I have not written a blog for a very long time. This is sad because it is a sign that I have not had much opportunity to reflect and think. However this week I have the opportunity to share something that has been ruminating inside my heart and mind. In ministry it is important to go to mentors and ministry leaders for advice because they know things a young person in ministry may not know. A couple of weeks ago I decided to talk to a mentor of mine about how to develop a team of leaders and a ministry that continues to be fruitful. One of the phrases he kept using was “partnering with the Holy Spirit.” He encouraged me to partner with the Holy Spirit in the work he is already doing instead of trying to create my own success and going in my own direction. He encouraged me to ask all the leaders in the ministry of Bethel Youth to partner with the Holy Spirit.
After that conversation I was left reflecting on what it meant to partner with the Holy Spirit and my first instinct was to react and say that the idea was quite lofty! Partnering for me had connotation of equality. However partnering has nothing to do with equality.
The Bible is littered with people who partnered with the Holy Spirit and his work! Look at Acts 16 when the Bible directs Paul to go to Macedonia instead of Asia because the Holy Spirit wanted to do something through Paul and his team in Macedonia. Or when Peter in Acts 10 hears from the Lord and is told to go to Cornelius’s house (a Roman Centurion) to share the gospel with someone no one knew was allowed into the covenant of God yet! These disciples, at that time, thought they knew what God wanted. Peter thought the gospel was only for Israel and the Holy Spirit revealed it was for Gentiles (people who are not Israelites) as well. Paul thought he was supposed to go into Asia with the Gospel but was told instead to go to Macedonia and the ministry yielded great fruit both times!
There are many more examples of stories like this in the Bible but the point remains that the same Holy Spirit who directed Paul and Peter desires to use the Church to share the Gospel and to spread the good news today. The Holy Spirit wants us to Partner with him not because he needs us but because he desires to give us purpose and use us. That is why he gives us the gifts of the Holy Spirit and empowers us to share the gospel. This concept is evident all over scripture and it explains why the church exists today. The next natural question is: How do we partner with the Holy Spirit?
When we look at partnering in any other context we see that an effective partnership requires the same goals, ambitions, direction and values. A good partnership also requires excellent communication.
I would like to share a quote with you from Richard Foster on prayer from his book Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. He writes:
” In prayer, real prayer, we begin to think God’s thoughts after him: to desire the things he desires, to love the things he loves, to will the things he wills. Progressively we are taught to see things from his point of view.” (33-34)
I believe the most crucial thing a Christian can do if he or she desires to partner with the Holy Spirit in his work on earth is to pray. Why? Because prayer reveals the heart of God. It helps us to see what He desires. It is not an instrument we use to manipulate God. Prayer provides the opportunity for God to reveal himself to us and allows him to work on our hearts so that we desire the things he desires.
I believe that if the church truly wants to see people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and that if the church wants to be effective in the Lord’s work in our various contexts, we need to pray so that we can be receptive to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Without a partnership with the Holy Spirit the church will be ineffective and motivated by fear. It is not flashy Sunday morning services or an excellent sermon or praise that is a catalyst for change and growth in the Church; it is the work of the Holy Spirit. And we as the church are called to Partner with him through the means of prayer.
We need to Pray to get to know God.
We need to Pray to be directed by God.
We need to Pray for the sake of the lost.