This article answers the question of whether or not we should pray for the Holy Spirit to dwell in us.

Source: Clarion, 2015. 2 pages.

Should We Pray for the Indwelling of the Spirit?


In our Bible Study group we discussed the need for a Christian to pray to God for indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Some of the members answered this question in the positive because we need to pray to our heavenly Father for all our needs, including the need of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

The remainder of the group answered in the negative because the Spirit is at work in us from the first act which is regeneration, and therefore the Bible has an abundance of texts which support the view that the Spirit indwells us. We should thank God for the Spirit which is at work in us and pray that the fruits of the Spirit will be visible in our day to day life. This view creates some tension with Q and A 116 of the HC where it is stated that God only gives his grace and Holy Spirit to those who constantly and with heartfelt longing ask him for these gifts and thank him for them. This also creates some tension with the Canons of Dort where regeneration (work of the Spirit) is viewed as the work of God alone without the will of men. Could you provide us with some insight here?


This is one of those matters in which both views are correct (hence, we don't have to fear a division among the members of this Bible Study group, thankfully). In the covenant the LORD works with us for one hundred per­cent and we are responsible for one hundred percent. God works faith and without the Holy Spirit man is unable to believe; yet, on hearing the Word man is responsible for it and is called to submit to the Word, repent and believe. By baptism we are assured of the forgiveness of our sins in Jesus blood; yet, the Lord Jesus teaches us to pray, "Forgive us our sins..." The Spirit of God works in the church, which is the workshop of the Holy Spirit: there God is at work in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Phil 2:12); yet, then the admonition is added to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. The hearer has to work with the Word of the Lord, work in the Spirit of the Lord. This emphasizes man's responsibility which is never abrogated, responsibility for everything the Lord is doing in our life. We receive the promise that the Holy Spirit will dwell in us; yet, the Lord Jesus teaches us that God will give you this Holy Spirit when you ask for it (Luke 11:13).

God the Holy Spirit dwells among us. He lives in his holy congregation and he dwells there with those who re­ceive his Word with a believing heart. As we confess with Lord's Day 20, "He is also given to me, to make me by a true faith share in Christ and all his benefits." Thus by the indwelling Holy Spirit we receive the power to bear our cross, to give us patience, endurance, to help us forgive, and to give us strength so that we won't succumb. Hence the Lord's Prayer is a spiritual prayer by which we ask for everything we need for body and soul: for God's Holy Spirit to help us fight against sin, for giving us the light of the Scriptures, for comfort, encouragement endurance, etc. At the same time the Scriptures speak about insulting, of grieving the Holy Spirit of God with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Eph4:30), namely by those who do not live by the undeserved favour of God, who do not value the precious blood of the Son of God, who do not display the sincerity of faith in God, rejecting his Word.

The Holy Spirit renews us, so that we pray for the Holy Spirit, to be renewed more and more. We desire progress in our life as God's children. Every work on our faith, every increase in our fruits, and every enrichment of our life in the grace and peace of God through Jesus Christ, is a work by the Holy Spirit. When Paul, therefore, exhorts us to pray in the Spirit (Eph 6:18), it's a prayer that's initiated and supported by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit directs our prayers to God and brings them in accord­ance to the will of God (Rom 8:26). Prayer is the means whereby the Holy Spirit opens our hearts and minds for God and to God. Prayer, also, is the means of the Spirit by which he strengthens, increases, and multiplies our faith, so that we are enriched by all the treasures and gifts in Christ that come to us in the way of prayer. Then here too we have to pray and work: we pray for the working of the Holy Spirit and all the days of our life we let the LORD work in us through his Holy Spirit (LD 38).

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