5-22-15 - Peace, Power, Prayer

This week, preparing for Pentecost, we have explored the ways the Holy Spirit helps us pray and praise, live “pneumatically,” be like pie with the Spirit’s fruit and filling, and accept of the Spirit’s gifts for ministry (can’t think of a “P” word for that…). Let’s end by looking at the way the Spirit brings us supernatural peace, presence and power, through prayer (phew, four more Ps!).

I can think of nothing we need more in our multi-faceted, out-of-control lives than peace and power. And though both are states we can try to achieve on our own, something extraordinary kicks in when we ask them of the Holy Spirit.

When we are in turmoil and pray for God’s peace, and we feel ourselves begin to settle, that is the Holy Spirit at work. Paul calls this peace from the Spirit “the peace that defies understanding.” It comes in profoundly unpeaceful circumstances and is all the more wondrous for being beyond our ability to reason or meditate ourselves into. He told the Philippians to pray in times of anxiety, making petitions, with thanksgiving, and then this peace of Christ will be ours.

Similarly, the power of God comes into us most fully when we are at our weakest. Paul wrote that he heard God say to him, in a moment of crisis, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.(II Corinthians 12:9) This is so counter-intuitive, it can be hard to remember at those times when we’re at a low ebb. Sometimes, when I am facing a deadline or an event and I think, “I got nothin',” I am reminded (by the Spirit?) of this principle. If I do remember to ask for inspiration when creating a sermon or a flyer, ideas soon comes to me.

Paul – and Jesus before him – also relied upon that power of the Spirit revealed in what look to us like miracles to back up their message of radical forgiveness and transformation in God’s love. It is not our power or our persuasiveness or our gifts that reach another's heart – it is the power of God's Spirit working through us.

The Holy Spirit is right here, as close as our breath. In fact, we need only stop and breathe in with intention to begin feeling the Spirit’s presence. If I pray in tongues for a moment, I am dropped into the Spirit's presence. Though praying in tongues is unfamiliar to some, who associate it with the fervor and occasional emotional excess of Pentecostalism, it is a great gift of the Spirit, one intended as a prayer language. It allows us to allow the Spirit to pray through us. In that way, the prayer begins and ends with God. We are just part of the loop, though an integral part of the loop, for if we don’t add our faith and intention, then God’s own desire may not be realized.

Hmmm…. Did I just stumble into a sticky theological thicket there? Maybe... but here's Paul, again, in a passage also appointed for Sunday: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:22-27)

We don’t even have to pray on our own strength! Nothing we do as Christ-followers needs to be done alone. God is with us in all of it, all the time, or wants to be. And how do we experience God with us in it all, all of the time? Through the Spirit of the Father and of the Son – the Holy Spirit of God.

No comments:

Post a Comment