It is important to see hope as something that makes a difference in our daily lives. Among the things hope affects are discouragement and depression. Most of us have experienced depression from time to time. Some of my heroes dealt with personal disconsolation. Among them Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great nineteenth century pulpiteer. On several occasions as thousands who came to hear him on a Sunday morning sang hymns and waited for him to come to the pulpit, the great preacher wouldn't appear. Finally, his deacons would go and knock on his study door. “Dr Spurgeon, you must come out. It is time for you to preach.” He would answer, “I can’t.” And the deacons would take up an offering and send him for several weeks on the French Riviera.
Depression can have a terrible hold on our lives. I am no exception to that, but it was not a major problem for most of my life. However, depression is a side effect of some of my cancer treatments. And I have had to learn to break out of the gloom. I have not always been successful, but I believe that what I have learned about this from Scripture will be helpful to many people. Psalm 42 is a great place to start. The psalm concludes with these words.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.”
Many of you are familiar with a gospel song that comes from Psalm 42, Why So Downcast O My Soul, by Marty Nystrom. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vA-S_0LcRWs Listening to this music always lifts my heart. Psalm 42 calls us to put our hope in God. Let me point out some means of putting our hope in God.
Praise is a major theme of the Psalms from beginning to end. The Hebrew people sang these songs in wonderful worship. You may be familiar with the story from the writings of Josephus about Alexander the Great ascending the Temple Mount on his white charger prepared to destroy the city. But as he did he saw the people dressed in white ropes singing the Songs of Ascent as they worshipped and prayed for the Lord to spare their city. Josephus says Alexander got off his horse and bowed with them in worship.
Praising God will certainly be counterintuitive to you if you are suffering from depression. But that is the very first thing you need to do to break depression's hold. Another gospel song that declares this truth is Praise The Lord, made popular by The Imperials https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfTQg9whI-s . The lyrics read,
“For the chains that seem to bind you
Serve only to remind you
That they drop powerless behind you.
When you praise Him.”
Praise is an act of the will. You can praise God even when you are feeling down.
Psalm 42 begins as the heart cry of someone who feels far from God. But in verse 4 the psalmist remembers glorious worship he has been part of in the past. Remembering is crucial to walking with Christ. We need to remind ourselves of what we know about God. We need to remind ourselves who God is. We need to remember what He has done for us. Remember His promises. In Psalm 42 we are called to remind ourselves of worship when we did feel like worshipping. Have you ever thought about this? When your heart is stirred as never before in worship, you are making memories that God can use to break depression when you are plagued with it?
- Talking to Ourselves
In verse 5 of Psalm 42, as in the final verse, the psalmist talks to his own soul. “Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Put your hope in God.” The world, the flesh, and the devil will speak constantly to your heart. To counter those words you need to talk to yourself. You need to tell yourself to hope in God.
- Corporate Worship
Psalm 42 speaks of the joy of corporate worship. Ephesians 5:18-20 relates worshipping together to the filling of the Holy Spirit. I seldom think of the filling of the Spirit in these terms. But my idea that the filling of the Holy Spirit is something that only happens to individuals relates to a major American heresy. We think of spiritual growth, and service, and devotion as things we do alone. But we are filled with the Holy Spirit in communion with the family of God.
- Listen to God
Listening to God is another important tool in overcoming depression. I do not mean simply remembering precious things God has told me in the past. I am also talking about actively hearing His voice in the present. I do several things to hear God’s voice. First, I listen to great preaching. I thank God for the technology that brings me teaching and preaching by great preachers like Rick Warren, N.T. Wright, Michael Ramsden, Ravi Zacharias, Tim Keller, and the list goes on.
It is also important to listen directly to God in His word. God regularly speaks to His children in Scripture. And when I memorize a verse or a passage, I store God's word in my mind for Him to speak to me again and again.
I need to list meditation as a separate discipline here. When we spend time thinking about God's character, promises, directives, and assurances, He plants those things deep into our souls. In Psalm 119 David said he hid God’s word in his heart that he might not sin. God changes our character as we meditate on His truth. God will use this to transform our lives through the renewing of our minds. And breaking depression requires new thinking.
In our modern world we seldom think of rest as a spiritual discipline. However in Genesis 2:3 the Bible says God sanctified the Sabbath. Rest is Holy. When Elijah was discouraged and exhausted in 1 Kings 19, God gave him food, and He gave him rest.
I indicated earlier that some of my malaise has physical causes. I do not believe you have to have cancer for this to be the case. One of the physical and spiritual causes of depression is lack of sleep. I can devote time to rest. That may mean putting my cell phone out of reach, or even closing the computer, or turning off the TV at night.
Psalm 127:2 has been a favorite of mine for a long time. It says God gives his beloved sleep.
I had a chemotherapy treatment today. I often can’t sleep at all the first night after chemo. I can spend my wakeful hours in God’s word. And I can pray for my family and other prayer lists. But I also ask God to help me sleep.
Christian Fellowship is also an important tool for getting our minds off our own concerns. This can be difficult because when you are depressed you do not wish to be around people. But it is important to remember that we need one another in the family of God. Loving them and being with them is a blessing.
Giving will lift your spirits. In Acts 20:35 we are reminded that Jesus told us “It is more blessed to give than it is to receive. Giving someone else a gift brings more joy than receiving. This is especially true when your giving is being stretched by needs that God shows you. I am aware many of us no longer believe this. You have to put it into practice to realize how great this blessing is.
- Praying for Others
Praying for other people is an important discipline for our spiritual lives. And it is an important means of getting our eyes off our own feelings. Several days ago I was feeling particularly down. I had gone with my wife to a large grocery store with a coffee shop. While she shopped I set outside the coffee bar and tried to pray, not only for the people sitting at other tables, but for people entering and leaving the store. I cannot think of anything I've done in a long time that made me feel better.
Obedience is a crucial means of lifting our spirits. In Luke 16 Jesus told a parable about being faithful in small things. When you are down it is good to look for some small thing you can do to obey God. When we stand before God, we will will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” But we can already hear Him whispering those words into our hearts as we obey even small things He has told us to do.
- Giving Thanks
Finally, I believe the most powerful tool for breaking depression may be saying, “Thank you.” Thanking God is at the heart of this. I occasionally try to devote and entire day to giving thanks that God is working in the lives of people I meet, that he is present in my life, that he is worthy of my praise.
It is also good to formally thank other people for things they have done for us. It is worth sending someone a card or going to the trouble of writing a letter to say “Thank you,” to someone who has blessed you.
I know I have given you a long list. But small measures are seldom enough to break the hold of moods. I recommend that you print out this list, and try to do most, if not all of these things. I do not want you to feel guilty because this is too much. But I do encourage you to work hard to break the hold of depression. Depression protects itself by keeping you from wanting to be freed from it. Your depression itself will fight anything you do to break it. Pray that God will change your desires and behavior as you ask Him to deliver you from depression.
I fear many Christians have the notion that we are saved by grace, but we are trained for righteousness by legalism. This is a serious mistake for Christians and it misses one of the most wonderful truths of scripture. In Titus Chapter 2 Paul tells us the grace of God trains us for Godly living. Look with me at these verses.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
Let me point out for you several ways that God uses His grace to train us to live Godly lives.
First, We Are Trained In The Gratitude of Grace.
We do not develop self control and godliness so we will be saved. We obey God out of gratitude that He has already saved us. This gratitude brings great devotion. “Look what He has done for me!” It also produces humility in us that is foundational to a changed life. And focusing on His grace frees us defensiveness about our sin. Our sins were paid for on the cross.
We Are Trained In The Hope of Grace.
We are like a bride being adorned for our bridegroom. We love Him. And we are preparing our hearts to be ushered into His presence. We desire God's grace to be worked into our lives more and more because we are looking forward to seeing Jesus face-to-face.
We Are Trained In The Transformation of Grace.
When we begin to follow Christ God brings about a radical change in our desires. But we still have habits of mind and behavior that must be changed on a deep level. Because the penalty for them has been paid we have freedom to deal with the root motivations of our pride, greed, lust, or whatever sin we would avoid dealing with if we were still being defensive. And God is planting more and more of His thinking and His holiness into our lives. The more we read His word, and live in fellowship with Him, the more like Him we become.
We Are Trained In The Fellowship of Grace.
God's Grace has appeared so that He might make us a people who are zealous for good works. We cannot do this, or be this, alone. We stand together. As we are united with Him by God's grace, we are united with others in the family. We love one another and encourage one another every day while it is still called today. (Hebrews 3:13)
Do you know the central teaching of Scripture? It can be found in every book of the Bible and brings it all together. It is the gospel. “For God so loved the world. . .” “That Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” That, “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.”
On the day of Pentecost Peter stood and explained what God was pouring out into the world and in Acts 2:22-24 Peter focused everything on the gospel.
Men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
It is important to understand that Peter did not present the gospel as an abstract concept.
Look at Peter’s words. “Hear these words, ‘Jesus of Nazareth!’”
Jesus is the gospel. If you have never come to know Jesus Christ personally, you need to understand that Jesus Himself is reaching out to you in His incomparable love. In John 14:6 Jesus said He was the way, the truth, and the life. 1 John 5:20 tells us He is eternal life.
You who are believers need to understand that the gospel is not something you will ever grow beyond. The privilege of knowing Jesus is the wonderful foundation of everything you will ever learn, or need, or enjoy in Christ. Let me point out just one narrow application of this truth. Do you know why the fellowship of the church is so wonderful? It is because Jesus indwells us. You can see Jesus, you can hear His voice and feel His embrace when we get together in the church.
But there are many applications of the gospel in our lives. If we look at the fruit of the Spirit for example. Galatians 5:22-23 begins the list with love. “We love because He first loved us.” The next is joy. At the birth of Jesus the Angel told the shepherds he brought them “Good news of great joy!” Next comes peace. “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The list continues from patience through self-control. Each of these and every other facet of spiritual growth comes as we understand and apply the gospel to our lives. And the gospel is Jesus Christ. We do not believe in it. We believe in Him.
This and the next few entries in this blog come from a sermon I preached at Crosspoint Church in Reno, NV. You can find the recording on their website. http://crosspoint.org/index.php/2016-06-01-08-45-06/274-now-to-him-who-is-able-listen-carefully
Give praise that a new, local believer was able to share with a couple of family members in a celebration of Christ's birth, even though they are not yet aware of her decision to follow Jesus. Pray that the many who have heard the gospel story will receive and accept confirmation of its truth by revelation, signs, wonders, dreams or visions.
A young woman told her believing friend, "I need a new life." Please pray that she and many others will open their hearts to the Lord and be able to experience Him for who He truly is, and will find new life in Him.
As two men continue in study of the the Word, pray that their eyes will be open to its truth and they will desire to know more of Him. May they accept His gift of salvation and be witnesses for Him in their community.
Continue to pray for those lone believers who have no opportunity for communal worship, study, and fellowship. Pray that they will grow stronger in faith and trust in the Lord. Pray that they will find ways to safely share their faith with others and become His church where it is not yet established.
A couple of university students are on a spiritual journey together seeking to know more about Jesus. Pray that nothing will prevent them from continuing this journey and surrendering to Him as Lord and Savior.
Please pray for "Jennifer" whom we have prayed for in the past. She is the local woman who is suffering from the effects of black magic. The good news is that her believing friends continue to love her and share the gospel with her. The bad news is that she has been moving away from them recently. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to work in her life, bringing her back to her friends so that the light of Christ would continue to shine in her dark life. Pray that the Father would speak to her through the Bible which she has access to and also through dreams of Christ which she has had in the past. Let's continue to pray for her salvation!
Also pray for a local man in the same country who is also hearing a lot of the gospel from a believer. Both of these locals need the Holy Spirit to break through and change their hearts and minds completely. Pray that God would do so.
I preached Sunday for the first time in over a year. I have some serious health problems and I was exhausted, really before I finished the sermon. When we got home I was thinking with a critical mind about my sermon when my wife asked me if I thought God was pleased with the service. It took me some time to bring my mind into the right perspective. To be honest I needed to sleep like Elijah in the cave before I could properly answer the question. Later in the evening, still very tired although I had slept, I remembered something I said as I began to preach. “God loves us. He has our picture on His refrigerator.” Some of you, like much of the gathered worshippers, are too young to know what I was talking about. But those of you who have grandchildren, knew immediately.
God was thrilled with the service. He loved the music. Most of the people were blessed as well. Our Lord was present in the fellowship. And He spoke through the Scriptures and preaching, despite the weakness of the preacher. He is God, and He still loves His church.
Have you ever been in a dynamic prayer meeting, a heart stirring, life changing, earth shaking prayer meeting? I know of a number of such prayer meetings in history, some even in my own lifetime. And there are several prayer meetings in the book of Acts that I would have given anything to be part of. Fortunately the Holy Spirit inspired them and Luke communicated them to us in such a way that you can almost step into them simply by reading the book of Acts.
We see one of those prayer meetings in the 4th chapter. Peter and John have been released from arrest by the Sanhedrin where they were beaten and warned not to speak again in the name of Jesus. When they finished reporting, the prayer meeting erupted. We read beginning from Acts 4:24.
“When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. ‘Sovereign Lord,’ they said, ‘you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:’
“‘Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord
and against his anointed one.’
Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God Boldly.”
The Bible says they raised their voices together and prayed this long prayer. Now tell me, how do you think they did that? Did they all have it memorized so they could quote it like The Lord's Prayer? I think this is what happened. John said ‘Sovereign Lord!’ With that Peter said, 'You made the heavens!’ James said, ‘And the Sea!’ Bartholomew added, ‘and everything in them!’ As a 10 year old girl Mary the wife of Clopas had memorized some of the Psalms to sing as she did her chores. As they prayed David’s words filled her heart and she began to pray them. And one at a time the believers prayed off one another’s prayers.
We could pray the same way. Notice 3 crucial things we can see in this prayer and as we pray together ourselves.
First, we see the Fellowship of praying together. They were binding their hearts together in prayer. The person who is nervous can listen to someone else and something will come to her mind or his mind. In fact, someone who has never prayed can be taught to pray by being part of this body of Prayer. To do that everybody has to be paying attention to one another. Have you ever been in a prayer meeting and while others were praying you were thinking about what you were going to say? I have. And I'm ashamed of it. God will stir your heart with the prayers of others. When you pray together you can come into a deep bond of love and fellowship.
And we can see the Faith of praying together. Not only do you trust God in praying together but you have to have faith in God who is working in other people. They encouraged one another's faith as they prayed off each other and really prayed one prayer together. If you think you're the only one that has a word from God or knows how to pray to God you'll miss out on this kind of praying. When you're praying together you can trust Holy Spirit working in the whole group.
Finally this passage shows dramatically the Effect of praying together. When they got through praying the place where they prayed was shaken and they all began to speak the word of God with boldness. There is something very symbolic about this. That doesn’t mean it didn't happen. In fact this is how God revealed himself all through history. There was something symbolic about God coming down in the fire to Moses at the bush. But it was much more powerful symbolism because it really happened. When the Jordan River dammed itself so Joshua could lead the children of Israel across it was symbolic, but it was powerful symbolism because it really happened. They piled Stones up to remind future generations of what God did. When God shook that place and even the shyest person spoke the word of God boldly, they knew God was at work. And the symbolism of that prayer meeting continues to this day as God works mightily when His people pray together.
A group of near culture believers who have moved to the Arabian Peninsula for work have a passion to share and are meeting regularly to encourage each other as they ask the Father for opportunities to share and disciple. Please pray that the Lord will move mightily in and through them.
A country with very few indigenous believers is slowly beginning to see some fruit, as those who have begun to follow Jesus are giving testimony to their friends and family. Give praise for these bold ones and pray that they will continue to share with great joy, continued boldness, and great wisdom. Pray that many will be added to the Kingdom.
Even after seeing the truth in the Word and realizing that Jesus is so much more than just a prophet, it is difficult for someone from the Muslim faith to embrace the Gospel as the way to God. A young woman exclaimed, "How could I ever believe that the Quran is not from Allah?" Pray that the beloved people of the Arabian Peninsula will be freed from the chains that bind them to falsehood. Pray that they will be given faith by the Holy Spirit to repent and confess that Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life.
A woman with stage 4 cancer is reading the Word with her mother. May they receive the faith to embrace the truth of the Good News and surrender their lives to Jesus. Pray also for divine healing in accordance with His will and for His glory.
Sometimes God hands us a spiritual “Key:” a sign or token of our mastery of a gift we have or a role we play in the Kingdom of God. For example, you might realize, as I did one day, that worship is your key to the throne room, and that when you praise Him you find breakthrough, peace, and renewal. Our strategies for the future come from this place, and our function within His Kingdom is often tied to this key. When we “turn the key” by using this gifting, others are mysteriously drawn to us, and enter into the Presence of God along with us.
Have you ever thought about the benefits of giving thanks to God? There are many. I think the most prominent of them is simply closeness to God. We enter His gates with thanksgiving. We come into his presence in praise.
In Leviticus 7 Moses was told to institute a feast of thanksgiving. The barbeque was identified as a “fellowship offering of thanksgiving." We certainly enjoy fellowship with family and guests in our celebration of the Thanksgiving Holiday. If you are separated or estranged from family at Thanksgiving, you will miss your loved ones more than the turkey and dressing. We fellowship around the Thanksgiving table, by the warmth of the fire or in front of the TV watching football or the Macy’s Parade. But the fellowship spoken of in Leviticus 7 was with God Himself. The King James Bible translates it as a “peace offering.” The feast was to initiate and celebrate peaceful fellowship with God.
As we gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving, we also draw near to the person of God to whom with give thanks. It is fellowship with Him that blesses our Thanksgiving table and the fellowship with one another around it.
But does God have a preference whether we pray aloud or silently?
In Matthew 6, Jesus gives us a model to pray by: (verses 9-13)
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
He doesn't specify if God prefers us to worship, confess, petition, and thank God aloud or silently. He simply gives us this model to shape how we pray when we pray.
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
In verses 25-26 we see the first word-for-word recorded prayer of Jesus in Matthew's account- and it reveals praise and worship-based prayer to the Father. This aligns perfectly with the beginning of Jesus' model prayer in Matthew 6:9. We also see Jesus instruct His followers (including you and me) to align ourselves (our hearts, minds, and souls) with Him by taking His yoke upon ourselves and learning from Him. Prayer is one vital part of the yoke we should take upon ourselves- if we haven't already done so! He promises that we'll find rest for our souls therein.
He (the LORD) says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” - Psalm 46:10
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
From this passage, it appears Jesus prayed aloud (at least the portion he prayed three times). Someone present must have recorded His words before they fell asleep, or the Holy Spirit later shared the words Jesus prayed with Matthew following Jesus' resurrection.
Benefits of Praying Silently
Praying silently, for many, offers the ability to pray more quickly than by verbalizing prayer. Our thoughts move faster than our voices, therefore, it's possible to share one's thoughts more quickly with God when praying silently than when speaking our prayer(s).
Praying aloud can bring instant encouragement to others near the one praying aloud. If someone requests prayer, often the best time to pray is at the very moment while the praying person is in the presence of the one requesting prayer. Spoken prayer, in this situation, not only models prayer to the one requesting, but often brings instant hope, encouragement, or even joy, to the one burdened or requesting prayer.
How Should We Pray?
Lord, we love and praise you. You've provided the way to directly come before the Father and speak with Him. Thank you for prayer! Continue to teach us to pray each day- and by your Spirit, lead us in how you'd have us pray moment-by-moment. We desire to reflect your glory back to you and to others you place around us. Help us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on you, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Have your way in and through us today- for your glory alone.
In Jesus' name, Amen.
Join us February 17-19 in the Tampa Bay area for a national gathering of pastors and leaders as we collectively seek God and His blessing on our lives and churches.
This corporate, multiple-day experience of unscripted prayer, worship and Scripture will be conducted in the Prayer Summit format. Our time will be led by Daniel Henderson (National Director ofThe 6:4 Fellowship) and Dennis Fuqua (Director of International Renewal Ministries). Daniel and Dennis have collectively led hundreds of Prayer Summit experiences for leadership teams, pastors' fellowships, and entire congregations.
MAXIMIZE YOUR EXPERIENCE BY BRINGING A TEAM FROM YOUR STAFF OR CONGREGATION!
JOIN US AND YOU WILL RECEIVE:
- Encouragement and fellowship with like-minded pastors
- Refreshment in God's presence through prayer
- Equipping in prayer leadership that you can take back to your church
- Discounts for 6:4 Fellowship members and spouses!
Visit www.64fellowship.com/prayersummit for more details and schedule.
“Whosoever walks toward God one cubit, God runs toward him twain.”
Thinking of God as a harsh judge out to nail us for our misdemeanors is not conducive to prayer.
Considering God a Counselor and Friend with our best interests in mind encourages prayer.
Obsession with dutiful, meticulous adherence to a set of religious rules stifles prayer.
Delight with the privilege and honor of a relationship with God enhances prayer.
Parting company with God inevitably breaks our heart and ruins our day.
Steadily walking with God blesses our heart and enriches our day.
A mere mechanical relationship with God is superficial.
A heartfelt relationship with God is transformative.
Keeping distant from God leads to catastrophe.
Staying near God’s heart is a celebration.
“Enoch walked with God…”
Genesis 5:24 KJV
[Reflections on Day 4 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity]
Johnny R. Almond
Pastor, Colonial Beach Baptist Church, Virginia
Book available through your local bookseller or preferred on-line retailer.
“I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive…. But you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:16).
We all want fellowship. We feel sad when we get lonely. We all want relationship with God, but how many of us know how to really fellowship with the Holy Spirit? Multitudes of believers never develop a relationship with the very one who dwells inside of them. So many of us feel like orphans all alone with no Father, no one to guide and help us through life.
The Holy Spirit wants our friendship! We are His temple (1 Cor. 3:9, 16-17; 6: 17, 19). He knows everything about everything.
He wants to reveal the deep things of God to us (1 Cor. 2:9). He wants to gives us His power and strength. A lady went to a jeweler to get her watch fixed. He disappeared and came back quickly with her watch running perfectly. She asked him, “How could you fix it in such a short time?” He told her that it only needed a small battery. All this time the lady had been trying to wind the watch. She didn’t know she only needed a battery to keep it running.
This is so much like the Christian life. Many times we do not realize the inner power that we have in the Holy Spirit. He can run everything in our life, but so often we think we have to take matters into our own hands. So we live a powerless life. The lack of reality, godliness, power, and fruit in our lives is due to unbelief and our lack of fellowship with the Holy Spirit. We need to go deeper in partnership with the Holy Spirit if we want to live powerful lives.
Many of us are living life with a dead battery. We feel dead inside. We must begin fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit. He will bring life to our hearts! He will show us the way to really live and find fulfilment.
How to Learn to Fellowship with the Holy Spirit
Fellowship with the Holy Spirit is not complicated. It’s all about a two-way dialogue. We learn to share our hearts freely with the Spirit. We start the conversation, and He speaks back to us. But we must stay engaged. He wants our heart connection. Out of our abiding connection with the Holy Spirit will flow all the issues of life (love, joy, peace, etc.) or death (Proverbs 4:23, Song of Songs 4:12, 16; 5:1; 6:2, John 7:38).
Learn to linger in His presence without rushing. Speak affectionately, slowly, softly, and briefly with short phrases to Him. Pause and listen to His still, small voice. Journal your thoughts and what you believe He is saying to you.
One way to enhance your fellowship with the Holy Spirit is by using these 5 practical phrases using the acrostic T-R-U-S-T.
- T - Thank you - Thank the Holy Spirit for His indwelling presence. We approach God through thanksgiving (Psalm 100:1-5). Pray, “Thank you Holy Spirit for your presence in me, for your guidance, etc. I love your leadership…”
- R - Release revelation - Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you His heart and open your eyes to the realm of His glory. Ephesians 1:17-19 is a great prayer to pray. Pray, “Holy Spirit, open my eyes to see the realm of God’s glory. Open the eyes of my understanding, give me the spirit of wisdom and understanding, etc.”
- U - Use me - Ask the Holy Spirit to use you more and more. Put your sails up and expect Him to use you every day. Pray, “Thank you Holy Spirit for releasing your power and gifts through my life. Use me fully for your glory…”
- S - Strengthen me - Ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen your mind, will, and emotions with His divine might so that you may contain more of His wisdom, fruit, and gifts. See Ephesians 3:16. Pray, “Thank you Holy Spirit for your love, patience, joy, etc. Increase my capacity to contain more of your wisdom, gifts, and fruit…”
- T - Teach me - Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you about God’s Word and ways. Ask Him to manifest His leadership in every area of your life. He will order your steps and give you new and creative ideas. See John 14:26 and 16:13. Pray, “Holy Spirit let me see what you see and feel what you feel. Release it with power through my life…”
The river that flows from the throne of God is the Spirit. Jesus said that out of your innermost being shall flow rivers of living water (John 7:38). The Bible describes 5 facets of the Holy Spirit’s activity in us as light, wind, fire, wine, and a river. In John 3:8 and Acts 2:2, the Spirit is described as the sound of a violent, rushing wind. My husband, Norm, is from Buffalo, New York where Niagara Falls is located. We often visit the falls and are always amazed at that violent, gushing waterfall. It is powerful and sounds like the violent, rushing wind. Look at the activity of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we fellowship with Him:
- Bright Light - gives life (John 1:4; 8:12), purifies, unifies, empowers (1 John 1:5-7), illuminates mind with revelation, truth, and direction (Psalm 43:3; Luke 12:35-36; John 8:32; 2 Cor. 4:4, 6), and overcomes the works of darkness (John 1:4-5; 3:19-21; Acts 26:18; 2 Cor. 4:3-6; James 1:7).
- Mighty Wind - gives divine strength, stirs hunger, imparts desire (Phil. 2:13), releases fresh creativity (John 3:8), and inspires, directs, and empowers the Church (Acts 2:2-4; 8:26-40).
- Consuming Fire - energizes (Acts 2:4), tenderizes our hearts, devours that which hinders love (Hebrews 12:29, Luke 24:32, John 5:35), and imparts God’s jealous affection for us (Deut. 4:24; Psalm 79:5; Song of Songs 8:6; Ezek. 23:25; 38:19; Zeph. 1:18; 3:8).
- New Wine - awakens the sleeping and revives (Song of Songs 7:9), imparts the Father’s love (Song of Songs 2:4-5), strengthens heart, refreshes soul (Isa. 28:12), releases joy and thanksgiving (Mt. 9:17; Mk. 2:22; Lk. 5:37-38; Acts 2:13; 15; Eph. 5:18-19).
- Flowing River - invigorates, rejuvenates, restores, and satisfies the soul (John 7:37-39).
An author named Jamie Buckingham visited a dam on the Columbia River. He thought that the water spilling over the top gave the dam its’ power, but he was absolutely wrong. That was only the froth. The turbines and generators deep within transformed the power of tons and tons of water into electricity. All of this was happening quietly and without notice deep within.
In the same way, it is the Holy Spirit who is working deep within each of our lives. He gives us the power. It isn’t the flashy froth like in this dam, but it is His deep work in our lives that gives us real spiritual power and makes us like a river of living water.
Without the Holy Spirit, we can do nothing. Our life depends on it. We must know His power!
“It must be perfectly obvious to anyone that what the whole church needs from top to bottom is a deeper conversion, a profounder experience of the power of the Holy Spirit.” Samuel Shoemaker
The Holy Spirit wants to fellowship with us in life in a deeper dimension than we have ever experienced or dreamed possible. He wants to have His strength and power operating within us—He wants to give us His wisdom—He wants to participate in everything we are doing. When we pray, He wants to pray with us and through us. He wants to transform everything that we do with His glorious power. We must learn to fellowship with the Holy Spirit every day in order to go deeper in our prayer lives. This is an absolute necessity.
“This is more than the Spirit with a portion of Christ’s influence and power. This is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the glorified Jesus in His exaltation and power, coming to us as the Spirit of the indwelling Jesus, revealing the Son and the Father within us (John 14:16-23). This Spirit cannot simply be the Spirit of our hours of prayer. It must be the Spirit of our whole lives and walks, glorifying Jesus in us by revealing the completeness of His work and making us wholly one with Him and like Him. Then we can pray in His name, because we are truly one with Him. Then we have the immediate access to the Father of which Jesus said, “I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you” (John 16:26). Andrew Murray
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