The Christian life is a supernatural life! The risen Christ declared to His disciples, “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Jesus knew their need. Without the filling of the Holy Spirit, how is a holy life of faithfulness to Christ possible?
During my 10 years serving as the Chaplain at Virginia Wesleyan University I met dozens of students who loved God, but privately told me they were struggling to follow Christ. Some said they thought they were doing it wrong or that something was missing. I listened, and asked a lot of questions that all led to this final question, “Have you ever asked God to fill you with His Spirit?” At first, I was surprised that they would say, “No.”
After numerous encounters, I realized that so many young Christians haven’t been taught well about the Holy Spirit. I would then show them this passage, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11:11-13)!
I would then ask if they wanted to ask God for the Holy Spirit, as Jesus invites us to do. It was a joy to pray with them and over them for the Holy Spirit to fill them.
I’ve been studying Philip’s story in scripture as he is the only named evangelist in the
New Testament (Acts 21:8). Somehow, I missed something very important in the book of Acts. Philip is preaching and people are being healed and delivered from unclean spirits in Samaria, “But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12).
Then, this fascinating passage follows, “When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit had not
yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit" (Acts 8:14-17). It seems a little confusing, but they clearly are “new believers” in Christ. Paul writes, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). We also see in Acts 8:17 quoted above that, there needed to be a follow up with the laying on of hands. It was after this that “they received the Holy Spirit.”
I believe one of the biggest frustrations and greatest hindrances to the advancement of the
Gospel is people trying to live the Christian life in their own efforts. As we evaluate our walk with God, and the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives, I believe these two principles can be of great help.
1. Sometimes the question should be, "How much of you does the Holy Spirit have?" rather than, “How much of the Holy Spirit do you have?"
2. Just as you are asking to be filled with the Holy Spirit, be sincere about asking to be emptied of sin and idols.
I encourage you to find some time alone with God and open yourself to Christ, to the Word of God and to the Spirit of God. This is a favorite prayer I’ve found to use when asking to be filled.
A Prayer for Quiet Time - Bishop of Bloemfontein, South Africa
This prayer should be said slowly or brooded over: or thought and felt.
O Holy Spirit of God –
Come into my heart and fill me:
I open the windows of my soul to let Thee in.
I surrender my whole life to Thee:
Come and possess me, fill me with light and truth.
I offer to Thee the one thing I really possess,
My capacity for being filled by Thee,
Of myself I am an empty vessel.
Fill me so that I may live the life of the Spirit, the life of Truth and Goodness,
The life of Beauty and Love.
The life of Wisdom and Strength.
And guide me today in all things;
Guide me to the people I should meet or help: to the circumstances in which I can best
serve Thee: Whether by my actions or my sufferings.
But, above all, make Christ to be formed in me, that I may dethrone self in my heart and
make Him King: So that He is in me, and I in Him today and forever. Amen