“Come Holy Spirit!”
“We invite the Holy Spirit into this place.”
“The Holy Spirit really showed up this morning!”
If you have been a Christian for any amount of time you have no doubt heard these expressions. In fact you have probably said at least one of them yourself. I know I have! Many believers today often open up church services or worship meetings with prayers like “come, Holy Spirit!” Yet I suspect these prayers may not need to be prayed. Indeed, they may actually cause more harm than good. Allow me to explain…
As a Christian I believe that any person who puts their faith (active trust) in Jesus is given the Holy Spirit. He is described in the Bible as a “seal” we have been given (2Cor. 1:22, Eph. 1:13, Eph. 4:30), and as a promised gift from God (Acts 2:38, Acts 10:45). Throughout the New Testament, ever after God ﬁrst poured out the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 2 on the day of Pentecost, believers were “ﬁlled” with the Holy Spirit. Yet there is no account in any of the New Testament writings that shows a Christian asking for the Holy Spirit to come. Nor will you hear an instruction from the Apostle Paul telling churches to ask for the Holy Spirit to come in a greater measure. You can look all you want; I have, and there’s no sign of it.
Instead, you will hear over and over again the scripture writers and early church leaders telling the believers that they have the Holy Spirit and teaching them how to enjoy Him and not neglect this amazing gift. Even when the disciples gathered in the upper room in Acts 2 they were not praying “Holy Spirit come”; they were simply gathered together and the Holy Spirit came!
Since that day Christians have gotten to enjoy and partake of the most amazing gift on earth…
a continual, abiding presence and communion with the Holy Spirit who lives inside each one of us. In fact, Jesus said it would actually be better for us if He left so that we could partake of that amazing reality (John 16:7). Now I don’t believe God is someone who would give us this amazing gift, one better than having Jesus on earth in the ﬂesh, and then constantly have it coming and going from our lives unless we remember to say the “magic prayer” before a church meeting or a difficult math test. The Holy Spirit doesn’t just show up in a pinch. He doesn’t leave us when we sin. He is continually dwelling in us (1Tim. 1:14). We are the “temple” of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 6:19).
In Acts chapter 4 it says that those gathered were “ﬁlled” with the Holy Spirit. This is after the initial ﬁlling of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. This account is describing their state of existence, that of being “ﬁlled” with the Holy Spirit, its not saying that this was some particularly anointed meeting to which the Holy Spirit “came.” To be ﬁlled is to be FULLﬁlled. It is a sense of completion and fulﬁllment. Nothing is lacking in the person who is ﬁlled with the Holy Spirit. The reality of those gathered in Acts 4 is the same reality that they walked in before that prayer meeting, and its the same reality that we walk in today. We, along with them, are ﬁlled continuously with the Holy Spirit. At times this is manifested in more tangible and experiential ways. Many times when these manifestations happen in scripture we are reminded that these people were “ﬁlled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 4:8, Acts 4:31, Acts 13:9). They had the Holy Spirit both before this manifestation happened and after; it is just being noted that they were ﬁlled with the Holy Spirit in every situation.
We have access to the Holy Spirit before, during, and after an anointed worship service happens. Even if the songs are sung off key and the guitarist breaks a string and we don’t “welcome the Holy Spirit” into the meeting, He is just as much there in us as He is when everything goes differently and the worship leader sings our favorite songs on key and we can feel His presence stronger. The option is always there for us to feel and experience the presence of the Spirit who is in us. It is up to us to believe He is always there or not.
My desire with this writing and in my life is to see us celebrate the abiding reality of the Holy Spirit in our lives more and to stop focusing so much on getting Him to “show up”. There are implications to the prayers of “come Holy Spirit” and the like: they imply He is not here now, He needs to come, I will tell Him to come, and then He comes…good Holy Spirit! We do all that instead of celebrating Him in our midst as the Apostles instructed and led us to do.
Now, if your pastor or leader prays one of these prayers inviting the Holy Spirit, please do not rebuke them! That is not the point of this writing. I am only trying to present the fact that we do not need to spend so much time focusing on and praying for something that is already a reality. The people who pray those prayers do so with the best of intentions. I just believe that God’s answer to those prayers is this:
“Iʼm already here.”