When I pray, I usually pray to Jesus.
“Why?” you ask. It’s because I can clearly see Jesus in my mind’s eye when I pray. I can see Him as a person with a personality, someone with whom I can relate. I’ve seen all the Jesus movies and have read the Gospel accounts in Scripture, so I can easily visualize Jesus the man, Jesus the person, Jesus as my friend, when I pray.
With God the Father, it gets a bit more difficult to form a mental picture of Him when I pray. In the Old Testament He’s revealed as fire and smoke and loud thunder and lightning flashing all around Mt. Sinai. He’s somewhat scary, but I pray to Him nonetheless. Why? Because in the New Testament Jesus calls Him Father and reveals a deeper, personal, more intimate side of the Father that was previously unknown. So for me as a father, I can comfortably pray to Him as my Father, the perfect Father, the only Father, as my Father in heaven (Matt. 6:9).
But when it comes to the Holy Spirit, things get even more murky. How can I visualize and relate to the Holy Spirit when I pray? When I think of Him I don’t view Him as a person like Jesus or the Father. Do you? He’s more like a gentle breeze or a soft breath or some power or force or energy emanating from the Father or the Son, as an extension of themselves. He’s something invisible or Someone I can’t see yet I’m fully aware of the effects of His presence. He’s much like the wind. I can hear and feel the wind blowing and I know it’s there and it’s powerful and uncontrollable and sometimes frightening, but I can’t see the wind with my eyes or hold the wind in my hands or touch the wind with my fingers.
So it is with the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, I never truly relate to the Holy Spirit in prayer. More often than not I find myself asking Him to give me power to pray to the Father and the Son. And when He does and I experience His presence in my prayers, I never thank Him for His presence. I thank the Father and the Son for giving me the “power” or “anointing” or “presence” of the Holy Spirit, like He’s some tangible, tradeable commodity, but I never thank the Holy Spirit for giving Himself to me.
And why is that?
Would the Holy Spirit Please Reveal Himself
Could it be I’ve eagerly embraced some false teachings about Him in the church I attend and the seminary from which I graduated? Or, maybe I’m just afraid of Him and what He may do in my life? Or, is it because I don’t want to end up like others who are self-proclaimed Holy Spirit fanatics and head off to “healing crusades” to be slain in the Spirit by some charlatan with a Rolex watch and a bad haircut?
Or, could it simply be I don’t know the Holy Spirit as well as I think I know Jesus and have denied, in my mind and in my theology, the reality of His personhood and His personality? Maybe I’ve made Him into a non-person, an entity, a thing. And by my lack of intimate knowledge of Him and my lack of desire to get to know Him more, I have relegated Him to the status of some second-class impersonal force coming from God and not as God Himself. He is the name of something I want from the Father, a power or force or energy, to do the will of God in my life, but I have not viewed Him as co-equal with the Father and the Son even though I theologically believe Him to be so in my mind and doctrine.
In other words, I want what the Holy Spirit has to give me. I want what He possesses. I want the gifts He has to bring, the gifts of the Spirit. And yet, sadly, at the same time, I don’t want the Giver of those very gifts. It’s like I tell Him, “Empty your pockets and put all you have on the table and walk away. I’m only interested in what you have to give me and not in who you are.”
And that just breaks my heart. Does it yours?
Who is the Holy Spirit to You?
Have you even felt the same about the Holy Spirit? Have you, maybe through misinformation or apathy or neglect or fear, treated Him as something less than God Himself? Have you, like me, disrespected the very One who lives inside us as the “Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance” in Him? (Eph. 1:13-14).
Have you ever thanked Him for the things He has done in your life? Or, like me, do you reserve your thanks for the Father and Son and treat the Spirit like an orphaned, second-place, also-ran?
If so, there’s so much we need to learn about the third Person in the Godhead. There’s so much Jesus wants us to know about Him. In fact, Jesus said it was better for us if He physically left this earth and returned to the Father (John 16:7). Why? Because if He did, He would send the One we ignore the most to be with us and in us forever (John 14:16). The Spirit of Truth. The Holy Spirit.
So join with me as we discover the personality and personhood of the God who lives inside us?
And just who is that God? It’s not the Father. He’s sitting on His throne in heaven. And it’s not Jesus. For He is now seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for us (Romans 8:34). No, the One who lives inside of us and guides and directs us is none other than the very One we choose to keep at a distance, in the safe-zone, at arms reach, and out of our personal space.
And His name is the Helper, the Comforter, the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit— God Himself.