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Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category

Worship as a Modality of Prayer

Medjlightface“God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4:24)

My fellow pilgrims and family in Christ,

As Jesus clearly tells us, true Worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the One Jesus calls “Father”, can only be entered when one is in a state which Jesus terms, “in spirit and in truth”.  In the Book of Revelation, the apostle John relates that was in such a state, on the Lord’s day when he received the visions presented in the sacred writings.  Although, entering such a state, is the work of the Holy Spirit in us, He will not force us into such a state without our willing cooperation.  Deep, intimate Prayer, is the means through which we subdue our flesh and yield willingly to the Spirit so that He can bring us to the state of  true “worship”.

I can truly say that, it was not until I yielded my religious self to the Holy Spirit that I, through Spirit-guided prayer was able to truly understand and experience what “worship in spirit and truth” really meant. For this reason I now post this article excerpted from our Brother, Jorge Madrid’s works, as a follow on to his article on the “Modalities of Prayer”, which  I presented to you in my prior posting. In this excerpt our brother Jorge, expands on this topic by presenting his testimony on the ultimate modality of prayer,that is “worship”

In this submission I present to you Mr. Madrid’s reflection in order to ensure that as you enter into a deeper prayer experience, you clearly understand that prayer, the path of dialogue and relationship with the Divine, has, as its main objective, the yielding of ourselves to God through worship, and especially, worship as expressed through Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice of Love, as expressed in the ordinance He left us – the  Eucharistic service we Catholics call the Mass.

Because many of us Christians have not fully comprehended the Word of Truth and the Glorious Gift of God’s redeeming grace and His Presence in us, we are seemingly afraid to enter into a deeper spiritual relationship with the Divine through prayer, mainly from sensing correctly that we are sinners and that, as sinners, we are not worthy to enter into the Divine Presence. However, if we are truly converted Christians and thus are baptized “into Christ”, we are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), and, when we come before the Father in prayer we come not in our name or in our presumed righteousness, but in the Name of His Son, Jesus and in His righteousness which is imputed unto us who believe.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

Therefore, We need not fear or be inhibited in coming to an experience of this deeper level of personal spiritual relationship with the Divine, in fact, it is Jesus, himself who has given us His Divine invitation for us to enter into prayer at this ultimate level as He says to us:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Rev.3:20 )

Now, our brother Jorge Madrid is no different from any of us, and, according to his own assessment, is merely a repentant sinner whom God has graced because he turned to Him in desperation. His testimony, which follows is merely his attempt to share with us his experience in how the Holy Spirit activated his heart through the Word, repentance and prayer bringing him to experience Worship at a Eucharistic service at a spiritual level he had never experienced before in his life. He shares his story with us to encourage all of us to go deeper in our relationship with the Father, through Jesus, His Son, who is the Door to the Father and the source of all the graces for our relationship with Him. Graces that He offers freely to us through the precious Blood!

Realizing that “…we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb.4:14-16).  Praised be His Holy Name!

The only condition to this confidence of Faith being that we “put on Christ” as we enter into prayer.  In order to do so, always keep in mind St.Paul’s admonition to the pilgrims of his day …

The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:12-14).

With this said I present to you the testimony of our brother and fellow pilgrim, Jorge Madrid Sr..

May the Holy Spirit be with you as you walk along The Way!

Your fellow pilgrim in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

PS: Don’t miss the Worship video at the end of this posting!

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2014])

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Regarding Worship: The Ultimate Modality of Prayer

A personal Reflection By Jorge Madrid Sr., AMDG

Praying In the Spirit

Praying in the Spirit

“God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth”

(John4:24)

One of the things I have learned, as the Lord opened my Heart to the Love of the Father, is that the true worship of the Father necessarily involves entering into a living relationship with Him.  Without such a relationship we can only approach worship from a distance as from the outer courts of the Temple. The true worship the Father desires of us is through a loving relationship with Him – a relationship that may only be realized through a living dialogue and communion with Jesus, who is the Door to the Father and in whom the fullness of the Godhead resides.

As a (more or less) traditional and cultural Catholic, I was observant of all the church rules, partook of the sacraments and attended mass regularly and assumed that my attendance at mass was de facto worship. The beauty and reverence of the services did help me to reverence God, His Word, and the sacrifice of His Son that brings us to salvation and acceptance as His children. I also believed that during the mass (the Catholic Eucharistic Service) I was a participant in that awesome and magnificent act of God’s Love for humanity and that, by being present, I was, in fact, present at the greatest act of worship ever. However, my personal participation in that worship was limited in that I perceived myself more as a devoted observer than a participant.

One circumstance that limited me was my lack of spiritual awareness through faith. At the intellectual level, I assented theologically to the concept of the mass being a participation in Christ’s offering of Himself to the Father, but in hindsight, I know now that I was not entering the level of awareness of being in communion with Christ during the worship that I ought to have had. I cannot speak for others, but for me, before my conversion experience, I never really comprehended the full meaning of that worship in my spirit. Metaphorically speaking, it was as if I were an observer of the Temple worship from the court of the gentiles but never as an actual participant in that worship in the Holy of Holies as I ought to have been. For that reason I could not, at that period in my life, say I had personally experienced, at the spirit level, the worship that the Father desires, which is, that we worship Him “in Spirit and in Truth”. Now, I must be clear, I did also believe that I received the Body and Blood of Christ at the reception of the Eucharist and I can say that the sustenance of the life of Christ did help me through some difficult times in my life. I am only attempting to state that there was a certain dullness in my spirit that prevented me from receiving the fullness of the graces that flow from the Sacrament of His Love. It was only after my conversion experience, which opened me to a spiritual awareness, that I have been able to experience the fullness of the worship experience at mass, the Eucharistic celebration.

As I later discovered, through the grace and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, there were three major factors casting a veil over my worship experience. These were as follows: (1) my spiritual ignorance, (2) my un-yielded self-will, and (3) the hidden sins of my heart.

Spiritual Ignorance

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge …”   (Hos. 4:6)

My ignorance consisted of not clearly understanding that we humans are endowed by our creator with three levels of awareness: (a) an awareness through our physical senses of our physical self and the material worlds around us, (b) an inward mental awareness of our personal identity and all of our intellectual and our emotional attributes and capabilities (ie. what we sometimes categorize as the “soul”), and (c) the spiritual level of awareness, which we sometimes identify with the human heart or spirit. This latter level of awareness is intuitive, non-conceptual and non-verbal and includes our conscience. It is this latter level of awareness that we sometimes ignore or overlook as a part of our personal assessment. Yet it is at this level of awareness that our Creator intended as the level where He desires to meet with us and establish a personal relationship that brings us into communion with Him. Due to Adam’s act of disobedience (original sin), however, this level of communion with the Holy One was disrupted in Adam and all his generations.

I must add, with great sadness that my ignorance extended further to the fact that I did not understand that in order for me to connect with the Father in true worship, I had to enter the spiritual level of my spirit, which had been renewed in me through baptism. I also was not aware that, even though baptized, this channel of relationship remained inactive, and needed to be activated through an act of my will – by a sincere, heartfelt repentance and conversion. In my traditional and cultural passivity as a young child, I went through the motions required of me in receiving the sacraments but did not truly understand the level of  heartfelt repentance and commitment needed in giving my heart to Jesus. As a result, although the grace of baptism and confirmation worked in the circumstances of my life, I had not totally yielded my inner self to my Savior, Jesus, thus creating a veil that kept me from a true relationship with the Lover of my soul. Through the grace and mercy of the Father, the Holy Spirit continued working in the circumstances of my life so that as an adult He brought me to the point where I recognized my need to know Him in a personal way, and thus, after a heartfelt repentance, I turned to Him in a conversion of heart, inviting the Lord Jesus into my Heart and thus beginning a personal relationship with Him “in the Spirit”.

My Unyeilded Self-will

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, if anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”  (Matthew 16:23-25)

This brings me to the next barrier that hindered me from fully entering the spiritual awareness I needed to truly participate in worship, namely my self-will. You see even though I had come to conversion and repented of my known sins, and turned to the Lord for his forgiveness, I still retained my self-will. That is, I had not fully yielded myself to the Holy One. In my continuing ignorance and, of course, my pride, it had not entered my mind that what the Father desired of me is the total yielding of my self to His reign in me. I incorrectly supposed that, I, in my turning to Him I could now use my self will to serve Him. So the Holy Spirit had to make it clear to me, through His Word, that I had to deny my self will in order for the Lord to rule in my life. I had to yoke my self to Jesus so that all that through that yoking I my desires, and my thoughts would become His desires and his thoughts, and thus my actions would be in conformity to his will and thus “walk in the spirit”.

Of course, once I understood my problem, I repented again and I made the decision to surrender my self completely to His reign in me. What this decision did was to begin a process of transformation in me where I now continually come to situations where I have to put down my self will so that He and He alone would reign in me. This tension between my spirit and my flesh is still the cross I have to bear daily but now I am more aware of my self will attempting to creep in, but now, by the grace of God, in Him I  have the spiritual strength needed to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh. Praised be His Holy Name!

The Hidden sins of the Heart

ascending-temple

“ Who may ascend the hill of the LORD?   

      Who may stand in his holy place?

          He who has clean hands and a pure heart,

                who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.

   He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior.

   Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of  Jacob.”

…                                                                    (Psalm 24:3-5)

Having yielded my self completely to the Lord, He then began His work of transformation in me to conform me more and more into His image. He began His work in me with a very thorough house cleaning. In this process the Holy Spirit began to reveal to me the secrets of my heart.

Yes, although I had repented of my sins at my conversion, there were secret sins that I harbored in my heart, that were barriers to the fullness of worship. These were sins that I had long ago buried in my subconscious by justifying them as merely human idiosyncrasies.  They were very personal sins, which included things like: bitterness originating from unresolved personal grudges and hurts, an anger and cynicism towards others that came on me for no apparent reason, a prideful and stubborn attitude that always placed my ideas and will above others, and flowing from this sulking behavior when I didn’t get my way.  These sins, of course, affected all my relationships but again I was blind to them because they were so deeply hidden in my inner self. Even now I still encounter them attempting to creep back into my life. But now that the Lord has brought them into His Light I am rapidly aware of them and bring them under His Blood in confession. Some of these sins are gone forever as the Lord healed me of my inner hurts and I forgave all who had injured me. Praised be His Holy Name!

Worship revived me

As the Lord worked His transformation in me, my worship experience continued to deepen. In the beginning, after I received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, I experienced a totally heavenly worship at a mass conducted after a spiritual retreat. I literally thought I was before the throne of God, I experienced a sense of communion with the Lord that I had never experienced before, a communion that extended to all who were present in the church as well. Later the worship experience extended even beyond my participation at mass. I noticed this happening during the daily events in my life. For instance, I sometimes would enter into worship as I was driving to work and I would have to stop until I the experience passed and I was able to drive again. Nowadays, I find myself going into worship during my evening prayer times and when I am exercising in the Gym. Thus is the Glory of the Lord manifested in us! “Baruch Ha Shem” Blessed be the Name!

In Conclusion..

Like the man born blind who received his sight at from the healing Hand of Jesus, and having been given new life in Him, I now wish to tell others (whatever their religious upbringing or lack thereof) who are still seeking, about the renewed spirituality that comes with knowing Jesus personally and the more vibrant worship and prayer life that abounds when you put aside you inhibitions and yield your self to the Spirit of the Living God and receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

To Jesus, our Blessed Savior, be Glory and Honor and Praise forever and ever! Amen!

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Author’s Note: I add a poem I wrote regarding my conversion experience

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As  One  From  a Dream Awakens

As one from a dream awakens,

           So the day I came to the light of life.

                       As the whirlwind of the Spirit entered,

The door to my soul opened wide.

           It broke through the shell of self, erected

                       To  defend the self against the embrace of Love,

…. That Eternal Love for which my soul was made.

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Oh ! I built my defenses well!

In my narcissist enclave all was to justify the Self.

All I said and did was well under the control

Of reason and science and intellectual disdain,

Of a measured theology and attitude profane,

           But sorely wanting of the very thing from which I fled,

…. That Eternal Love for which my soul was made.

 

But then as if from nowhere,  I heard  …

A Word that pierced and shook me to my very depths

A Word that revealed the sham that I was living

           A Word that deflated my ego and my pride

It told me that nothing in me was worthy

      But that He who Loves me, died that I might have

…. That Eternal Love for which my soul was made.

 

As into my heart His Word descended,

I was overcome by the intensity of His Love.

As His Love called out to me and sought me,

Willingly, I ceded self to its manifold embrace,

Basking in the warmth of His Compassion, the Mercy of His Grace,

Asking only that He renew and restore me, to receive more of

…. That Eternal Love for which my soul was made.

                                                                        Jorge Madrid Sr., AMDG

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Copyright © 2008 Madrid Family Living Trust

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Related Links

<> Here is a Worship Music Video that will open up your spirit …

Christ In us the Hope of Glory!

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Prayer of Dedication

Prayer to Receive The Holy Spirit

Reclaiming Our Legacy in Christ

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Jesus said,” I am … the Bright and Morning Star” (Rev. 22:16), The Daystar that signals the Dawn of the Kingdom of God.
This is the season when we celebrate  the  arrival of the Daystar,  the Dawn of a New Day  for humanity is upon us!

Christ the Morning Star

The Daystar Rises

It is Time! Awaken and Put on the Lord Jesus Christ!

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“Brothers and sisters:
You know the time;
it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.
For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;
the night is advanced, the day is at hand.
Let us then throw off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light;
let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,
not in orgies and drunkenness,
not in promiscuity and lust,
not in rivalry and jealousy.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.”
(Rom. 13:11-14)

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Brothers and sisters in Christ,

Our preparation for Christmas is not indulging in orgies, promiscuity and lust but in preparing our hearts, our temples to receive, the presence of the Holy One of Israel, the Only Begotten of the Father, Yeshua HaMashiach, His anointed Redeemer.

The Daystar is Born

The Daystar is Born

With this in mind, let us extend, in our spirits, St. Paul’s exhortation to the Romans, as cited above, for it is as valid for us now, as it was for them in ancient times. The tendency for humans to revel in the flesh, is well evident in how we prepare to celebrate many of our feasts.  Take for example the “carnivals” (ie., festivals of the flesh) we hold prior to entering the lenten season and the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, and now, the type of fleshly feasts we promote as we enter the season of advent, Christmas and the coming New Year.

Whereas, in the traditions of the early church, Advent was intended to be a time of inner reflection and prayer, today it is a time to “let loose” do whatever pleases us!  Advent is not intended to promote self-condemnation, but instead,  to bring us into humble submission to the Holy Spirit so that He may work in us, to prepare to receive our KING and REDEEMER. Our preparation being an act of faith in the Knowledge of who He is and the Holiness of His Being. Our preparation is not in expectation that what we do will buy us anything in the hereafter, but, rather, as an opening of the door of our spirits to let him into our manger of our hearts so that He may be reborn therein.

It is this incentive to … “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh”, that ought to be our attitude as we enter into this Holy season.

Now, “putting on the Lord Jesus Christ”, demands action from us based on a decision driven by Faith. It is not just a passive, live and enjoy life attitude. It is an action that requires our commitment. It is an action that moves us to put aside all aspects of human sinful desires based on the “revelation” or “conviction” that we are indeed in such need of salvation that The Divine One, Himself, needs to come down to be one of us, and, through His Redemptive Suffering, take on all of our sins so that he can transform us and bring us into intimacy with His Holiness and His Love! And, that without this Gift Of Salvation, all humanity would be lost to the relationship with the Divine for which we were all created!

Human revelry, then, is quashed by this revelation or conviction … the revelation that the Day of salvation is at hand, the day when the Only Begotten of the Father, the Lamb of God who is the bearer of our sins, is born of the Virgin Mary, becoming one of us, but without sin so that, as the unblemished Lamb of God He may bear all of our sins, past, present, and future so that we may be reborn as children of the Father and truly become “His brothers and sisters”.

In investing ourselves in Christ we need to use as our model the discipleship of Mary who gave herself, body, soul, and Spirit in obedience to the Word of the Lord as to her calling.  As we pray our prayer of commitment (see below) let Mary’s words to the Lord’s Angel resound in our hearts: ” I am the bondservant of the Lord be it done to me according to Thy Word” (Luke 1:38).

You do well to be attentive to [the prophetic message] as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the day star rises in your hearts” (Second Peter 1:19).

May His Star awaken you and May the Spirit of the Lord Come upon you all to instill His Word in your Heart so that you also may bear the living Christ within for His Glory! Praised be His Holy Name!

Your Brother In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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Lord Jesus, I believe that you, the Son of the Living God came down from heaven to reveal the Father’s Love to me by suffering and dying for my sins. I believe that through your death and resurrection you have brought redemption and life not only to me but also all else who believe in you. I further believe that it is only through knowing you in a loving personal relationship that I can know the Father.

It is because I have a burning desire to know you and abide in you that I now yield myself completely to you and your love. I open the door to my heart so you can come in and sup with me and thus begin the special relationship with you for which you died and for which I hunger.At this moment I yield myself to your love. Enter in and activate my spirit with your Holy Spirit so that I can go beyond just mere intellectual belief in you to a personal spiritual knowledge of you and the Father.

I yoke myself to You Lord, cleanse me from my sins and make me a fit vessel for your presence. Permeate my entire being with your life and your love so that I can truly be your instrument in this world. Be my Lord, Be My God, Be my King to rule and to reign in me. In faith and by your grace I receive You and I receive Your word.

Abide in me just as you abide in the Father and the Father in you! Thank you for giving yourself for me. Amen!

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Recommended Link(s):

Sweet Yoke Of Love

Overcoming the World

Understanding The Kingdom

Yielding to the Kingdom Anointing

The Kingdom Of God Our Spiritual Inheritance

The Empowerment Gifts That Manifest The Kingdom Amongst us
(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2013])

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A Renewed New Life for the New Year!

Christ is our New Life

Christ is our New Life

“When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son,born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. As proof that you are sons,  God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,  crying out, “Abba, Father!”So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then also an heir, through God.” (1 Gal. 4:4-7)

Brothers and Sisters, my fellow Pilgrims in Christ,

Regarding Resolutions for the New Year

It is common practice, for most of us in the west, to make some resolutions at the beginning of each new year that will lead to improvement our lifestyles through the removal of unhealthy habits and/or the initiation of what we may suppose are good ones that will truly bring about the desirable changes in we envision.

Unfortunately, especially for those of us who are Christians, the truth is that we always approach these attempts at personal renewal from a purely worldly viewpoint ,that is, mainly to permit us to live longer and, we hope, more enjoyable and prosperous lives in todays world. Rarely,if ever, do we undertake “New Year” resolutions to improve our spiritual lives to really come to a renewed spiritual  life in Christ, a union so intimate, we can without any hypocrisy, cry out “Abba or Daddy” to His Father and our Father. A union that permits us to dialog with the Divine in such way as to truly experience, in the spirit, our heritage as adopted sons of the Father and heirs of His Kingdom.

The primary reason for this secular tendency on our part, is that our life in this world remains the focus of our reason for living. For many of us the “spiritual life” is merely a theological term that does not resonate with us as being an accessible reality. Oh yes, the songs and hymns we sing in church may stir up some pietistic emotions that we may consider as spirituality but hardly ever do we find these emotions moving us to act in faith so that the Spirit of God may transform our lives so that we can truly see the changes we know we need, so that we may escape from the enticements and lusts of the world that have such a hold on our lives.

A Resolution Where God Brings You To Life – Through His Grace

Because all of us are a composite of spirit, soul, and body we usually have a hunger for true spirituality that goes unfulfilled. The reason for this is, that although we pay great attention to the needs of our soul and body, we tend to ignore and neglect the spiritual side of our being. We mainly attempt to meet the spiritual emptiness inside of us with non-spiritual solutions for our soul and our body,without tending to our spiritual needs first.

Yes, we need to make a resolution for the New Year, but it should  be a resolution to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, to yield ourselves to Him, so that He can activate our spirit, work in  us to feed us with His Word, and bring us to a new life in the Spirit by conforming us daily to the Spirit of Christ that is in us through our conversion and baptism (cf., prayer to the Holy Spirit in the referenced links)

In making such a resolution we must avoid thinking that what we will be doing is a dedication of our own human efforts to enable a spiritual change in ourselves. Please understand, we have NO WAY to bring spiritual life to our selves or to others. Just as Jesus said: “Spirit begets spirit and flesh beget flesh”.  True spiritual life can only come from the source of all Life, Jesus, the Word of Life. As John the Evangelist said: “In Him was Life and the Life was the light of men” (Jn.1:4), Jesus who is the Word made flesh, He is the one who brings us to life, not only in human flesh but in our spirits as well. He, and He alone, is the Door to spiritual life and, as He told us: “I am The Way The Truth, and the Life; No one comes to the Father but by me” (Jn.14:6).

So you see, our resolve must be to yoke ourselves to Jesus (Matt:11-29) and yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit for the rest of our lives. For only through Him and His Word can the Spirit of God be released in us to bring us to new life in Christ and thus satiate our spiritual hunger!  Our only part in the resolve is through an act of faith in Christ, that is, an act of our will where we repent of our attachments to the world system and ask Jesus to come into our hearts and be, not only our savior, but also our Lord, and thus open the door for Him to take control of our lives through the working of the Holy Spirit. In this manner it will be the Holy Spirit working in you and through you who will effect a true living spirituality in your person to the Glory of His Name!

Our Response to God’s Renewing Grace In Believing Communities

It is the making of such a resolution that is the foundation for a sincere and true Christian life. It is a resolution that has has also been the foundation of all historical Christian communities. Yes, God has provided the Graces needed for renewal through Christ, but in order to activate these Graces we must respond in Faith. That is the Challenge for all  Christians and for their communities.

As an example let us look at St. Paul’s dealings with the Colossian community, whom he initially founded. He tells the community, in His letter to them, that he is constantly praying for them that they may be strengthened in Christ who will sustain them in their resolve. He does this because he knows that, although they received the Gospel, they are struggling to extricate themselves from the pagan culture and world in which they are embedded and that they are in need of an affirmation of their faith to strengthen their resolve. Listen to the words of encouragement he gives them and take it to heart for yourselves.

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation — if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”

(Col. 1:9-24)

Then, to the Ephesian community, which was also struggling in being conformed to Christ, Paul exhorts them to “Put of the old nature and  put on their new nature in Christ, which is, of course what yoking yourself to Christ will effect in you!  Listen to Paul in his own words:

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.  Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;  to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:17-24)

In accord with Paul’s exhortation and encouragement, I urge you, my brethren and fellow pilgrims, to commit or renew your resolution in this New Year and to separate yourself from the world by to yoking yourself to Christ and by yielding yourself to the Holy Spirit so that , together, we may continue more faithfully in our walk in the spirit through the narrow gate to Life, not the flesh but in the spirit! There is no other way, for it is only in the spirit that we can truly worship and it only through true worship that we can drink from the living water of Life!

To this end I attach a prayer (below) to the Holy Spirit that you may amend or use, as the Spirit leads, to formulate your own personal response for your resolution to enter into Life. I pray that you will listen to what the Spirit is urging you now so that you may take your first step into the Kingdom of God’s Love!  

Praised be His Holy Name! To Him be all the Glory Forever and ever . Amen!

Your brother in Christ Jesus …. Bartimeaus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-20013].
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# Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

Receiving the Gift of the Holy Spirit

As I have indicated before, a true and sincere conversion is the scriptural prerequisite to receiving the “Promise of the Father”, the Gift of the Holy Spirit, in your own personal Pentecost. This means you first need to discern whether you are indeed a converted Christian and not just a cultural one as I was. If you are not sure, and you have determined in prayer that you want to be right with God and have a hunger to know the Lord Jesus personally then that is easy to remedy.  Just pray as follows:

“Lord Jesus, I am deeply aware that my sins have separated me from you and from the eternal life which you have promised to those who believe. I repent of my sins and turn to you in faith for the salvation and forgiveness you won for me on the cross through the shedding of your blood even when I was yet a sinner and without merit before God. I surrender my life to you. Come into my heart, be the Lord of my Life. Be my Savior and my King. Live in me and through me so that I can truly represent you in my service to others in your Name. Amen.”

Now, if the terminology,  “baptism in/with the Holy Spirit”, creates a theological hurdle for you receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, just think of what you are desiring as a  “release of the Holy Spirit” that is already in you through baptism and confirmation. The Holy Spirit is not so much concerned as to your theological understanding of the Promise of the Father as much as He is looking for your sincere desire to be open to His working within you and through you no matter how or what you call it! All He wants is your permission! Your surrender to His purposes in and through you!

Once this is settled in your mind, then you need to pray about what you are sensing in your spirit. If, after prayer and meditation on the scripture you sense a strong sincere desire to receive all that the Holy Spirit has for you and to be open to His working in and through your life (without restrictions on your part), then you are ready to proceed to the next step.

In asking for the Holy Spirit to empower you (whether in a community setting or a personal one) come into the Father’s presence and ask (something like this):

“ Father, as your child in Jesus I desire to be totally an instrument for Your Kingdom to manifest through my life. I desire to receive your Promise of the Holy Spirit to those who believe. Jesus, my Savior and King, baptize me in the Holy Spirit so that the power of your resurrection will work in me and transform me according to your will. Holy Spirit, empower me and fill me to overflowing. I hold nothing back from you. Work your gifts in me and through me, all of me, so that the Father’s Kingdom may be manifested in and through my life. I ask this in Jesus’ mighty Name. Amen!”

Now, begin praising and worshiping God with all your heart. Release yourself from all the inhibitions you have and raise your voice in songs and psalms. Express those longings you have held in your heart for so long but were unable to let loose because of your inhibitions. As you sing and worship release yourself to the Holy Spirit so that He can pray and worship through you.

As you enter this time of praise and worship you will begin to experience a sense of the presence of the Lord. You will begin to lose your self-consciousness and you will sense that the flow of your prayers and song is coming as if from out of nowhere. In fact, as your praise increases you sense that you are uttering words that are no longer in your mother tongue. But you know in your spirit that these words are honoring God so your flow in these phrases increases. You have just received your prayer language. You are feeling so blessed, you find that you don’t want to stop. Don’t stop. Pray and sing your heart out, glorifying God!

Praised be His Holy Name! You have now ”Entered the Kingdom” of the Father! Walk in the leading of the Holy Spirit and be obedient to His call!

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-20013].

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Related Links

I Stand at the Door and Knock

Sweet Yoke of Love

Releasing the Spirit

Praying in the Spirit

The Kingdom of God: Our Spiritual Inheritance

Reclaiming Our Legacy In Christ

Hearing God’s Voice, and Obeying It

Pentecost and the Promise of the Father

The Empowerment Gifts (Part 1)

The Empowerment Gifts (Part 2) 

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2013])

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What is Spirituality Anyway?           

(Excerpted from a booklet by Jorge  Madrid Sr.,  with the Author’s permission)                          

The Word is a Double Edged Sword

The Word is a Double Edged Sword

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”  (Hebrews 4:12 emphasis mine)

In our rationalistic culture we somehow believe or think that by assigning a definition or label to a concept that somehow we have captured the spirit of that which we so define. It is like thinking that we can capture the essence of a uniquely aromatic field of lavender by passing the butterfly net of our intellect over it and attempting to describe it with words.

No!  To really capture the essence of that field of lavender you have to be in that field, walking in it, breathing in the air, and smelling and absorbing the richness of its essence under the imbuement of the associated color and light. Then, if we have a poetic or musical strain, we may attempt to convey our experience to others through the inspiration of our art. But it is never the equal of the experience itself. Only a personal visit to the field of lavender will really suffice. And even then each person’s experience, while having some commonality, will differ because the experience will evoke different reactions from the visitor’s inner person, that is, the non-intellectual part of the person.

I bring this up to indicate our need to emphasize that the terms we use to define some of our concepts are but mere place-holders that we use to attempt to communicate a reality that cannot be intellectualized but can only be fully comprehended through our experiencing it! And, that if the person we are trying to communicate with has not experienced something similar, our words will be just that, words. Empty words. Words that will not transmit the essence of our experience but merely a statement that indicated we visited some place called  “a field of lavender” and that we had a “wonderful” experience.

“Spirit”, “spiritual” and “spirituality” are words that are commonly used to attempt to communicate such concepts. In fact, they are so commonly used that our first reaction is to assume that we understand want is meant because we have read so many books and materials on the subject. But if someone were to pin us down with the question: “ when was the last time you experienced something spiritual”, most of us would be hard pressed to answer. And if we did, we would usually respond with something that evoked our emotions, because that is the usual way we tend to misunderstand the meaning of the term, “spiritual”.

It is because of this misunderstanding that many Christians are somewhat afraid of “spiritual” experiences because it might make them appear as too emotional, especially in church. And of course, what Christian wants to be emotional, especially, in a church environment?  After all, anything that looks like emotionalism indicates a lack of self-control and would bring some unwanted attention from the congregants and the ministers[1].

First of all, true “spiritual’ experiences initiated by the Holy Spirit are not emotional outbursts or esoteric feelings. They are exceptional events that occur deep in our “inner selves’. Sometimes they involve visions, dreams, and prophecy, but mainly they are a non-cognitive awareness of something beyond that which can be perceived by our senses but which imparts an infused understanding, knowledge or wisdom beyond ourselves. They involve a perception into that which lies beyond our normal sense or cognitive experience.

These experiences may evoke emotions on our part but our responses are always entirely under our control. The Holy Spirit does not take over our personality but instead values our free will and a cooperative attitude.  What the Holy Spirit desires from us, in granting us these experiences, is “communion” with the divine and that communion takes place in the quiet center of our inner being. What we sometimes term as our “spirit” or our “heart”. It is our “Holy of Holies”, our sanctuary where our spirit can commune with the Holy One.

The human spirit was designed by God to have a desire or a “hunger” for communion with He who created us and those things in our lives which can, in some way, satisfy or satiate this “hunger” or “thirst” are, therefore, referred to as “spiritual”.   Spirituality is the term we use to describe this nature or characteristic of the spirit that yearns for communion with the Divine in the stillness of our inner sanctuary.

Every person on this planet, whether they realize it or not, are seeking to be in touch with their spirituality. This is only natural because it is an essential part of our being and its neglect brings us to a dysfunctional state which we humans, in our ignorance, attempt to repair by attempting to fill our spiritual hunger with ego-satisfying ambitions, and the empty lure of worldly lusts and emotions. Thus, amplifying our state of disarray and personal agony.

Another of the problems in our rationalistic western culture is our inability to comprehend the tripartite nature (body, soul, and spirit) with which we have been endowed.  Since our spiritual nature cannot be observed and studied as our body and our soul (mind, psyche, emotions, etc.) we tend to ignore its needs and demands. As a result when the Holy Spirit knocks at the doors of our hearts we do not know how to open the door or, if we do, we are afraid to because it may lead us to an area of our lives for which our culture has not prepared us, or in fact, has blocked the door because being “spiritual” is considered by some to be “anti-intellectual”.

Before continuing, let me say that because of this, simple, less intellectually sophisticated persons are usually better able to open the door to the Holy Spirit because they are not hampered by the intellectual or philosophical predispositions introduced by our culture.

In order to get past these barriers it is necessary for us to comprehend is that spiritual experiences in the Holy Spirit are our legitimate Christian legacy and, if properly practiced and understood, are perfectly compatible with our Faith. They are, in fact, at the core of our Faith.

That being said, it must also be affirmed that one must be aware that a person can be deceived, not only intellectually, but also spiritually. There are counterfeit spiritual experiences just as there are false teachers of deceptive philosophies. For that reason, the gifts of the Holy Spirit include, the gift of prophecy, teaching,, wisdom, knowledge, and discernment of spirits, so that those leaders of the community that are charismatically endowed can help keep the community from spiritual and intellectual deception.

In the early centuries of the church, both intellectual and spiritual deception was rampant. The Greek intellectual environment of those days scrutinized every religion (new and old) with respect to discovering some “new” wisdom.   Such wisdom was sought both intellectually through philosophy and logic as well as through the esoteric “hidden” wisdom sought out by the mystery cults and the Gnostics.  Because of these trends, the faith of the early Christians was very vulnerable to being hi-jacked by these movements.

In their defense of the true Faith, the early church fathers went to great extremes to establish a solid theological foundation that could counter the attacks of the cultural Greek intellectual elite and the mystery cults. They also attempted to define the clear bounds for discerning orthodox spiritual experiences from the occult and pagan demonic experiences. In doing so they had to define the terms “spirit”, “spiritual” and “spirituality” in a manner that was consistent with orthodox theology and concepts that would become the bulwark against the prevalent deceptions of the Greek intellectual and pseudo-spiritual culture of those days. These diversions from the truth had attempted to twist Paul’s theological concept of “body, soul, and spirit” to accommodate Gnostic and Manichean dualistic concepts of good and evil that usually ended up postulating that we had two natures, one evil and one divine.

In those early theological battles it also became essential to define what was meant by the term “soul” and what was meant by the term “spirit”.  In the Gnostic concept, our spiritual nature was the “good” part of us while our natural self and body were inherently evil. In their view, salvation could only be achieved through an esoteric knowledge (gnosis) through which our real “self” could escape our “evil” nature into the “pleroma”  (union with the highest divinity). This of course implied that our natural soul was part of the evil nature and that we had within us another spiritual entity which, although “good” was imprisoned within the natural. Replete with errors, the ultimate conclusion of this heretical line of reasoning was that our salvation depends on ourselves (through our achieving gnosis) and NOT on the saving sacrifice of God’s son.

In order to quell such heretical dualistic disparities, the church councils clearly established the true teaching that we only have one spiritual nature and that is our soul. What is sometimes lost because of the intricacies of the theological discourse is the fact that the councils did not refute scripture regarding the separate identity of the human spirit. Rather, the councils affirmed that the human spirit, though it has its own intrinsic functions, is embedded in the soul, and is of the same spiritual essence. This unique spiritual entity, together with the body, form one living being[2]. Their main intent was not to negate the existence of man’s spirit but rather to affirm that there are not two spiritual natures (or essences) in man but one.

Today, because we have forgotten the intent of the councils to differentiate essence from function, there is some confusion over the functional distinction between soul and spirit to the degree that, in general, they are generally considered to be synonymous

St. Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, and one of the Fathers of the Christian faith, clearly indicates in his writings that the human spirit exists as the deepest most intimate part of our soul and that it exhibits distinct functions from the rest of the soul. In his letters to a confused cleric, Augustine states: “It now remains for me to show how it is that while the designation spirit is rightly predicated of a part of the soul, not the whole of it,–even as the apostle says, “Your whole spirit, and soul, and body;” or, according to the much more expressive statement in the Book of Job,’ “Thou wilt separate my soul from my spirit,” –yet the whole soul is also called by this name” (cf., A Treatise on the Soul and its Origin, Book 4, Chapter 36)

Now, if we don’t really understand that the term “spirit” as used in scripture refers to a component of man’s being that, although an integral part of the soul, has its own distinct functions[3], how can we really understand what spirituality or spiritual growth entail?

In the past, theologians wrapped themselves around a proverbial axle trying to define the distinction between “spirit” and “soul” by deferring to classical philosophical definitions between essence and form. This usually led to abstruse discussions about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  All we need to know is that the Holy Spirit through His infallible Word has revealed to us that in the eyes of God there is a special part of us that He designates as our “spirit”. If we trust His word we should not need to go into any arcane classifications between form and essence in attempting to understand with our limited human intelligence something beyond what God has revealed to us. We merely trust Him to tell us what we need to know to adequately manage our spiritual lives. And knowing that we have a “spirit” is something we need to know in order to understand the dynamics of what happens in the spiritual domain.

First of all, we read in Genesis 2:7 that when God created man in his image, He breathed His Spirit [Hebrew, neshamah, Strong’s Hebrew #5397] on man so that He could become a living entity or soul [Hebrew, nephesh, Strong’s Hebrew #5315] [4]. This leads us to the following implications: 1) man’s higher spiritual nature [neshamah] is created directly from the creative power of God’s Spirit, 2) the spiritual entity which is created from God’s Spirit is co-natural with the Divine (that is, it is of a similar nature, though not the same essence), and 3) the union of body and a spirit-empowered soul forms one single living entity [nephesh].

The spiritual part of this single living entity created by God contains two separate functional units, much as a peach has two parts apart from the skin: a fruit part, and a seed part. However, when we think about what makes a peach a “peach” we usually have the fruit part in mind.  So also when we think about man’s spiritual essence or “soul” we usually only think about those identifiable intangible personal assets that we are conscious of, namely, our personality, our ego, our intellect, our emotions, our will, our psyche, and so on. The reason we forget to include our “spirit” in our associations is that we are not normally aware of the spiritual organ deep within us that the scripture calls “spirit”.  This part of us, our “seed” part, is just as much “soul” as our self-awareness part. But, just because it is beyond our normal self-awareness, we tend to ignore its existence.

What we normally consider the “soul” part is created as man’s control center, to manage the interface between man, his body, his senses, his mind and the natural space-time environment, while, at the same time, being connected through his “spirit” to the divine which transcends this space-time environment in which we exist. The “spirit” part is created to interface with the divine and contains the necessary faculties to do this. Jesus himself reiterated this fact when he spoke with the Samaritan “woman at the well”, telling her that God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship him in spirit and in truth[5]. Paul, who was clearly aware of the functional distinction[6] between soul (mind) and spirit (heart), says, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind (soul) is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind[7].

From this and many other scriptural references which affirm the above we see that our spiritual faculties, though intertwined with those of our soul, are there for the purpose of receiving Life from God and for man to fellowship with His Creator. It is that component of our being that is designated to interface God and therefore the enabler our fellowship with Him. What we normally consider our “soul” part, contains the faculties needed to interact with each other and the material universe, including our bodies. Our “spirit” part contains the faculties needed to interact with the divine.

God, through the scripture, tells us that man’s being is functionally composed of spirit, soul and body[8]. The fact that there are three facets or levels of awareness to our human nature may be compared to the statement that the human body is composed of a central nervous system, a circulatory system, a muscular system, a respiratory system, and a skeletal system. Just as the central nervous system can impact our circulatory system, so our spirit has influence over our soul and over our body and vice-versa. Just as sometimes problems in our central nervous system may be misdiagnosed as circulatory problems so problems in our spirit are sometimes misunderstood as being psychological problems. This does not mean that our spiritual faculties are one and the same as those of our soul. It merely means that what is happening in our spirit is reflected in our soul (and vice versa). One of the functions of the spirit is to communicate what it senses in the supernatural realm to the soul whose main function is to permit us to function in the natural realm.

In God’s original design, the spirit (heart) of man was meant to be in submission to the divine and to exercise direct influence over our “soul” just as the “soul” was to have direct influence over the body. When mankind fell from Grace, the faculties in man’s “spirit” became disconnected from God (the spirit “died”) and our “souls” became the dominant part of our nature. Jesus came to take on our death and revive the “spirit” component of our nature so that our renewed spirit could aspire to regain its God-inspired dominance and we could again be truly called God’s children (in the spiritual sense).

With this understanding in mind, the term “spirituality” denotes any improvement in our condition that begins to move our renewed spirit back into the place of influence originally designed by God. The process of improvement cannot begin unless our spirits are revived. Man cannot revive his own spirit, only God, through His Holy Spirit, can revitalize our spirits[9]. When Paul, speaking to the Corinthians says, “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly — mere infants in Christ[10], he is telling them, that although they are truly his brothers in Christ through baptism, he cannot speak to them in spiritual terms because they have not yet reached the place where their renewed spirits exert a direct influence on their minds (soul). Since the unspiritual man cannot understand the things of God[11], he must address them in terms of their reason, so that through their reason he can motivate them to come to spiritual maturity. That is why He exhorts them to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind[12].

The same is true today. I was just like those Corinthians. I was spiritually in Christ through baptism but my mind (soul) needed to be renewed so that I could begin to grow spiritually.  The first barrier I had to remove to receive God’s grace for renewal was to dethrone the “self” which had been ruling my mind (soul) and turn my life over to Jesus so that He and He alone would rule in me through my spirit. Then, as the Holy Spirit worked in me through meditation on the Word of God and prayer, my renewed soul was opened to receive more of God’s life by way of my spirit.

This symbiotic relationship between soul and spirit is what God intended for man. In this way man is led to integrate his spirit, soul, and body to bring about the wholeness for which God destined us. The final step in this integration is union with the Divine. Thus we understand, that true spirituality is achieved when we cooperate with God’s Grace by permitting the Holy Spirit to work through us in those activities which bring us to total integration with God’s will. This will in turn reflect itself in the wholeness (holiness) of our lives (spirit, soul, and body). This is true spirituality.  Anything that diverts us from this goal is unspiritual.

Realizing that we have a spiritual nature and learning to respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit through that nature is only the first step in spiritual growth. We must also come to the realization that the primary reason the Lord created us with such a capacity is so that we can delight in His presence to the point of total worship and for communion And fellowship with Him. At the same time, He also designed us with this spiritual nature so that He could manifest His Kingdom in this world through us, His children. In the process of bringing us to conformity us to the image of His Son, we are to be His partners in all the works He plans for this world[13]. We, therefore, have a great responsibility before God to work with His Grace and Anointing to perform His Will on this earth[14]. The way we do this is through prayer and resulting action. In doing this we become participants in bringing His Kingdom into manifestation in this world. This is, in essence, what we are asking when we pray: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven[15]”, as we say the “Lord’s Prayer”.

Our response to this Grace that the Father has freely provided through the Blood of Jesus is to keep our vessels pure and to abide in Him so that His power and anointing will flow through us to our society to bring His Love, His peace, and His justice to this world. For this reason, when we come into this renewed spiritual awareness we should freely and willingly rededicate ourselves and all of our activities to Him so that all that we undertake and accomplish is truly in His Name and not out of our own zeal and energy.


[1] Just as David was despised by his wife, Saul’s daughter for dancing before the Ark of the Covenant as He was leading the procession bringing it to Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 6:14-16)

[2] Catechism of the Catholic Church: 365, 366, 367

[3] Because of the inadequacy of our language the term “spirit” can be used in two different ways. One is to use the term as a description of the essence of the immaterial part of our being. The other way is to use the term to indicate the set of faculties attributable to a distinct spiritual “organ” within our immaterial being.

[4] The definitions found in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance imply that the primary distinction between Neshamah and Nephesh is that the former refers to  a  spiritual-level life energizing force while the latter refers to a the sentient-level soul life of a created being.

[5] John 4:24

[6]  Hereafter I will use the terms “soul” and “spirit” not  in reference to their essence (which are the same) but rather to their distinctiveness in faculties or functions, which is how scripture mainly uses these terms.

[7] 1 Corinthians 4:14-15

[8] 1 Thessalonians 5;23

[9] John 3:6, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit”

[10] 1 Corinthians 3:1

[11] 1 Corinthians 2:14

[12] Ephesians 4:23

[13]Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?”. (1 Corinthians 6:2)

[14] We must be careful to note that our performance of God’s will on Earth is not a condition for our salvation but rather the outcome of our acceptance of Gods free gift of salvation in Jesus, His Son.

[15] Matt. 6:10

[Excerpt from:  Thy Kingdom Come! Reflections on Personal Spirituality, Prayer and Worship. Copyright ©2006 – 2008 by Jorge Alfonso Madrid Sr.

Recommended Links
<>   §  The Prayer of the Inward Man
<>  § Releasing the Spirit
<>  §  Praying in the Spirit

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2011])

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Faith Challenges:  the Renewal of our Minds

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:1-2)

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Praying In the Spirit

Recognizing our need for a renewed mind

In this post, I take another look at the scriptural theme that we discussed in my prior article regarding our conformance to the “world” as being one of the primary impediments to fulfilling our purpose as Disciples of Christ. In that sharing I commented that the way we counter the enticement of the flesh to the ways of the world is by surrendering our very “selves” to the Holy Spirit in cooperation with His Grace so that He can begin the process of renewing our minds to enable us to discern the will of God’s in our lives.

Without such discernment and yielding to the will of the Father, we cannot truly become a living sacrifice because we will not have placed our own self-will on the altar of Love, as St. Paul exhorts us through the cited scripture. Unless we crucify the flesh (especially our egos) we will not be able to be fully responsive to carry out God’s will in our lives – because the ego is so deceptive that, unless we disconnect from it completely, even the religious things we do will be done to satisfy our “selves” and NOT for the Glory of the Father and His Son.

Jesus does not intend for us to bear this burden alone – indeed He offers to ease the burden by asking us to be yoked in Love to Himself (cf., Sweet Yoke of Love). For it is only in being yoked to Him and His Love that the Holy Spirit can begin the process of renewing our minds.

Yielding to the renewal of our minds

Yielding to the renewal of our minds

In this posting I intend to flesh out just what the “renewal of our minds” entails so we may more easily accommodate ourselves to the Graces the Holy Spirit will bring into our lives as He conforms us more and more to the image of Christ (cf., Rom. 8:29) by leading us to follow in His example:

…..

“Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.

  Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

Who, though he was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God

as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,

taking the form of a slave,

being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,

he humbled himself

and became obedient to the point of death—

even death on a cross.” (Phil.2:4-8)

The renewing of our minds, then, is the process the Holy Spirit uses to bring us to the point where we no longer have to ask ourselves. “what would Jesus do?” but instead, without constraint and in response to the agape Love that has  been deposited in us (Rom. 5:5)), we instinctively think and do what Jesus would do in similar circumstances. In bringing us to this point the Spirit works in the particular story of our life experiences to gradually bring the mind of Christ into manifestation in our lives so that we as the Apostle Paul may also say, “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”  But we have the mind of Christ.” (1Cor. 2:16 )

Our access to the mind of Christ is not just an upgrading of our own natural mental processes but an entry into the divine wisdom of God through direct revelation by the power of the Holy Spirit. For as St. Paul also says,

“… a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written,  ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.’ For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God…” (1 Cor. 2:6-12)

For most of us, the renewal of our minds is indeed a difficult task, for first of all we must divest ourselves of the mindset that has been ingrained in us by the world culture since our youth – the self-centered attitude that we must “look out for number one” because if you don’t look out for ourselves no one else will. And the associated attitudes that say: “It matters not how straight the gate/how charged with punishment the scroll/ I am the master of my fate/ I am the captain of my soul” and, that, you must do whatever it takes to survive in human society regardless of the moral fences you have to break.

No my brothers and sisters the TRUTH is that we are not our own (1Cor.6:19-20)! We have been bought at a price through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross and the ONLY way we can fulfill our destiny is to yield ourselves to HIM and to HIM alone so that He and HIS LOVE reigns in our hearts. We must make a decision to renounce the world and the flesh and walk in the Spirit through the renewal of our minds.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”  (Rom. 8:5-9)

In order to set your mind on the indwelling Spirit, you must rid yourself of all those attitudes that place you and your “self” at the center of your universe. You must renounce the false god of “self” and place Jesus at the center of all your life events, thoughts, actions and motivations. If you are to bear fruit for His Glory you must be firmly attached to the TRUE VINE (John 15:1), Jesus, the son of the Living God! For as He says, “without me you can do nothing” (Jn.15:5), and, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, No one comes to the Father but by me” (Jn.14:6).

Divesting ourselves of self-sufficiency, then, becomes one of our greatest challenges because it goes against the world mindset, But if we are attached to the TRUE VINE, He will be the provider of our strength, our resolve, and the faith that is required for the task. If we detach our selves from the vine we will be on our own and thus disable ourselves from brining forth fruit for His Kingdom!

Now, such a life dedicated to the Lord cannot be reached unless our relationship with Him deepens and we are able to discern His voice in us, through every moment of our lives (cf., On Hearing His Voice …) This level of communion and intimacy with the Divine requires that we go deeper and deeper in prayer through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the Light of His Word reaching our hearts.  We cannot come to this level through mere perfunctory religious activity or rote recitation of scripted prayer — it involves our total giving of our deepest self and the emptying of our hearts to Him so that He can place His desires in us. Even in this He will help us if we give ourselves totally to Him.

It is very important brethren that we permit the Holy Spirit to activate and inspire our reading of His Word. For, it is only through His inspiration that the Word can break through the veil of our human minds and reveal and activate the truths He wishes us to act on in faith. The more we imbibe of His Word and interact with the Holy Spirit, the more and deeper our relationship to Jesus becomes to the point where we like Paul can also say, “We have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16).

Now, it is true that all those who abide in Him have access to “His mind”, but if we let the cares and worries of the world occupy us, the “mind” of Christ will never be able to surface in our lives. We, like Jesus, must set time apart from the world to still our hearts and commune with the Divine so that the Spirit of His Love that has been poured into us (Rom. 5:5) may take the appropriate place of dominance in our lives.

As our trust and communion with the Lord increases so will our ability to activate our faith to bring forth fruit for His Kingdom out of the circumstances that He places before us in our lives. So many of us don’t realize that the world systems in which we are embedded affect our ability to live out our faith. This is because the negative emotions and attitudes the world promotes weaken our faith, just as Peter’s faith was weakened by the roar of the waves and the wind when he attempted to walk on water at Jesus’ behest (cf., Matt.14:28-31). For that reason it is important to ignore whatever attitudes the world is attempting to impose on us and to place our entire focus trust and faith in Jesus and His Word regardless of what is going on around us!

Through the renewal of our minds and our renewed fellowship with Christ we develop an increase in trust in HIM, His promises and His directives to us. In this way whatever the world says or thinks is placed into the irrelevant background of our lives, as it rightly should.

As our faith and fellowship with Christ increases through the renewal of our minds so also our ability to enter into worship is increasingly enhanced by the Holy Spirit. Although we may not realize it, the activities we currently categorize as “worship” are really only the means the Lord uses to bring our spirit to the level of awareness where we can enter into and experience true worship “in the Spirit and in truth”. One of the main reasons we are hindered is that our natural minds “get in the way” and act as a veil before the Holy of Holies. The renewal of our minds rips out that veil of self-consciousness and permits us to enter into the Spirit (or God-consciousness) without our human intellects getting in the way.

As our minds continue in the renewal process we will find ourselves being drawn more and more by the Spirit into the true worship that the Father desires (cf., John 4:23), a worship where we lose all consciousness of “self” and are drawn in to a spiritual union with the Divine – a state where He and He alone matters and NOT the attitude and postures of ourselves or others around us. Worship, true worship, only starts when our surrender to Him is so total and complete that our only awareness is of Him and of being enveloped in His Glorious Presence. It is the point where we, like Jacob, personally experience a “Beth El” (cf., Gen.28:10-17) and we can, like Jacob, say ” truly I have been in the Presence Of God”! The Lord has graciously provided the spiritual gifts that enable this entry into His Presence – one of these being “Praying or Singing in the Spirit“. Praised be His Holy Name!

Now, you may say or think to yourself, ” but I know the life I have lived and I am not worthy to enter into His Presence”.  That thought, in itself, brethren, is exactly what qualifies you to enter. For He himself said, “the first shall be last and the last first” (Matt. 19:30), whereas to the Scribes and the Pharisees, who thought themselves to be “first” He said, “…even the prostitutes and tax collectors enter in before you”(Matt.21:31). Yes you are qualified because, “…blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven”.

Recognizing your own unworthiness indicates your poverty of spirit and Fear of the Lord. But the blessing comes with recognizing that He took on your unworthiness to give you His worthiness.  All you need to do is throw yourself at His feet, repent and accept the robe of righteousness that He offers, His Robe of Glory that lets you come before the Heavenly Throne. Let yourself, then, be enveloped in Him and His Mercy by surrendering yourself to Him and His Love. Do this with a pure heart and you will enter into the Kingdom, and inherit the Promise of the Father!

In closing, brethren, I exhort you to deepen your relationship with Jesus so that you may fully realize the spiritual strength He provides us in facing the difficulties of life. He has not left us orphans (Jn. 14:18) to deal with the problems that face us on our own strength. Rather, He has sent us His Holy Spirit to indwell us, enlighten us, strengthen us and guide us through all the intricacies of our lives to reach the point where we are made whole in every sense, in spirit, soul and body. He desires to share with us every portion of our life experiences, our failures, and our successes, our pain and sorrows as well as our joy and happiness. He has a purpose for us but He can only achieve His purpose in us if we let Him.

As long as we want to be in control of our lives in both the material and spiritual spheres we will be disconnected from the TRUE VINE and really be “on our own”. I urge you therefore, do not cling to the world, do not cling to your fleshly pleasures and ambitions, cling only to the VINE. For only in abiding in HIM can the purposes of God for you be realized and you can bear fruit for His Glory!

Do not be afraid then of yielding yourselves to the Holy Spirit and receive all of the Gifts He has set aside for you – for other wise, how can He work in you and through you, if you, in your own willfulness and self-centeredness, refuse to accept the very Spiritual Gifts that will enable you to fulfill His purpose?

May the Lord renew your minds and bless you in all your undertakings for His Glory….. Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2011])

RECOMMENDED LINKS

<>  Sweet Yoke of Love

<>  Releasing the Spirit

<>  Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

<>  Hearing His Voice…. and Obeying it!
<> Praying In the Spirit
<>  Responding To the Spirit’s Call
<>  The Kingdom of God Our Spiritual Inheritance

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The Birth of Messiah and Us

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

(Luke 2:8-14)

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we approach the celebration of the birth of Messiah, the Christ, Let us prepare our hearts by humbling ourselves in the knowledge of whom it is we are coming to worship and our own unworthiness before Him.  For it is only in approaching Him in humility and repentance that we can fully experience His presence in our hearts, for it is to the poor in spirit that He reveals Himself and invites into His Kingdom.

The first persons invited to celebrate the birth of the Messiah were not those from the elite classes of Judea, certainly not its king or its princes or magistrates. Nor was it anyone from the religious class, the Priests and Sanhedrin, or the Pharisees and Sadducees. No, it was a group of poor shepherds tending their sheep who were called as first witnesses to the birth that changed destiny of humanity for all time – the birth of its savior-redeemer, indeed its King! Even the wise men, magi, or Kings from the east were strangers to Israel, but they came days or months later – it was this group of poor humble shepherds that were granted the privilege of being the first to honor the Messiah and be Blessed by His Presence – to be the first to see the Light of the World manifested in human form.

As it was then, so it is today, regarding our ability to come into the presence of the King of the Universe. Those who are considered last by human society, and consequently by themselves, are to be the first and those who are considered first by human society because of their status, whether religious, secular or political, will be last in coming to a renewed spiritual awareness of His Person, not because their status itself prevents them, but because their status puffs up their human pride and self-esteem to the point that it takes them longer open their hearts to be receptive to God’s grace and, thus, transition to the level of humility required to receive the spiritual awareness needed to come into His presence.

Unfortunately, the materialistic manner with which we celebrate the Christmas holidays works against us – for our social customs places the emphasis on the gifts (to each other) rather than on the Giver (of Himself for our salvation). Instead of leading us an awareness of our own unworthiness, our worldly traditions lead us to think more highly of ourselves than we really ought, thus blinding us to our individual need for salvation and diminishing the infinite value of the Father’s Gift of His only son for our redemption.

Note that the Father did not select any one from the esteemed classes of the time, Joseph, Mary, and the shepherds were from the poor and needy class which scripture terms the “Anawim” (Zeph.3:12).  “Anawim” is a Hebrew term meaning “poor,” “humble,” or “afflicted.” Some scholars note that, it came to mean those who, because of their condition, could not rely upon their own strength but had to rely completely upon God. These same scholars speculate that, because of their simple faith and piety, most of the early believers in Messiah were from the Anawim, the poor and needy class and composed their own Jewish-Christian canticles of praise for God’s salvation in Jesus.

Listen to what the Old Testament had to say regarding the Anawim:

1 Ah, soiled, defiled, oppressing city! 2 It has listened to no voice; it has accepted no correction. It has not trusted in the LORD; it has not drawn near to its God. 9 At that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord. 10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, my scattered ones, shall bring my offering. 11 On that day you shall not be put to shame because of all the deeds by which you have rebelled against me; for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain.12 For I will leave in the midst of you a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD– 13 the remnant of Israel; they shall do no wrong and utter no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouths. Then they will pasture and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid. (Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13)

With this scripture in mind Let us briefly review the list of the participants at the Birth of Messiah:

Joseph, was from a branch of the Davidic lineage (Jeconiah a descendant of Jehoiakim, cf. Jeremiah 36:1-32) that was under a curse, a divine curse that stated that no one from this lineage would succeed to the throne of David and would not prosper.

Mary, although a descendant of David, through Nathan, herself was under a cloud of shame because, to the uninformed, she became pregnant out of wedlock and thus was under a possible judgment of stoning.

Those who tended the sheep were from the lowest classes in Judea – they were usually uneducated, simple people living day-to-day in the most meager of circumstances, not being sure where their next meal would be coming from, relying totally on their trust in God.

Jesus, then, came from this class of disenfranchised people, the son of a carpenter, who offended His hometown residents when He claimed that God had anointed him. Essentially, they said to Him, “Who do you think you are? You are nothing but the son of a carpenter, you don’t have any religious training and we know all your relatives and they are also of no consequence, and here you are claiming to be God’s Messiah” (Luke 4:16-30).

Jesus’ disciples were no better, they were fishermen, tax collectors, political rebels, and people of no reputation. This, then, is the class of people the Lord calls to Himself, the disenfranchised, the despised, the poor in spirit. These are the ones the scriptures refer to as “my Hidden Ones”. These are the ones that the Lord told the despairing Elijah, that “… I have Seven Thousand who have not bowed the Knee to Baal” (Rom. 11:1-6).

This, my brothers and sisters is what we need to remind ourselves when the Lord calls us to discipleship. It is the grace to be formed and united to this class of people that we need to ask of the Lord as we approach Him on this the celebration of His Birth. Here is what the Apostle Paul says indirectly to us regarding our attitude in coming to Christ:

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature, God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:4-8)

It is only when we permit the Holy Spirit to purify us of our pride and self-centeredness, and begins to form us into the image of Christ, that we can approach the Babe in the manger of Bethlehem and present Him our gifts. Yes my bothers and sisters, I said “our gifts”, for you see, the gift He wants from us is our very selves, and only when we have stripped our selves of our attachments to this world and become poor in spirit that we are able to open and offer our presents before Him for the Glory of His Name!  Baruch ha Shem! Amen and Amen!

Keep in mind what Our Lord Jesus said to His disciples:

“…Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” (Matt. 19:23-29)

I confess to you my brethren that, I, myself  am struggling to be one of those who are poor in spirit and thus join myself spiritually to the Anawim, In this struggle I am having trouble in detaching myself from the affairs of this world and giving myself totally to the Lord.  I pray daily for the grace to draw closer and closer to Him and to the Anawim of old. Will you not join me, then my brothers and sisters, in this, my pilgrim quest, as I “… follow the Bright and Morning Star to the dawning of the Day, to the revelation of the Christ as He in His cradle Lay”? And, As you travel on your way, remember what our Master had to say..,”

“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. (John 15:18-21)

“… ‘I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes [anawim?]. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him’ ”. (Matt. 11: 25-27)

As you approach His presence in the hay, give yourself to Him today – become one of the Anawim and let Him reveal Himself to you this Christmas day !

With this said, I take leave for now, that I may go to worship the King on the day of His appearing. May the Lord richly bless you and your loved ones during this wonderful Christmas Season.

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimeaus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2010])

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Praying in the Spirit

Praying In the Spirit

Praying in the Spirit

“… if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unproductive. What should I do then? I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the mind also; I will sing praise with the spirit, but I will sing praise with the mind also. “ (1Cor.14:14 -15)

My Fellow Pilgrims,

There are several sayings of the Apostle Paul regarding “praying in the spirit” that I could quote to initiate the discussion on this subject, but I chose this one because it goes directly to the point – a point many of us would try to avoid. That is, that “praying in the spirit” involves praying in tongues and that when we pray in the spirit it is our “spirit” that is involved and that it is distinct from “praying with our minds”, that is, our soul. This distinction between soul and spirit is one many moderns seek to avoid.

Speaking or praying in tongues is one of the more controversial gifts of the Holy Spirit (as per, 1Cor. 12 ff) because many see praying in a language you don’t understand as a demeaning of our persons – especially our intellect. After all how can it be prayer at all if you don’t know what you are saying? How can spouting what appears to be a bunch of gibberish be called prayer? This mystery can only be understood if we properly understand that man has been endowed with a capability to transcend the natural – that capability is embedded in what scripture calls the “spirit” of man.

The main reason for our lack of understanding of this gift is that most of us Christians don’t believe or understand that God created us as a tri-partite being consisting of body, soul, and spirit. For most of us, the only levels of awareness we normally experience is at the body and soul level.  That is the awareness that come through our senses, our physical body and our intellect, thoughts, emotions, feelings and self-identity, that is, our soul. However there is within us, at the very center of our being a sense of awareness that is non-conceptual and non-verbal. This center of our beings is the where our conscience and our innermost unexpressed desires are formed and reside, it is what we might call “our secret place”, or what Jesus termed “our closet” in his sermon on the Mount. Paul also refers to it as our “inner man”. It is this place of inner awareness that the scriptures term “the heart of man” or “the spirit” of man (eg., Is. 57:15, Ezek. 18:31, Ezek. 36:26,  Ps.51:10, Heb. 4:12). It is at this level of awareness that we are enabled, by God to communicate with Him ”in the spirit”. This spiritual capability is there by God’s design so that He could, through this intimate sense of awareness, maintain a personal relationship with every individual human person. Because God is “spirit” it is only at this spirit-to-spirit level that we can commune with God. That is why Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that…

“… the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)

When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, however, this spirit-to-spirit connection with the Divine was broken, not only for them but for all their descendants, that is, humankind. So while we are still born with a spiritual sensitivity, that sensitivity is NOT attuned to the Divine, because our fallen nature is only attuned to the world and our own self-will and NOT to God’s will. So, it is in this sense that our spirit is termed “dead to God” and, thus, may only be revived by God Himself, because, ”only Spirit can beget spirit” (John 3:6).  For this reason, because of the Father’s love for us, His creation, He sent His beloved Son, Jesus, to pay the price for Adam’s sin and the sins of all humankind so that our spirits could be regenerated (1Ptr.1:23), thus enabling us to be restored to the relationship with the Divine for which we had originally been created, that is, to be His Children, to be formed into the image of His Son.

Without a renewed spirit to enable communion with the Father, not only is the sincerity of our worship hampered but our prayer life as well. That is why on several occasions Jesus rebuked the Scribes and the Pharisees for their hypocrisy in their observance of prayer and worship, saying to them …

“ You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, ….’” (Matt. 15:7-9)

Now, in order to function as a true child of God in the image of Christ, enabled for communion with the Father, we not only need a regenerated spirit but an empowered spirit as well. That is why Jesus told Nicodemus that …

“ … “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.” (John 3:5)

That is, that one needs to be converted and baptized in water in order to have a revived spirit and then you need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit to be empowered to share in Jesus’ ministry in this world. Jesus himself, although He was sinless, models this pathway for us in His baptism with water by John and His subsequent empowerment by the Holy Spirit. For our benefit, John the Baptist tells the seekers of his day that, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt:3:11)

In another place and in another setting, Jesus put it this way…

“Nor do men put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out, and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matt. 9: 17)

So it is, brothers and sisters, that before we can be filled with the  Holy Spirit’s empowerment we need to have “new wineskins” – a renewed spirit in Christ.  Then, and only then, can we receive and hold “the New Wine”, the infilling of the Holy Spirit and His empowering gifts within us.

The empowerment with the Holy Spirit is what we receive with the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. This empowerment is manifested through the Spiritual Gifts summarized in 1Cor. 12. Among the gifts we receive, is the gift of praying in tongues or speaking in other tongues. This gift is what enables us to “pray in the spirit”

This spiritual empowerment is absolutely necessary for the church to carry on the ministry of Jesus. That is why he told His disciples, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49)

This empowerment by the Holy Spirit is the Promise of the Father (Acts 1:4) that was given to the Messiah and was than imparted by Him to His disciples at Pentecost and to all believers who have converted and been baptized in water. This is testified to us in the book of Acts when Peter preached to the astounded crowd after the Spirit had fallen upon them.  When they were convicted in heart by the message, they asked, “what then shall we do?”.  He told them: “… repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and [then] you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.” (Acts 2:38-39)

In a later post I will go into more detail on all of the Empowerment Gifts of the Spirit (as distinguished form the Sanctifying Gifts on which I have already posted some articles). Right now the emphasis of this article is to advise you as to the importance of “praying in the spirit” and why there is such a need to accept and exercise this gift for our personal edification and for the good for the community.

Now the Apostle Paul said that he would prefer that everyone would prophesy as opposed to speaking in tongues.

“Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy. For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God; for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, those who prophesy speak to other people for their up-building and encouragement and consolation.

Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the church. Now I would like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. One who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.” ( 1 Cor 14;1-5)

The reason that he said this is because prophecy works directly to the building up of the Body of Christ and that was a more urgent objective to him, at that time, than the building up of the individual. However, in our modern culture today, If we neglect the spiritual growth of the individual, the community will also suffer because that neglected individual will not be able to contribute to the community if his or her spiritual growth and thus, the maturity of their gifts, is not at the stage where they can contribute meaningfully to the growth of the community.  In fact they may become a drag on the community because they may require more personal ministry than those who have matured and are better able to minister to others.

One of the reasons we lose many of our youth to the world today is exactly because their spirits have not been activated through praying in the spirit and, thus, sensing a spiritual emptiness in the rote expression of their religious traditions, they wander off into the world in a vain attempt to fill that vacuum in their spirits.

Much of this could be avoided if we introduced our children to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit at an early age, especially the gift of “praying in the spirit”. For you see this gift continues the infilling process of the Holy Spirit in us, The more we pray in the spirit the more of the spirit we imbibe, bringing us to a greater spiritual maturity. This spiritual maturity begins to provide the infilling our spirit is seeking turning us closer and closer to the Divine.  It also permits us to enter into worship in a way that we could never experience at the soul level alone. For instance, John the Revelator was in alone in a cave on the island of Patmos on the Lord’s day worshipping “in the spirit” when he was caught up into Heaven and into the Sanctuary of God (Rev. 1:10)

Praying in the Spirit is usually manifested in a person’s private prayer closet but it may also come up in some of the smaller more cohesive prayer groups where the members all participate in prayer simultaneously as led by the Spirit and where the prayer in tongues (in the spirit) spontaneously erupts into singing in the spirit in praise of the Divine.  In such cases the gift also helps build up the community. The fruit of this type of prayer is the wisdom and love needed to appropriately exercise the other gifts within a community.

Now, speaking in tongues may manifest not only in personal prayer but it may also be the media whereby the Lord wishes to express a word of prophecy to the community. In such cases it is necessary that there be someone in the community to interpret so that it can be of benefit to all.  One is also free to ask the Holy Spirit to interpret their prayer language when praying in private.

One of the main reasons that individuals resist accepting this gift is the erroneous concept that you are going to be controlled by the Holy Spirit like a puppet. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Holy Spirit values your freedom even more than you do. You see the true agape Love He desires in you can only be derived from a free spirit – otherwise it is not agape Love. What the Holy Spirit is seeking is your freely given cooperation, in Love, so that He may inspire you to freely open yourself to what He is giving you. When you do, He gives you an uplift in your spirit that brings you a joy and peace that is beyond understanding and you also experience the intimacy of the presence of God in your hearts. It is this, His presence in you, which fills you and satisfies the longing of your spirit, for this, the purpose for which we were created.

If you really want to know what you are praying in the spirit, just ask the Holy Spirit for understanding. St, Paul, in fact, tells us that we can be praying in our understanding at the same time as we are praying in the spirit (1Cor. 14:14-15).  When you begin praying in the spirit you will find that you do not lose the capability to pray in the understanding at the same time. In fact, this should indicate to you that our spirit and our intellect are two distinct faculties that can operate independently.

Prayer, true prayer that reaches the heart of God, must come from the depths of a pure and sincere heart – a heart that resonates with the Love and Compassion that is in the Father’s Heart, The closer our prayer is to the desires of the Father’s heart the closer that prayer is to being answered. And, because, our access to the heart of God is through His Spirit that is in us, it is, when we pray in the spirit, that is, out of the depths of our heart, the sanctuary of His Spirit, that our innermost desires become one with His and our prayer is, de facto, “according to His Will”. Of course, if you are NOT “in Christ” you have no access to the throne of God or His sanctuary and need to get in Christ as quickly as possible, through confession, repentance, and conversion ( see Related Links).

Praying in the Spirit is the gift that permits us to enter into that sanctuary and where we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit so that our prayers are inspired by His Desires – The desires of the Living God.  In order to express these desires through our prayers in the purity they deserve, the Holy Spirit speaks through us in an unknown tongue so that our own intellect and human motives will not taint the pure prayer that comes from the heart of God through us.

The is why the Apostle says that those who speak in other tongues are not speaking so that other people may understand but they are speaking mysteries (praying secretly) to God (who does understand) (1Cor. 14:1-5).

The exercise of this gift permits the Holy Spirit to use us as His agents, through prayer, to ask for those things the Father desires to achieve in us and through us so that His will might be accomplished and His Kingdom might be manifested in this world.

Now, it is possible for us, using our human abilities, to pray the same prayer with our understanding, but because of our limitations it would take many hours of meditative prayer to get to the depths of our prayer needed to obtain the same level of purity and harmony with the Lord’s desires that praying in the spirit can achieve (see the article on St. Theresa and the Four Levels of Prayer in the related Links).

Thus, from its operation in us, we see that this gift is a supernatural tool that the Holy Spirit uses to permit our very common and otherwise very limited human nature to participate in bringing forth God’s Kingdom without requiring the human effort and prayer talent required to achieve the same level of prayer and communion with the Father’s heart.

We also understand from experience that the practice of this gift increases our spiritual awareness to the Father’s will and desires so that our own spiritual growth is enhanced through the continuous practice of this gift. Our increased maturity, in turn, will assist the community through the increased wisdom and love that flows through our service to others.

And, of course, we must never forget the Apostle’s admonition that, unless we practice the spiritual gifts out of unconditional, selfless agape love, it gains us nothing.

“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor. 13.1-3)

I pray brethren that this has been of benefit to you and an encouragement to receive and practice the gift of praying in the spirit!

May the Lord richly bless you as He takes you deeper in prayer through the gifts of His Holy Spirit!

Your brother in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2010])

RELATED LINKS

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

The Double Portion Anointing

The Kingdom of God: Our Inheritance

St. Theresa: Regarding Prayer

Releasing the Spirit

The Key Of Knowledge

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