This Sunday, we will return to our sermon series on Life with the Spirit. Since the Pentecost, we have been looking at various texts in the book of Acts about how the presence of the Holy Spirit changed the early church.
The Church in the modern age has an emphasis on following rules of the Church, not listening to the Spirit of God; we have an institutional religion, not Spirit-led faith. This is especially true when it comes to understanding prayer.
When I was in college, the leadership of various campus ministries taught me that spiritual prayers were praying according to formulas. Depending on which group we were in, there were small differences, but basically, they were the same. Prayer is trust in others’ formulas of words and not opening yourself to be led by the Spirit.
The book of Acts shows that the disciples came to trust in the power of the Holy Spirit within them, and they were able to do amazing things. They found the strength to overcome their fears and shared their faith in ways that impacted those who listened to them. They simply told their stories, and others believed them and also believed in Jesus.
While the disciples were bringing a new message, we are living out an old message. While the disciples shared about the new presence of God in their midst, we are telling people about something that happened two thousand years ago and is still happening today. The disciples had to explain their new beliefs and how the Spirit enables them to believe and accomplish great things. We do not have to convince anyone of the power of the Holy Spirit. However, we need to show the people the reality of the Spirit through our lives and acts of faith. The question is, how is this done? The short answer is prayer.
We have to remember that prayer is living into our new life in the Spirit and not asking God for “things.” While many approach prayer like it is nothing more than reading your Christmas list to God, the scriptures teach that it is about us living into our prayers. When the High Priest made an offering on behalf of the people in the temple in biblical times, it is not to ask for things but was an act of faith in recognition of the human need for divine love. The idea of cleansing then provided the freedom to live out their faith in their everyday lives.
I believe that we often miss out on the greatest blessings of prayers because we do not live into prayers and live out the prayers so the Holy Spirit could do amazing things through us. Let us pray with the power of the Spirit and live out the power of God within us.