s movement’ and what is genuinely the Holy Spirit.

However we must not shut down ‘all’ movement’  in a church.

Some people get afraid of ‘man moving’ so they shut down all movement and in doing so shut down and quench the true and genuine move of the Holy Spirit as well.

The solution is not to shut down ‘all movement’, but rather to learn to tell what is Him and what is not. Teach the people in the church to be mature with the move of the Holy Spirit rather than shutting it down out of fear of excess.

The Holy Spirit has ways of moving that we need to become sensitive to and learn to flow with. We need to learn how to flow with Him, to be sensitive to His flowing rather than trying to swim against the currents and go upstream.

You can go with Him or against Him.
Many people have no idea how to flow with Him. Many churches and ministers are not sensitive to His flow.

Often what we do is: we decide the direction and expect Him to flow with us. We want the Holy Spirit to move in the direction we lay down, but that is not how it works.

He is the river WE must flow with.
 This takes spiritual sensitivity. It takes being able to recognise where He is flowing and to respond to that.
 In order to do that, the people trying to flow with Him need to have a relationship with Him and have regular fellowship with Him.

Spending regular and consistent time in God’s presence through prayer and time in His Word will prepare you to be more sensitive to flow with Him.

People who spend very little time in prayer and in the Word of God end up being more naturally minded and less spiritually sensitive.

Flowing with the Holy Spirit requires spiritual sensitivity which is developed through ongoing personal relationship with God.

Once we recognise where He is flowing, we need to respond

Often people want to sit and observe, or just sit back and not participate. What that causes is an obstacle to His flow.

When you put an obstacle in a rivers path, it blocks it and the river has to go around. Anything that is STATIC in a rivers path (not moving or flowing with the river) is an obstacle to it.

When enough obstacles are laid down, it totally blocks the flow of the river, causing a dam. When a dam is built, the flow stops.

People have stood in the way of the flow of the Holy Spirit by not responding to Him. In some places there are so many people not flowing and creating obstacles that the entire flow gets shut down.

Some people who think they are being ‘very spiritual’ by not responding to the Holy Spirit are actually being very carnal and are blocking His movement. This is why He often has to go around them or gets stopped altogether

Mark 6:1-6

:1 Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him.

:2 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands!

:3 “Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” And they were offended at Him.

:4 But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”

:5 Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.

:6 And He marvelled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.

Jesus did all His works by the anointing of the Spirit (Acts 10:38).

Here we see that He could do no mighty works. In other words He was prevented or blocked from doing them. This means the anointing, the Holy Spirit could not do what He wanted to do.


The people were blocking Him. 

There are some important lessons to learn from this passage about unbelief, but that is for another teaching. For now, notice that the Holy Spirit’s move was blocked by the people.

In many churches the Move of the Holy Spirit is either non existent or shallow
People are doing things that are just flesh, not Him. We need to be hungry for the true, hungry for the full manifestation of Him, not just man, flesh and the ways of man.

There is a big difference between God doing it and man doing it! Those who have seen and experienced the genuine flow of the Spirit of God can tell a difference between man’s move and God’s move.

Some churches have learned to flow with the Spirit of God.

Just like there are different rivers, with different strengths and flows, so there is diversity in the Holy Spirit. There can be different streams that come together and make up a river.

The Holy Spirit has diversity. There are healing anointings, moves of peace, joy, praise and prayer etc.

I am not talking about man calling a prayer meeting, or a time of Praise. 
I am talking about when God’s people are united together and an anointing of prayer comes into the place, or an anointing or worship.

At times like these, if people will respond they will enter a flow and move of the Spirit of God that will bring tremendous blessing.

What do I mean by respond?

Well it is simple really. If a move of the Holy Spirit comes in in worship, and we all just sit there and look at each other, we are not responding!

Not responding is ‘not moving or flowing’ and is the same as a rock that stands in the path of a river that is trying to flow. The rock becomes an obstacle and the river either has to go around it or is stopped by it.

If the Anointing to pray comes in and we just want to keep Praising, we are going a different direction to ‘the flow’.

There are times we get so into ‘our programme; and routine that the Holy Spirit is limited in what He can do. I am not saying don’t have a programme, but make sure you have the flexibility to allow Him to change it.
If the programme says it’s time to sing the last worship song, then have the announcements; and while we are singing an anointing to Praise comes in, then we have a choice: Go with the programme or respond to Him.

If there is an anointing to praise, then we respond by joy, shouting, praises etc.

Flowing with this anointing can bring greater blessing than just sticking to your programme.

We see this so little in churches, that what I am saying may even be completely foreign to some people reading it!
 We must learn THE WAYS of the Spirit.

Often people only have learned ONE way to respond to Him, so no matter what they sense, they respond that one way.

Some have learned to shout – so if the Spirit moves in hilarity they shout; if He moves in soberness – they shout. If He moves in healing or in revelation – they shout. Because they are limited in their scope of understanding and expressing what He is doing.

On the other hand, some have learned to sit in silence, very still and very quiet. There is defiantly a place for this, but if the Holy Spirit is moving in joy and loud praise, that is NOT the time for it!

When God told the people to march around Jericho, there was a time He commanded them to shout! If they had stood in silence then, they would have been missing God

Many people only know one response to the Holy Spirit and they have only learned to yield THAT way – so every time they sense HIM – they think that’s how they are supposed to respond.

No,  there are many ways to respond – depending upon what is right according to what He is doing.

If the Holy Spirit is moving in peace and intimate worship, then responding with joy and shouting is the wrong response.

We need to be able to tell what He is doing and flow with that! Going a direction He is not going is like trying to paddle your boat upstream instead of flowing with the direction the river is going.

Some people just want to laugh and cry every time the anointing and presence of God comes in, and they miss His moving in peace and intimacy. [pullquote] Some people just want to laugh and cry every time the anointing and presence of God comes in, and they miss His moving in peace and intimacy. [/pullquote]

On the other hand, there are those who only know how to respond to Him by sitting in silence and peace.

No matter what the Holy Spirit tires to do, they just want to sit inert and inactive, not moving. They claim that they are just ‘enjoying His presence’. There is a time for that, and when it is the time, then doing it is right.

However if The Holy Spirit is moving in joy and praise, then that is NOT the time to be quite and inert, claiming you are just enjoying His presence. If the Holy Spirit is moving in joy and the entire church just wants to sit in silence, then they are going against His flow and will block it.

If the Holy Spirit is moving in Joyful praise, jubilation and shouting and you only want to respond to His presence with sitting quietly and in peace, then you are missing His flow.

In that instance, you are making yourself a rock’ that is blocking the flow of the river.

The people who always sit silent when the Holy Spirit moves are also missing it just as much as the ones who shout all the time.

Often one group wants to criticise the other – either for being too loud or for being too quiet. The key is understanding thay both have a place and that we must ALL do both at the right time.

The key is in knowing what is right at what time. That takes learning to understand His flow.
Learn to tell the difference between the move of the Holy Spirit of peace and that of joy. Between a spirit of prayer and a healing anointing.

This takes developing sensitivity to HIS flow. It takes spending time with Him in prayer, developing closeness of fellowship and relationship.

People who never spend time in the Word and in prayer will never learn to flow with Him. They will read a teaching like this but always wonder ‘how do I get that?’

They want some kind of formula to flowing with Him that they can understand with their head.

However the flow of the Holy Spirit comes out of the heart, not the head. It is not an intellectual thing.

John 7:38

:38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

We can either just follow our heads and human reasoning, and do things the way we think they should be done, or we can be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, tap into HIS flow and find there is a presence of God; an Anointing upon what we do.

This is the difference between following your head or your heart!

You have to begin to move forward In Him in your personal life in order to begin to step into these flows of the Spirit in a corporate setting.

Spending time developing your relationship with God through prayer and the Word will increase your sensitivity to your heart, instead of always looking to your head.

It’s one thing to Know that He is present (‘the anointing is here’), it’s another thing to know what it is here for!

Is the anointing here to laugh, or heal, to shout, sing, or kneel? etc
Often when people are around the anointing – and people do something like jump and shout – and that is right for that time – people who are unlearned think that’s the way to respond every time – so for years to come they shout every time the anointing is there.

As a result they only learn that one flow of the Spirit and miss out on the rest.
Some people get uncomfortable with quietness – so every time things get quiet they want to jump up and give a tongue etc. The modern church knows very little about sitting quietly in His presence.
(but that does not mean ALL we should do is be quiet – some people miss it there too and criticise the loud times!)

We must interpret the right flow – the right direction.

Many times we have sensed the anointing – we knew God was moving – but we went a wrong direction with it – and things He intended to happen didn’t happen – because we were ignorant about how to respond to Him and to His flow
I encourage you as you take what you have learned in this article about the Holy Spirit and to learn all there is about Him.

Learn the ways of the Spirit – in your personal life and in our churches and ministries.

You may also be interested in

The Benefits of Praying in Tongues

This article, along with others by the same author can be found at

Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures used are quoted from the New King James Version of the Bible.

© 2008 Exceeding Faith Ministries International & O. Walton.

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Owen Walton

About Owen Walton

Owen is a full time Minister and runs Exceeding Faith Ministries, which is an itinerant teaching Ministry. His desire is to help Christians understand the Bible and get established in biblical truths.