Slaying in the Spirit

What the Bible Says About It

In many Christian meetings today, we find people falling down when they are touched or prayed over by men of God. They claim that it is the power of God’s Spirit coming upon them that causes them to fall down. The question is, “Is that claim valid?”The purpose of this article is to allow a believer to see the truth of the way God’s Spirit touched people in Biblical times. We leave the conclusions to the reader.

We are concerned because God says through prophet Hosea thus: “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. … A people without understanding will come to ruin” (Hosea 4:6, 14z NIV). Our aim, therefore, is to give you the key to this knowledge which shall help you from being destroyed.

As you read kindly keep in mind one fact about the last days in which we live. Jesus clearly stated that many false prophets will appear and deceive many people in the last days. He warned that they will perform great signs and wonders. So Jesus said: “Watch out that no one deceives you …So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.” ( Mark 13:5, 23 NIV).

Characteristics of falling down in the Bible

  1. This experience is not a common occurrence in the Bible. It happened only during very special visitations from God.But today: We find this happening in every meeting. Sadly, there are many Christians going to meetings seeking this experience. And at least a few pride themselves over others as superior Christians because of this experience.
  2. All these “falling down” experiences described in the Bible occur facedown. Bowing down in a facedown manner is an act of worship. The Psalmist says: “Come, let us bow down in worship” (Psalm 95:6a NIV).An example: Ezekiel falls facedown when he saw the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord (Ezekiel 1:28) [author’s emphasis].

    Other examples of falling facedown: Abram (Genesis 17:3), Moses (Exodus 34:8), Aaron and Moses (Numbers 16:22,45 and 20:6), Balaam (Numbers 22:31), Joshua (Joshua 5:14), Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:18), the people of Israel (Leviticus 9:24, 2 Chronicles 7:3, Nehemiah 8:6), David (1 Chronicles 21:16), Ezekiel (3:23, 9:8, 11:13, 43:3, 44:4), Daniel (8:17,18, 10:9,15), Peter, James and John (Matthew 17:6), women at the tomb (Luke 24:5), angels, the twenty-four elders and four living creatures (Revelation 7:11, 11:16).

    But today: Everywhere we see people falling backwards*. How can that, the very opposite of bowing facedown, be an act of worship that honors God? If even before earthly kings people bow down with their faces to the ground to pay honor, how can people dare to fall backwards before God and call it an act of worship? Even Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane, falls with His face to the ground when He prayed (Matthew 26:39).

    Warning: There are three instances in the Bible where falling backwards has been specifically mentioned.

    1. “When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died (1 Samuel 4:18a NIV).
    2. “So then, the word of the Lord to them will become: … so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured (Isaiah 28:13 NIV).
    3. “When Jesus said, `I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground” (John 18:6 NIV).


    If the first instance was part of judgment on the house of Eli, the second instance is God’s judgment on the people of Israel who refused to listen to His instructions. The third instance is the falling of soldiers when they came to arrest Jesus. It is very clear from the words used that they did NOT fall forward.

    So, in the Bible falling backward is pictured as a sign of God’s judgement rather than an act of worship.

  3. Such falling facedown experiences occurred due to very intense encounter with God’s Spirit. This often left the person tired, without strength and overwhelmed, at times, for many days altogether.Examples: Ezekiel sat overwhelmed for seven days after such an experience (Ezekiel 3:15). Daniel was exhausted and lay ill for several days (Daniel 8:27) after such an experience. He lost his strength and his face turned deathly pale and was helpless and speechless during another experience (Daniel 10:8,15).

    But today: We find people who are slayed in the Spirit not undergoing any such intense exhaustion.

  4. When falling facedown, Ezekiel and Daniel were lifted up by the Spirit of God or an Angel and not by any human being.Some Examples:
    1. The Spirit comes into Ezekiel and lifts him up (Ezekiel 2:2, 3:24, 43:5).
    2. Angel Gabriel touched Daniel and helped him to his feet (Daniel 8:18), and a heavenly man helps him get up in another instance (Daniel 10:10,18).
    3. In the mountain of transfiguration, we find Jesus helping the disciples get to their feet: “When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. `Get up,’ he said. `Don’t be afraid’ ” (Matthew 17:6,7 NIV).


    But today: We find helpers assisting people in their fall backwards, then they lie on the floor and later are helped to their feet again by these helpers.

  5. All the Biblical experiences of the visitation of the Spirit of God are associated with the purpose of giving instruction of great importance to the person or persons concerned or associated with intense moments of worshiping God.But today: Almost every time slaying-in-the-Spirit experiences are associated with healing. Such experiences happen in normal services in the Church or meetings. It has become a common place experience.

    Warning: Nowhere in the Bible has such visitations of God been associated with miracles of healing!


We believe that the slaying in the Spirit experience feeds sensationalism. In other words it reflects Jesus’ judgment on people who seek after signs and miracles rather than seek God: “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of Jonah” (Matthew 12:39 NIV, also in Matthew 16:4, Luke 11:29).Jesus was here emphasizing the cross. He wants His servants to preach the forgiveness of sins that has been made available through His shed blood on the cross. This is the gospel by which people shall have the gift of salvation and eternal life.

Sensational experiences like slaying in the Spirit cannot save people.

Warning: Read Jesus’ final reply to the craving for a miraculous sign: “And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation” (Matthew 12:45b NIV).

IF, slaying in the Spirit experience is not from God, then what Jesus said as warning can happen to those people who subject themselves to experiencing it. God has instructed us to weigh carefully what the prophets say: “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others weigh carefully what is said” (1 Corinthians 14:29 NIV). Are you weighing carefully the things that are happening in the name of the Spirit of God?

A Final Word: All that we have tried to do in this article is to help you know those passages in the Bible which speak about a phenomenon that today is popularly known as “Slaying in the Spirit.” He who has an ear let him hear!

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV)

* To the best of our knowledge, as far as we have seen and observed, falling backwards, is what is happening in many of the Christian meetings around the world. That doesn’t mean falling forwards would make this experience Scriptural unless it is a real move of the Spirit of God.

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