Quite frequently friends and clients who love and follow Jesus confess to me they aren't sure if they have the Holy Spirit. I get it. The Holy Spirit is so powerful and experiential that if/when we are not seeing it or feeling Him - it makes us wonder, "why not?"
Let's clarify something - there are two foundational aspects of the Holy Spirit in our lives - the seal of our salvation and then the ongoing work and filling.
The seal of the Holy Spirit is a one-time event. Peter acknowledges the initial gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38 that is received upon our belief and baptism in Jesus Christ, and Paul affirms it again in Ephesians 1:13, saying, "after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation - having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of the promise."
Ongoing work and filling by the Holy Spirit is that which Paul warns us not to quench, stifle, or grieve (1 Thessalonians 5:19 and Ephesians 4:30), but, holy smokes, the scriptures are crammed packed with incredible stories of what it looks like when we allow the Holy Spirit to run rampant in our lives. Truly, Jesus made a way for eternal goodness, and He came to give us abundant living on this earth - in the here and now. The Holy Spirit is no doubt the key component to that abundance.
Recently, I spent some time grieving and confessing that I had done the very thing Paul warns against. I was so caught up in work, ministry, family life, news/media, and checking the boxes of spiritual disciplines, that I was running on auto-pilot rather than breathing in and receiving the Holy Spirit. I can't put my finger on when this happened; I suppose it was gradual, but here are a few things that tipped me off:
- I was beginning to feel like certain people were my enemies when they are not.
- I was rarely feeling God's presence or His love (even though both still 100% exist).
- When I worshipped, my mind continually wandered toward completely unrelated tasks, news reports, etc., leaving me with little or no feelings of connection during times of worship.
- In the mornings, I desired news reports more than time with God.
- When I went on runs, I was no longer praying but worrying.
- Though I am an avid dreamer, my dreams stopped.
- My conversations with others far more often centered around current events than spiritual matters.
- My husband began to feel more like a teammate than an intimate partner.
- When people would share their heart, hurt, and worries with me, my natural instincts of trying to "fix" were outweighing what I know to be best, which is to first seek His wisdom.
In comparison to my life before Christ, these things seem tame, but they amounted to discontentment, and even worse - a gradual extinguishing of the Holy Spirit, which I've come to fully rely upon. Once we've had a taste of what He has to offer, it is an awful feeling when it's no longer there. I didn't recognize it myself at first, so I simply kept praying, "God, something doesn't feel right. Show me." And He did.
I've spent the last week studying and reminding myself who the Holy Spirit is and what He is capable of doing in our lives. My prayers have been centered around these things, along with confession and an invitation for Him to fully return. Within this process, my spirit is coming back to life - He is showing His love for me, and I'm noticing so much more of the work He is doing. My dreams have returned (I didn't realize they had stopped until they returned!), and some personal changes are on the horizon.
I see my "so-called" enemies in a new light, and I'm hugging my husband a little tighter and a bit more frequently. Worship has become... a bit more worshipful - singing in the shower, saying "good morning" to God as I first awaken. A feeling of confidence washes over me when Scripture is laid open in my lap. Just this week, unbeknownst to Ron and I - at separate times we had the same Scripture "shout" something at us, and when we came back with excitement to share with the other we learned it had happened to both of us. On another occasion, when speaking more intentionally with others about spiritual matters, another faithful friend shared what God had been teaching and showing him, and - guess what?!?! It was almost identical to what we have been seeing and learning. By the power of the Holy Spirit, these things are possible, but they are, nonetheless, always so exciting.
Jesus tells us to crave, hunger, and thirst for righteousness, and, if we do, we will be blessed and we will be filled/satisfied (Matthew 5:6). If you too are wondering if you have quenched the Holy Spirit, but crave for Him to have a front and center spot in your life - then today's the day to invite Him.
Below I will guide you through a prayer/process to reawaken your understanding of the Holy Spirit while also sharing our desire for Him in our lives. I encourage you to do this every day for a week (or once a week for a month), and write down all the things you notice and recognize about the work He is doing in and around you. Be intentional and unrushed in this process, giving yourself time to hear and experience Him. Look at your time "budget" and see what can be carved out. This is so important, and you'll never regret it. Praying for you, my friend, as you reawaken this gift God has for you... for us - the Body.
Close your eyes and still your heart. If music helps you enter a worshipful state, listen to "Holy Spirit" by Francesca Battistelli.
Holy Spirit, You are welcome here. I hunger and I thirst for righteousness, so, just as You promised - fill me and make it so!
Take deep breaths in. As you breathe in, imagine Him filling your body with His presence and His power. Begin with your toes... do you see it?
Keep breathing. Watch as He fills you, starting from your toes up into your gut and surrounding your heart.
Now it is overflowing into your arms and all the way through to your fingertips. What might your hands and feet now be capable of as they are filled with Holy Spirit?
Another deep breath... He is now flowing freely around your mind, mouth, and ears. How might you see, hear, and think differently as He transforms and fills you?
My heart and soul long for You!
Show Me: Part 1 Awareness
I'm not even sure I comprehend what a gift You are and all the effects You have on my life and the Church! Show me all Your benefits that I may know and receive them.
Oh, praise be to God! You have sealed my glorious inheritance received in Christ Jesus. There are so many things in this life that are difficult and tempting, but how many minutes or seconds will I need to be standing face to face with the Father before all these things simply wash away? What a marvelous gift.
Recall the day you surrendered your life to Him.
Take Him in.
"...And when you believed in Christ, He identified you as His own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom He promised long ago." Ephesians 1:13
May I become more aware of Your presence and Your beauty! Show me the unique spiritual gifts you have entrusted to me. Show me the gifts you've given to those around me and how my gifts combined with theirs may enrich our lives and the lives of those we serve.
Give Him a moment to bring these things to mind.
Simply listen and wait.
"There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all." 1 Corinthians 12:4
Daily You teach me and bring to mind the things I need to know to be strengthened, encouraged, and empowered in my daily walk. I no longer want to overlook or blow it off. Help me to see Your work clearly! What is from You? Show me!
The Scripture and all these things brought to mind are Your workmanship - your poem, addressed to me, stamped with Your autograph. How incredible. May I uphold it, cherish it, and not take it for granted!
Imagine His hand penning your name, then, just as if it's a letter, all of Scripture falls on the pages below it... His love for you. His delight for you. The lengths He would go to for you.
Now take reality by the hand, how has He strengthened, encouraged, and empowered you this past day?
"...[the Holy Spirit] will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I [Jesus] have told you." John 14:26
And what would I do or be if You did not intercede for me? I don't know how to pray - I don't know what to ask or in what timing! Yet, You intercede for my weakness and my inabilities with groans that are too deep for words, but they are perfect and exactly what I need because You know me more intimately than is humanly possible. This takes such a weight off of me, allowing me to just enjoy my time with the Father - I don't have to be perfect because You are perfect.
Show me how You have interceded for me. Teach me to trust in the ways in which You go before me.
Allow Him to intercede for you right now. Allow Him to show you ways in which He's done this for you.
"...We do not know how to pray or what we should pray for, but the Holy Spirit prays to God for us with sounds that cannot be put into words." Romans 8:26
It blows my mind that You, who raised Christ from the dead, have chosen to live in me - giving my mortal body LIFE and power. Show me how this is possible and what this really means! My heart cries out as I hunger and thirst for all You have to offer - including this, but I can hardly comprehend. You are so powerful, yet I am weak. Here I am! I trust Your word is true, so show me.
Breathe and receive Him as He is filling your body, mind, and soul with His presence and His power. Trust Him.
"The Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. If the same Holy Spirit lives in you, He will give life to your bodies in the same way." Romans 8:11
And you have not given any of these things to me alone, but to the body - to everyone who has called upon the name of Jesus as Savior. You have sealed every believer, and I give myself to You to be molded and shaped to the body of Christ. Show me I am not alone. Show me how to put away my fear and self-preservation so that I may become most effective in my role within the body. Show me Your power and good work within the whole.
Allow your mind to wander to the faces and names of believers you know... and those you don't know. Envision faces from every tribe, tongue, and nation.
Imagine the Holy Spirit filling their bodies just as He filled yours.
Be filled with awe and wonder at the strength and unity.
"Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit." 1 Corinthians 12:13
Show Me: Part 2 Confession
Oh, how human it is to overlook my own sin! In gentleness, you make my sin known to me, reminding me that it doesn't have to be this way anymore (John 16:7-8). Right now, I welcome You to reveal to me my sin, especially anything I have done to extinguish Your power and work in my life - I don't want it to be this way any longer.
Here I am.
Considering all the way you bless, enrich, empower and fill me, I can't bear the thought of bringing grief to You. Help me to see my bitterness, rage, slander, or malice, and may they be replaced with compassion and forgiveness.
Continue to listen.
If focusing is a challenge, hold your hands in the air, saying, "Here I am. Show me."
"Do not make God's Holy Spirit have sorrow for the way you live. The Holy Spirit has put a mark on you for the day you will be set free. Put out of your life all these things: bad feelings about other people, anger, temper, loud talk, bad talk which hurts other people, and bad feelings which hurt other people. You must be kind to each other. Think of the other person. Forgive other people just as God forgave you because of Christ's death on the cross." Ephesians 4:30-32
Thank You for showing me [Fill in the blanks]. I confess these things to You, and ask that You forgive me and help me turn from these things. For the things I have yet to see and know, I commit to hearing You when you reveal them to me. My deepest desire is to put aside what my sinful nature craves, and, instead, produce in abundance love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Show me where these things exist in my life and to know their source.
Can you still see your body filled to the brim? Now it is overflowing.
That which is flowing from your hands is gentleness and goodness; from your heart is love, joy, and peace.
Look at your feet - overflowing with patience and faithfulness.
All that is flowing from your mouth is kindness and gentleness.
This is the strength and power of the Holy Spirit.
"But the fruit that comes from having the Holy Spirit in our lives is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." Galatians 5:22
You are so so good to me... to us, the body we call "the Church." Thank You... my heart pours out to You... Thank You.
Thank You for revealing these things to me that I may walk confidently and in peace. May I carry this with me as I go throughout my day and week, remembering all You have done and having full anticipation of all You plan to do.
Embrace what you have experienced here.
Take in one last deep breath.
I praise You. You have sealed me and filled me just as You promised.