How I Rely On the Holy Spirit

flying dove

I was considering entitling this note “How to rely on the Spirit” – but I just can’t bring myself to suggest that I have the answer or know the way that everyone should rely on Him. I just know what has been effective in my own life and what has enlarged my joy and confidence. I know how I rely on Him, and how I intend to do so more. So, here’s how…

My use of the word “rely” comes from the NLT’s wording in 1 Cor. 2:4 where Paul writes, “…I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit.” I like the use of “rely” here because its definition expresses precisely what I think is Paul’s position. It means 1.) depend on with full trust or confidence 2.) be dependent on. Paul relied on the Spirit. Paul enjoins the same sentiment for his audience that he does for himself in Galatians 5:25, “since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit”. In Corinthians Paul speaks of spirit-enabled ministry, in Galatians he speaks of spirit-enabled ethics. Both testimonies invite us, urge us, to look to and lean upon the Holy Spirit for every aspect of Christian living.

For me, relying on the Spirit means that I trust Him deeply, so much so that my trust expresses itself in my attitudes and actions. I rely on Him. The more deeply I trust Him, the more readily I rely on Him. What do I specifically mean by “trust”? What do I trust Him to be and do? What do I trust about Him?

I trust that He is fully present:

I believe that the Holy Spirit is here, now, fully-in-this-moment. I do not believe that I need to rub a lamp or conjure Him up. I do not believe that He is aloof or elusive. Jesus promised that because He was going to the Father, that we could live in the immediate presence of the Holy Spirit, and that He would be present in our lives in every Helpful way (John 14-16). In Acts, Luke describes the Spirit in a believer’s life as “full” or “filled.” He gives no hint of partial presence. I trust that He is fully present, in this moment, in me and with me. I thank Him, honor Him, welcome Him, adore Him and yield to His fullness.

I trust that He is working:

I believe that His presence is active, not passive. He is not with me as an observer, but a Helper. He is not a silent partner; He is the Senior Partner. He is powerful; He is totally sufficient. He is present to influence, to form, to encourage, to strengthen, to enable. I completely depend on Him. Just as certain as I am that He is present, regardless of what I feel or do not feel, I believe—I trust—that He is working.

I trust that his work is working.

I believe that His work in and through me is effectual. I anticipate results.  I believe He is producing fruit in me (Gal. 5:22). I believe He is supplying the grace and power for any need and opportunity (Acts 1:8, 1 Cor. 12:7). I am confident that He is applying in my life all that Jesus accomplished on the Cross. He is working, and I believe His work is working.

I rely on the Holy Spirit by trusting Him.  In witness and worship, in service and ethics, I believe He is present, powerful, and producing.


Believing deeply; praying boldly

man in praise         

  Oh good – another article that lectures me about my prayer life. Wait! Don’t click away just yet. I know you know you’re “supposed” to pray. I also know that regardless of how important prayer is, it is not necessarily popular. I don’t know any honest believer that wouldn’t like to improve their prayer lives. And for some – any improvement would be… an improvement.

How can we improve our prayer lives? Perhaps we should pray “more”? Or more “correctly”? Perhaps better models, methods, routines, times of the day… volume levels, background music? No. Any emphasis on performance or perfection will pollute our prayer life. Our goal is neither condemnation nor complication here.

To change how we behave, we must change what we believe. Therefore, let us endeavor to believe differently about prayer. Let us improve what we believe. Belief isn’t necessarily binary – not either/or and not pass or fail. Belief can be a matter of depth. The more deeply we believe something the more influence it has over our thoughts and affections and actions. Let us believe more deeply that we might pray more boldly.

Three things to believe about prayer

1.)  Believe the Holy Spirit is Present as you pray (fully present, participating, literally partnering)

Paul describes and prescribes an awareness of the Holy Spirit in prayer. In Romans 8:26 he says that the Spirit literally prays with us and for us. In Ephesians 6:18 he urges believes to pray in the Spirit always. This may include spiritual language – but not exclusively. Wayne Grudem tells us that “in the Spirit” means “to pray with conscious awareness of God’s presence surrounding us.” And even when Paul prayed for people – he was confidently aware of and depending on the work of the Spirit (Eph. 1:17, 3:16)

How would pray if you believed that the Holy Spirit is fully present as you pray?

2.)  Believe you are praying FROM, and not FOR.

Prayer is not my effort to secure a relationship with God. I am not attempting to do enough, say enough, or try hard enough in order to be heard. A great deal of negative things have resulted from people thinking that they need to work themselves up or do “enough” for God to pay attention. It breeds pride. It leads to discouragement. It sets a trap for condemnation if you feel you didn’t do enough or fell short.

Instead we must believe that we are praying FROM favor and not FOR it, from relationship and not for, from acceptance and not for, from nearness and not for.

Jesus taught, in Matthew 6:7-8 that your confidence is not in your efforts or volume or methods – that’s paganism. Your confidence is in Your Father. The Holy Spirit is crying out “Abba Father” within us (Rom. 8:15, Gal. 4:6).

Further, we pray with confidence in the finished work of Christ. The blood of Jesus has brought me near, called me close, and welcomed me to the Throne of God (Eph. 2:13, Hebrews 4:16).

Most specifically, Christ has enjoined us to pray in His name (John 16:24). To do something in someone’s name means to do so as if it were them doing it. When Jesus prayed, he was not struggling for acceptance; he prayed from the love and pleasure of His Father (Luke 3:21). To pray in His name fully implies that I am praying… as Christ. Imagine.

How would you pray if you believed, deeply, that you prayed “from” and not “for”?

3.)  Believe that prayer matters.

Here’s probably the rub – do we really believe that prayer matters? That it can and will make a difference? I suppose we hope it does; especially in moments of our most urgent concerns. But I can’t help but think that too many have lost confidence in the currency of prayer. Too few pray from a joyful hope that it makes a difference. Jesus did. He prayed like it mattered (Luke 6:12). He talked and taught about prayer like it mattered (Luke 11:1-13). Paul certainly prayed like it mattered and urged his readers to feel the same (1 Thess. 5:17).  Prayer does matter. Prayer touches heaven, changes earth, and affects us in the process*. Few things matter, in fact, more than prayer.

How would you pray if you believed that prayer really matters?

To change how we behave, we must change what we believe. Therefore, let us believe more deeply that we pray in the presence and partnership of the Holy Spirit, that we pray from the favor of God and not for it, and that prayer really, really matters. Believing this deeply, we might pray more boldly, more enthusiastically, more joyfully, and yes – even more often.

*See “Why Prayer Matters”

Why I pray in tongues

In the quiet dark of the night, with my family retired to bed, I kneel with face pressed into the throw pillows of our sofa, instrumental music playing quietly behind me. A surreal, almost physical  sensation resonates in my soul. I am praying – but using words that flow without effort or forethought. Strange sounds and syllables spill from my lips. I am praying in tongues. And I love it.
I am aware of the the sometimes controversial subject of tongues. Some folks are anti-all-things-Pentecostal. Others are open to spiritual gifts, but don’t want them emphasized too much, especially tongues, and especially not in public. Whatever. I pray in tongues. I love it. I don’t insist on you sharing my perspective.  I welcome you to consider my testimony. I pray in tongues. Often. I intend to do so more often. Here’s why…
I trust the Holy Spirit. I love Him – and I trust His leadership, His influence, His presiding presence in my life. When I pray in tongues, the Holy Spirit helps me pray – praying through me. Romans 8:26 seems to indicate that the Spirit helps me pray in particular when I don’t know how or what to pray. Frankly, my ability to know what or how to pray is diminuative compared to His. So, I trust him.
Interestingly enough, praying in tongues seems to encourage me to trust Him more. Somehow it focuses or deepens my awareness of His presence, of His help, of just how significant He is and how near He is. I long to lean into Him more.
And then, as I consider my life, my responsibilities, and the opportunites and challenges in front of me, praying in tongues becomes increasingly more appealing. Even as I kneel or pace, I meditate over the concerns before me, believing that the Spirit is more aware than I am, infinitely so, of what can be and what should be. I reflect on people, on tasks, on dreams and desires – painting them on the canvass of my imagination while I pray. I thoroughly believe the Holy Spirit is helping me, interceding for and through me according to the will of God.
Further, as all this occurs, I can sense my affections and thoughts being influenced. How I feel and what I think about people or circumstances or projects is warmed by the rays of His grace and wisdom. The intuitive, sensitive parts of my inner person are awakened. I often have impressions or images flash across my mind. These usually are with regard to how I should  act or what I should  say. He quickens a sacred empathy for others.
Finally, I pray in tongues because I can. Scripture informs me that I am being edified, somehow strengthened, improved, enhanced – whatever – as I pray in tongues. I can’t explain what is happening. I could theorize, but my theories aren’t as important as what I know to be true- that praying in tongues has a direct, positive impact on my person. I am better for it. Not better than the next person, but better than I was before. Not more saved. Not more loved by God. But better. It is impossible to interpret the New Testament otherwise – “he who prays in an unknown tongue edifies himself” (1 Cor. 14:4). So I will – even more.
One more thought – one that intrigues and inspires me. Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 14:18 that he was thankful that he spoke in tongues more than all of his letter’s audience. Really? So Paul spoke (prayed) in tongues – a LOT. He did so much, so often, that he boasted confidently that he did so “more” than “all” of the Corinthians. Does that mean more than any one of them, or more than all of them combined? It doesn’t matter which – the point is that Paul was conscious of the volume of time he vested in tongues. And, he was THANKFUL to God for that time and for the impact it had. He knew that tongues was valueable, and he was acutely aware of the positive effects it had on his own life.  Paul does not say enough about his prayer life for us to dissect and diagram. But he says enough to inspire. His testimony serves as an invitation to discover and explore just how beneficial tongues can be.
So, I pray in tongues.I want to do so MORE. I do so not because I worry about what happens if I do not, but because I wonder may happen if I do.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to share
~ Dav