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How I Stumbled Into a Thin Place

Jesus instructed us to pray, “Thy kingdom come…” and what could be a clearer expression of the Kingdom than the multiplication of “thin places”? 


I was a replacement for Loren Cunningham—which clearly did not please the congregation.  It was my first time to be the preacher for a Sunday service.  Even though it was a small church in a farming town of no more than five thousand people, I was nervous!

Loren had invited me to travel to a few churches in the Midwest of the USA, but after little more than a week, he informed me that he had two commitments for the next Sunday, one in Chicago and one in a small town in Iowa.  He suggested that I should go to Iowa and then “see what opens up after that”.  So that was the end of my travels with Loren!


I did my best to preach a good sermon that morning, but with no training and no previous experience, I knew it did not go well.  After that one Sunday meeting, I had no place to go and no money to travel, so on Monday morning, I asked the pastor if I could stay awhile.  Though he was not that thrilled about the idea, he agreed, and suggested that we have an evening meeting for the youth of his church and the Methodist church the following evening.


What followed was way beyond what I could have imagined.  Towards the end of that youth evening, the Holy Spirit gently fell on the dozen young people who remained, and they all came to a recognition that they needed a saviour.  That was followed by individual repentance and then a joyful awareness that they had been forgiven and that they were “clean” in God’s sight. 

The next day, those young people returned to the small house where we had been the night before, and they brought friends.  The same thing happened again!  And so, a pattern emerged.  They would come at lunch time and again after school and then again in the evenings and each time God’s presence would apprehend them and especially the friends they brought.  The ministers of the town met with me and asked that the evening meetings be held in the churches, rotating from one to the next each evening. So, that’s what we did, but the Holy Spirit would come on the youth when they came back to the little house after the church meetings.


Over a period of three weeks, several hundred young people came to faith.  They were driving in from towns around the region as the news spread by word of mouth and through the local newspaper.

I had stumbled upon a “thin place”, a specific location where the veil between heaven and earth has become “thin”. 


I had heard about this happening before because Duncan Campbell, who was the catalyst preacher for the Hebrides Islands revival, had been a teacher in my School of Evangelism a few months earlier.  From his teaching, and subsequent reading about revivals, I knew that somewhere, someone must have prayed until the veil was thinned out.  But I never met that person.


About 25 years later, I was reading a book on Spiritual Gifts, by C. Peter Wagner and he listed “intercessory prayer” as one of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit.  He gave an example of a person who exercised that gift and mentioned that she lived in that same little Iowa town!  I was amazed at the coincidence, but also delighted to fill out the picture of what had happened there, because I knew I got to reap a harvest that I had not prepared.


After another 15 years, and with the development of social media, I received an inquiry.  “Are you the Lynn Green who was in this Iowa town 40 years ago?  If you are, would you come back for the 40-year anniversary of that move of God?” 

Marti and I did make the journey back to Iowa and met some of the “young people”, now in their 50s and 60s.  They were people whose lives were turned right side up four decades earlier.  It was thrilling to hear the stories of those who had gone on to pioneer new Christian ministries or had been serving in local government or education or some other sphere of society.


I don’t think “thin places” develop in some arbitrary manner.  For example, prior to the Hebrides revival, two elderly ladies engaged in sacrificial prayer until they received assurance from heaven that a breakthrough had been secured.  Then Duncan Campbell arrived, and the presence of God grew powerful and people were spontaneously converted.  It was reported that fishermen coming into port experienced conviction of sin as they neared the island.


On that fortieth anniversary trip to Iowa, we discovered that the intercessor was a lady in a nursing home.  She suffered from multiple sclerosis, but the young people in the town knew her because she was unrelentingly encouraging and welcoming to all who would visit her.  The light of Jesus shone from her.  They told us that she instructed the nursing staff to wake her early each day so she could get through her daily prayer list.  She was the lady that Peter Wagner wrote about in his passage on intercessory prayer.


Surely, we all love the idea of a “thin place”, a place where God’s presence is so strong that people’s lives are changed just by being there.  But I remain convinced that these things do not occur because of some arbitrary and mysterious divine decision.  Jesus instructed us again and again in the Gospels to keep on praying; to not give up; to cry out day and night; to fast and pray until our prayers are answered.

Jesus instructed us to pray, “Thy kingdom come…” and what could be a clearer expression of the Kingdom than the multiplication of “thin places”?  Is it possible that some who read this article could be called to prepare the way of the Lord through sacrificial prayer until His presence saturates their town, or church, or nation?  Could that be you?

Lynn Green.

Lynn Green and his wife Marti first came to England and began the work of Youth With A Mission here in 1971. From 2004-2011 Lynn was YWAM’s International Chairman. He continues to convene YWAM’s global leadership meetings, and focuses much of his energy on international leadership development.

13 comments on “How I Stumbled Into a Thin Place

  1. shirley alman

    Lynn, please tell me the name of the little town in Iowa!


  2. Timothy Scott

    That was very encouraging Lynn. I and three others are praying every week at various places around Langford, our town. Sometimes its tough to keep on praying but we are expecting God to move into the area. Its the fastest growing town in Canada..


    • Good to hear from you, Tim! Keep it up—-keep knocking, keep asking, keep seeking!


    • Darryl Jones

      This story brought me to tears. We have been prayer walking our city for twenty years and are starting to see the fruit people are getting saved healed and delivered right on the streets in the down town area. Even on the spot baptisms in the park. Keep praying don’t give up you will see the harvest. The plowman shall overtake the reapers. As the presence of God falls on your city it will pick up momentum.


  3. I love it. A thin place. I am believing for God to do the same for Penang, Malaysia. Thank you.


  4. Hi Lynn, Interesting article! I know am late to the party with this comment but I was very curious about the gift of ‘Intercessory prayer’. Of course prayer is a vital part of the Christian life but the idea that someone is gifted in it intrigued me. Reading Wagner his argument for this gifting relied heavily on experience as opposed to a Biblical text so I was wondering where you would go to in the Bible to show a believer this is a spiritual gifting that God has given the Church? I would love to have somewhere I can ground this specific gifting in God’s word. Blessings!


    • I don’t think the NT is explicit about the spiritual gift of intercession. I think Peter Wagner tended to assume that there is no passage to indicate the gifts, or manifestations, or ministries of the Holy Spirit are exhaustively listed in the various passages on the subject, such as 1 Cor 12, Eph 4 and Romans 12. On the assumption that the Holy Spirit has consistently empowered His people to do a a wider range of gifts than those listed, he then looked at the fruitful practices of the Church now and historically. In that way he came up with quite a long list–I can’t remember exactly how many because it has been more than two decades since I read the book. I think that is an acceptable way to approach the subject, but I would not criticize those who assume the only gifts/manifestations are those explicitly listed.

      All that to say that I cannot point to one passage or another to confirm that intercession is a spiritual gift, but I certainly know many people who have a greater ability to intercede than most of us!


      • lionelsimon1501

        Thank you for your answer. I can see how labelling ‘extra’ biblical gifts can help when someone can see their ‘functions’ (such as how the name ‘Trinity’ is great succinct way to describe the way God reveals himself in the scriptures). That was helpful to determine where Wagner’s recognition of the ‘Intercessory Prayer’ gifting comes from.

        Also, I appreciate your experiences in which you have met people with this gift. Though I must say I do have a few reservations concerning some of the consequential beliefs which arise from believing that there are individuals who have a greater ability to intercede. I would love to share them with you and see what you think.

        It appears that if there are some gifted in intercessory prayer then there must be those with a lesser ability to intercede and see breakthroughs occur. Furthermore if those who are praying create these areas of ‘thin place’ “a place where God’s presence is so strong that people’s lives are changed just by being there”, in place that are not being prayed over, does it mean God’s presence in these areas is weaker and thus the Holy Spirit works less effectively? If that dear lady had not been praying would God have been hamstrung trying to bring those individuals to him?

        Are these valid concerns or is there something I am failing to understand, which the Bible illuminates? Blessings


      • Think of it like this: we are all exhorted by scripture to evangelize, but not all are evangelists. We are all able to prophecy, but not all are prophets.
        Prayer can be the same. All are exhorted to pray, but some are gifted intercessors. I know a few.

        There are many examples of “thin places” in the history of God’s work. That could be applied to the tabernacle and, later, the temple. In Church history, you can read about the Western Desert in Egypt, or the Monastery of St Katherine, or the Hebrides revival period. In each case one can find a direct connection with sacrificial and persistent prayer. I wouldn’t say God’s presence is weaker elsewhere. The term ~”thin place” is a good descriptive term–the “veil between heaven and earth” is thinned out. That is still just an effort to use concrete language to describe a spiritual reality and that is always just approximate.

        Liked by 1 person

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