“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26
As a child, I remember hearing that the Holy Spirit is like our conscience. I’m sure whoever said that meant well, but as a result, I associated feelings of shame and guilt with God, thus warping my perception of Him. It is true that the Holy Spirit leads us to repentance by showing us our sin and need for a Savior. And once we are Christians, He still convicts us, which in my experience, has been a feeling of hope and relief, instead of guilt and shame.
The Holy Spirit also comforts, refreshes, and empowers. So many of us have missed the joys of a Spirit-filled life because we have no idea Who is living inside of us and what He wants to do for us. I never dreamed that He wanted to talk to me!
“If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11
Have you felt the power of the Holy Spirit in your life? I did not recognize His power for many years, even as a believer. For me, I did many Christian things, like attend church, read my Bible, and pray prayers (that seemed to boomerang back at me from the ceiling). I did everything I thought I was supposed to do, but did not seem to have that “relationship with God” that so many people were talking about.
It wasn’t until I visited an intercessory prayer ministry at my church, that I finally understood that I should listen while I prayed! I couldn’t help but notice that the ladies praying for me were quiet during much of the prayer session. And when they did speak, their prayers were so tailored to my needs that I knew they had heard directly from God. This revelation was so life-altering that I joined the ministry and learned to listen to the Holy Spirit myself!
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27 (emphasis mine)
It never even occurred to me as a child that God would want to talk to me through the Holy Spirit. I thought He only spoke to “important” people, like missionaries or pastors or prophets in the Bible. In the past, I had always come to God with my “to-do list” for Him. I wanted Him to do exactly what I wanted Him to do when I wanted Him to do it, which was just about always ASAP! Yes, we can boldly approach His throne of grace because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us but I am so thankful that He did not answer all my prayers yes.
I love how Mark Batterson puts it in his book, Whisper, when he said “God is not a genie in a bottle, and our wish is not His command. Quite the opposite. As we grow in grace, His command becomes our only wish!” When you feel like your prayers are not getting answered then it is easy to give up or feel like God doesn’t hear you. The solution is listening to the Holy Spirit who tells us how to pray and what to pray. He changes our desires to line up with His desires.
“Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act.” Psalm 37:4-5
A surrendered heart is key to listening to the Holy Spirit. Maybe we are afraid of what we might hear when we actually listen. Looking back, I think that God was talking to me all along but I just wasn’t listening. What if I really didn’t like His answers? What if He asked me to do something I didn’t want to do like be a missionary in the jungles of Africa? Instead of listening with a surrendered heart, I often forged ahead and then asked God to bless the mess I created. God’s plans are not always easy, but they are infinitely better than any plans we make up on our own.
No wonder I spent most of my life without a personal relationship with God. You certainly can’t have a relationship when only one person is listening!