What Does it Mean to Fan into Flame the Gift of God?

Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog.

The apostle Paul uses an interesting phrase in 2 Timothy 1:6: “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you.

What is the gift of God in us? Why do we need to fan it into flame? And how do we do that?

What is the gift of God in us?

Verse 7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power and of love and of sober mindedness.” Since this immediately follows verse 6, it’s easy to see the gift of God in us is our human spirit. Note 1 in the New Testament Recovery Version explains what spirit means here:

“The spirit here denotes our human spirit, regenerated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (John 3:6; Rom. 8:16). To fan into flame the gift of God (v. 6) is related to our regenerated spirit.”

Before we were born again, our spirit was completely dead, cold, and empty. But when we believed in Christ, He as the life-giving Spirit came to be mingled with and live in our spirit. Our regenerated human spirit was ignited with the divine fire of the Spirit of God. The precious gift of God in us is our spirit indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This is the gift we must fan into flame.

Why do we need to fan our spirit into flame?

Since we have this gift of God in us, why do we need to fan it into into flame? Yes, our regenerated spirit was ignited by the divine fire of the Spirit. But after we’re saved, our zeal for the Lord may eventually fade. We’re not as hot and burning as when we first received the Lord. But Romans 12:11 exhorts us not to be “slothful in zeal, but be burning in spirit, serving the Lord.”

The Lord wants us to be hot, burning in our love to Him and our service to Him. This is why we need to fan our spirit into flame.

An illustration of fanning into flame

To illustrate what it means to fan our spirit into flame, let’s say you go camping. To make a fire, first you lay down some dry twigs as kindling, followed by layers of small branches and logs. Then you light a match and set the kindling afire. The flames spread, and you soon have a nice fire. Warmed by the fire in the cold night air, you eventually fall asleep.

Later, you awaken to find you no longer have a fire burning. But you do have some live embers. You realize you don’t need another match to relight your fire; you just need to get down close to blow on the embers and then fan them. With the increased oxygen, they become even hotter. You add small branches and keep fanning until they’re set aflame. Then you add logs, and soon you have a roaring fire again.

After we’ve been saved for a while, we may no longer be “burning.” Our need is not to “relight” our spirit by getting saved all over again. In fact, this is impossible; once we’re saved, we’re saved forever. Even when we aren’t burning, our spirit is still a “glowing ember” that was ignited with the fire of the Holy Spirit already. We simply need to fan our spirit to give it more “oxygen” until it’s burning once more.

How do we fan the gift of God into flame?

Just as a fire needs oxygen to burn, for us to be burning in spirit, we need the oxygen of the Spirit. Daily we need to open up to breathe in the divine oxygen of the Spirit. By opening our mouth to pray, sing, or call on the Lord’s name, we inhale the Spirit as the divine oxygen. This is how we fan our spirit into flame.

Let’s look at four great ways to do this.

1. Praying out loud

By praying out loud, we can fan our spirit into flame. Instead of praying silently in your head, try praying out loud, even if it’s just softly or quietly at first. God certainly knows what’s on our heart, but the problem is we have a very active mind. One minute we’re here, and the next second, we’re halfway around the globe. Praying out loud helps us focus and subdue all distracting thoughts so we can contact the Lord in our spirit and breathe Him in through prayer.

2. Singing to the Lord 

Singing to the Lord is a very enjoyable way to fan our spirit into flame. Instead of staying silent, we can open our mouth in song to the Lord. The more we open our being to the Lord when we sing, the more He fills us. We can start by singing a hymn or a spiritual song while getting ready for work in the morning. We can sing while walking to class or driving our car. Singing to the Lord fills us with the oxygen of the Spirit.

3. Calling on the Lord

Calling on the name of the Lord is a simple way to fan our spirit into flame. Usually we aren’t burning in spirit when we first wake up in the morning. Sometimes it’s even hard to pray, or we don’t know what to pray. But we can simply say, “Oh, Lord Jesus,” or, “Lord Jesus, I love You,” or, “Lord Jesus, thank You for a new day.” As soon as we open our mouth to call on the Lord’s name like this, we begin to fan our spirit into flame.

Sometimes we’re very low. We don’t have to wait for something to change before we can feel better. Even in our low state, we can call on the Lord to contact Him and receive more of Him. In Lamentations 3:55 the prophet Jeremiah said, “I called upon Your name, O Jehovah, from the lowest pit.” Calling on the Lord not only lifts us out of our low pit, but it also causes us to become burning once again. 

4. Crying out to the Lord 

One of the best ways to open to the Lord and fan our spirit into flame is to cry out to Him. Isaiah 12:6 says, “Cry out and give a ringing shout, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” Psalm 47:1 says, “Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with the voice of a triumphant sound.”

Crying out is even louder than praying out loud, and it may seem awkward when we first do it. But we can receive more of the Spirit by crying out to the Lord. The more we shout our praise to Him, the more burning in spirit we become. You can experiment with fanning your spirit into flame by crying out or shouting praises to the Lord for all He is and all He’s done.

We hope this discussion on the phrase “fan into flame the gift of God which is in you” in God’s Word helps you to better understand its meaning. Even more, we hope it becomes your experience more and more with the four ways we touched on.

Let’s practice fanning into flame the gift of God in us every day so we can be burning in spirit!

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