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Praying for the Holy Spirit
"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the holy Spirit to them that ask him." Luke 11:13
Although "all things are by the Son," yet here as everywhere he gives the glory and honor, as the fountain of blessing, to the Father. The entire work of redemption and reconciliation is the Father's work--through the Son. And our Lord declares that it is the Father's good pleasure that we should have more and more of his Spirit of holiness. He bids us seek for and ask for this, as the great supreme blessing. As for earthly blessings, our Redeemer tells us that our Heavenly Father knoweth what things we have need of--he knoweth better than we know what earthly blessings will be helpful, and which would be injurious to us. We need not, therefore, as do the unregenerate and the heathen, think of and pray for earthly blessings; but rather, as those who have come into the relationship of sons, and who have full confidence in the Father's provision, we may expect that he will give what is best, and we may rest ourselves content in that promise and faith.
The Heavenly Father is pleased to have us desire and ask for more and more of the holy Spirit--a disposition more and more fully in harmony with his Spirit: and all who thus desire and ask and seek it shall obtain their good desires; the Father will be pleased to so order the affairs of such that hindrances to the Spirit, whether in them or in their environment, shall be overcome, that his loving Spirit may abound in them--that they may be filled with the Spirit. But in this there is no suggestion of necessity for fresh baptisms of the holy Spirit: the baptism came at the beginning, and now all there remains to do is to open the sluices in every direction, so as to let the holy Spirit of love and truth penetrate into and permeate every action, word and thought of our beings. We need divine aid, the operation of the Lord's wisdom and providence, to show us what clogs the sluices and to help us to remove the obstructions.
The Spirit of holiness in abundance can only be received by those who earnestly desire it and seek it by prayer and effort. The mind or spirit of the world must be driven out of our hearts, in proportion as we would have them filled with the holy Spirit, mind, influence. Self-will must also give place. And because it is in proportion as we are emptied of all things else that we are ready to receive of his fulness, therefore the Lord would have us come into this condition of earnest desire for filling with his Spirit of holiness, that we may be willing and anxious to displace and eradicate every other contrary influence and will.
This evidently is the thought of the Apostle, in his prayer for the Church at Ephesus, that "Christ [the Spirit of Christ] may dwell in your hearts by faith [that figuratively he may sit as king, ruler, director of every thought, word and deed]; that ye being rooted and grounded in love [the holy Spirit or disposition] may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth and height, and to appreciate the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled with all the fulness of God." (Eph. 3:19) He who is filled with the Spirit of Christ, and with a full appreciation of the love which he manifested, will have the Father's Spirit in full measure.
Nothing in the scripture under examination can in any manner be construed to imply that the Heavenly Father would be pleased to have his children ask him for another God--a third person of a trinity of coequal Gods. Such a thought is repugnant to the passage and its connections: and those who entertain such an erroneous view must necessarily be blinded to that extent to the true beauty and force of this promise. It would be strange indeed if one member of a coequal trinity of Gods referred to another as able and willing to give the third as earthly parents give bread, fish and eggs to their children. (See preceding verses.) The entire passage is consistent only when the holy Spirit is properly understood to be the divine mind or influence bestowed variously for the comfort and spiritual upbuilding of God's children.
Our text institutes a comparison between kind earthly parents giving natural food to their children, and our kind heavenly Parent giving his holy Spirit to them that ask him. But as the earthly parent sets the food within the reach of his family, but does not force it upon them, so our heavenly Parent has set within the reach of his spiritual family the good provisions of his grace, but he does not force them upon us. We must hunger and thirst for them, we must seek for them, not doubtfully, but with faith respecting his willingness to give us good gifts. When, therefore, we pray for the holy Spirit, and to be filled with the Lord's Spirit, we are to look about us and find the provision which he has made for the answer to these prayers, which he has thus inspired and directed.
We find this provision in the Word of truth; but it is not enough to find where it is: if we desire to be filled we must eat; assuredly we must partake of the feast or we will not experience the satisfaction which the eating was designed to give. He who will not eat of a full table will be empty and starved, as truly as though there were no food. As the asking of a blessing upon the food will not fill us, but thereafter we must partake of it, so the possession of the Word of God, and the offering of our petition to be filled with the Spirit, will not suffice us; we must eat the Word of God, if we would derive his Spirit from it.
Our Master declared, "The words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are life" (John 6:63); and of all who are filled with the Spirit it is true, as spoken by the prophet, "Thy words were found and I did eat them." (Jer. 15:16; Rev. 10:9) It is absolutely useless for us to pray Lord, Lord, give us the Spirit, if we neglect the Word of truth which that Spirit has supplied for our fulfilling. If we merely pray for the Spirit and do not use the proper means to obtain the Spirit of truth, we will continue to be at most only "babes in Christ," seeking outward signs, in proof of relationship to the Lord, instead of the inward witness, through the Word of truth, which he has provided.
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