Pray for the Holy Spirit
Does a Christian not have to give thanks for receiving the Holy Spirit? When you come to faith, you receive the Holy Spirit. Even the sealing with the Spirit. And at the same time, it is true that you come to faith through the Holy Spirit, and that this faith is also strengthened by this Spirit. Why then must you pray for the Holy Spirit?
Is it not true of God’s children: by grace you have been saved? That is a fact!
Yet, God’s children must pray repeatedly for grace, for God’s favor, in order to understand: my grace is sufficient for you (2 Cor. 12).
It is necessary
Jesus said to his disciples, precisely in the context of learning to pray, that they must pray for the Holy Spirit (Luke 11). He tells them that his Father will give them this Spirit. Not only at Pentecost, but also afterwards. Even though the Holy Spirit is poured out only once. The Holy Spirit must always be involved. The Holy Spirit takes all from Christ and preaches this to Jesus’ followers. He leads in truth and prays. He assures and renews, to name just a few wonderful realities.
The Spirit prays with the bride, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
Without the Holy Spirit we cannot live and cannot pray. We are and remain entirely dependent on the Holy Spirit and his work for us and in us.
That is why it is necessary to pray for the Holy Spirit, also today.
Christians must also learn that. In that regard, they are never finished learning nor finished with their prayers.
With our heart
The question is how we must pray. It can be done in various ways.
Just think of the many prayer postures we find in the Bible. We come across: standing before God’s face, kneeling, sitting down, raising hands, etc.
There are people who must pray with their eyes open, in order to concentrate. For others, this would seem disrespectful.
But whatever posture we assume, it’s about the heart. We do not pray for the sake of appearances!
The Pharisees did this on the street corners, when, “by chance” it was just at the time of prayer that they were at the busy street corners. This praying for appearances can happen to us when we pray for people, at meetings and even in prayer meetings. Let’s pray briefly, even though we can pray at such length that we forget the time. Jesus spent whole nights in prayer. These meetings are not always the place for long prayers.
Important is that our prayers come from the heart. This can also be true of pre-formulated prayers, although the danger is great in such instances that we say the words without thinking about them. The advantage of form prayers is that we are guarded from one-sided prayers, which can very easily happen in “free prayers.”
When the heart is missing, everything is missing. “Go away,” says the Lord in Isaiah 1. He cannot bear it. He is too holy for it. God sees the heart.
That’s why it’s not about beautiful prayer words. Some seem to have “the gift of prayer,” but will the Lord judge these prayers positively if the heart is not in it?
The Heidelberg Catechism follows Holy Scripture in speaking about groaning when it deals with one of the aspects of prayer. In Psalm 5 it says, “Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.” This groaning is equally a reality in prayer life.
Groaning, not in a negative sense, but with a very positively meaning. Groaning with expectation, as we read about in Romans 8. This is a sigh (groan) in expectation of the fulfillment of God’s promises. With unspeakable groanings. Towards the new day.
God’s children know these sighs. For the Spirit works these in them and reinforces them too. It is the intense desire for full salvation.
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope!” (Psalm 130).
There is a sigh for mercy. Acknowledged by people who know what mercy is and know the need to live out of grace. How you need God’s favor in the many situations in your life, in your personal life, in life as a Christian congregation and wherever you are and work.
“From his fullness we have received grace upon grace,” confesses John. The Spirit teaches us to seek out this grace, and therefore pray, all the while sighing. This then is sighing prayerfully and praying with sighing.
This article was translated by John Vanderstoep.