Not Strong Enough
I try to welcome the Holy Spirit every morning when I wake up. I try to speak some Scriptures over myself and try to get close to the Lord right away. The flesh wants to stay in bed, wants to shuffle around for a few hours before "waking up," but the Lord wants us to connect with Him right away (even while we sleep, Ps. 16:7)
Sometimes the Lord surprises me. "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jer. 29:13) Remember, a few weeks ago I felt the inspiration come to me to make a bitter cup of coffee. The Lord expanded on this, showing me an in-depth teaching
about Jonah, and disobedience to God's calling. See, "For the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance." (Rom. 11:29) He doesn't change His mind about a person's call- each person is made for something in particular.
Yet, we are all made to be like Jesus- to walk in His image and likeness and subdue the earth. This was made known from the beginning. (Gen. 1:26-26) We are all called to be holy (God's image and likeness) and to bring many souls into His Kingdom (subdue the earth). How we do this is our specific calling.
This morning, I felt the inspiration to make a weak cup of coffee. It's French Vanilla, so it tastes good no matter what...but no one likes a weak cup of coffee. You can mostly taste the cream. It wakes you up, but it takes twice as much coffee to do so. The inspiration came with it that we are not strong enough.
Surely, Jesus said He would spit out of His mouth those that are lukewarm. (Rev. 3:16) Yet, this weak cup of coffee was still piping hot. It was not lukewarm, only weak. Paul also said that it's good to be weak- then He can be strong. (1 Cor. 12:10) John the Baptist said, "He must increase, I must decrease." (John 3:30) Interestingly enough, both of these Scriptures, in context are placed in passages regarding the gift, or gifts of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, humility is an essential part of flowing in the gifts of the Spirit for ministry.
Being weak is a good thing, when it comes to humility- allowing the Lord to shine through us, and not taking any glory or ownership of the ministry for ourselves. This goes with business, and all areas of life...except in prayer. In prayer, we should not be weak, but be strong.
God is always trying to weaken our flesh- this is what happens in fasting, for example. He allows situations to humble people who are prideful. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (Jam. 4:6)
He Wants Us to be Weak, to Rely on Him in Ministry, But in Prayer He Wants Us to Be Strong
I remember the first time I learned about prayer power. I was doing daily praise and worship (leading, or in my own devotion), and trying to read a daily Bible chapter. This is what I was taught when I first came to the Lord in a deeper way. I had the gift of tongues, but I only used it during the Mass (under my breath) and in a prayer group setting- when other people were praying or singing in tongues.
Two things I didn't realize, which would change my life completely. 1) Prayer tongues brings prayer power, and 2) Bible reading is not enough; for prayer power, one has to really meditate on what God is saying to me, personally.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says "Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory." (2639) One could say, therefore, that praise is the highest form of prayer- since it is totally focused on God, and not on self. It is the most common prayer form during the Holy Mass. This is not to say the prayer of petition, for example, is impure or unnecessary. Petitions are an important part of the Mass. Yet, they are not spoken until so much praise, and then the Word of God is read and proclaimed by the priest or deacon.
Why is this? Praise opens the spiritual ears to hear by taking the focus off of ourselves and turning towards God. It is also where God starts to come forth in His presence- Scripture says "But thou dwellest in the holy place, the praise of Israel." (Ps. 22:3) Praise is where we meet God, and feel and experience His presence.
If the Holy Mass, and the Scriptures teach us the importance of praise, should we not incorporate more praise into our daily prayer lives? Praise brings His presence. Yet, even this will not make us as strong as we could be.
Praying in tongues will actually focus us totally on the Lord from the heart, but it will also bring us an inner strength, a prayer power. With all the evil that we encounter in the world each day, don't we need more power from the Lord? This is where we are emptied of self, and commune with the Holy Spirit. This is why Fr. Robert Faricy, SJ qualified praying in tongues as contemplative prayer- prayer of quiet union with the Lord. (The Contemplative Way of Prayer: Deepening Your Life with God, 1986).
Fr. Fernando said that when he visited Pope Francis, the Pope encouraged him to continue his healing ministry, and they prayed together in tongues for two hours! Wow. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, prays in tongues every morning. So does Dr. Scott Hahn, preeminent Catholic author, speaker and teacher in Steubenville. He attributes his enormous success to the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues.
John the Baptist said, "He must increase, I must decrease," with regards to his ministry. He readily admitted that he was not the Christ, but Jesus was the Lamb of God. But, he also said, "He that is coming after me with baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." (Luke 3:16) Jesus spoke of the Power of God and the Holy Spirit as one. (cf. Mk. 14:62; Acts 1:8)
He said, "But you shall receive the POWER of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8, emphasis mine) We cannot do the work we need to do, to bring souls into the Kingdom of God, so that they avoid Hell, without the power of the Holy Spirit. We access the power of the Holy Spirit through praise and worship, praying in tongues, and daily Scripture reading. This gives life and opens our hearts to receive all the graces we can from the sacraments. The sacraments should not comprise our daily prayer lives; our daily prayer lives should prepare us for the sacraments. There is a reason that each sacrament includes calling on the Holy Spirit, and a proclamation of the Word.
This power begins with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. More on this to follow.
As we journey from the Resurrection of Jesus, to Ascension and Pentecost, let us begin to desire, and pray for more power from the Holy Spirit, to change our lives and those we are called to minister to.
In Christ Jesus,
Dan Devine, M. Div.
For a deeper walk with Jesus: https://www.heartwoheartministries.org/prayers