It’s hard to say who I fell in love with first, God or Jesus, but I think God probably just inches ahead Jesus. I still remember the awe of learning about God’s unceasing efforts and Jesus’ total sacrifice, all for love of me.
After accepting this, accepting them, I spent many late night bible studies praising and amen-ing their love, agreeing wholeheartedly, literally with a heart that just sang “YES!”, with the Bible passages we were studying…
Except for the passages on the Holy Spirit. With those, there was no singing, no recognition of elemental truth running through my entire body. To be honest, the response to those was more “Meh…”, where suddenly all I was conscious of was how very tired I really was, and now might be a good time to rest those eyelids just for a second or two…
In truth, I would get vaguely irritated by those passages, because I just didn’t get them. What’s the big deal anyway? Clearly God and Jesus were the key players; the Holy Spirit was more along the lines of George or Ringo. Sure, they were part of the Beatles, but you couldn’t HAVE the Beatles without Paul and John. Would anyone even know if George got replaced?? (Apologies to Harrison fans…if there are any…)
Now I have to admit that this general line of thinking had stuck with me a good long while, especially as I never experienced tongues of flame descending on me or miraculous powers of any sort. Think I categorised the Spirit as one of those mysteries that I will never understand. I got over those vague feelings of irritation and just reconciled myself to running over my shopping list or organising my weekly schedule whenever talks centered around him.
But then something happened. I was in my car on the way to Ikea one day. I was on my own, no good music was on the radio, so I decided I might as well pass the time praying. And as I prayed, I felt a rising in me, almost as if I would burst out of the confines of my body. No other way to really explain it. I was so filled with euphoria and joy, I was crying as I whizzed along the M50, praying away. It was as if I were at a great revival retreat, or one of those fantastic Ignite worship sessions, the feeling of such community and oneness and greatness…but I was on my own. And yet I wasn’t. It was as if someone was praying along, praising with me.
That was a pivotal moment for me, the first that I now recognise as praying “in the Spirit”.
And it was a joyous, wonderful prayer, one I will always be thankful for and will always remember. It marks the change in my attitude towards prayer and the Holy Spirit. Before, I considered one a duty and one a mystery. Now, they have both become vital, intimate, “real” components of my faith.
Since that car drive, there have other wonderful times of prayer and communion with the Spirit. But there have been other times, prayers filled with questioning, lack of understanding, maybe even hopelessness or anger. And in those times, I have relied on and been so thankful for that amazing truth in Romans 8:26:
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
Other versions say “yearnings that can find no words”, “Inexpressible groanings”, and The Message says this:
“He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He…keeps us present before God.”
So when I am at a loss for words, it’s ok, when I am so filled with despair that all I can do is sigh or ache, the Spirit has my back. He’s speaking to God on my behalf, eloquently translating everything I am experiencing…and keeps doing so even when I have stopped. He keeps me present before God.
George? Ringo? No way, Jose. But I will end on some familiar words…
“What do I do when my love is away?
Does it worry you to be alone?
How do I feel by the end of the day?
Are you sad because you’re on your own?
No I get by with a little help from my Friend.”