From: Forgotten God
Before we delve further into this conversation about the Spirit, I believe some other fears need to be identified and dealt with. One concern I’ve often heard (and felt) is, what if I pray for the Holy Spirit and nothing happens? What if I ask for more of the Spirit’s fruit in my life and don’t see any apparent “results”? It’s scary to pray boldly for change or freedom from sin, because if nothing happens, then doesn’t that mean God failed? Doesn’t that mean his Spirit isn’t all we’ve been told he is?
I think the fear of God failing us leads us to “cover for God.” This means we ask for less, expect less, and are satisfied with less because we are afraid to ask for or expect more. We even convince ourselves that we don’t want more – that we have all the “God” we need or could want. I can’t imagine how much it pains God to see his children hold back from relationship with the Holy Spirit out of fear that he won’t come through. How much it grieves him to watch his children ignore the promises he’s made throughout scripture due to fear that those promises won’t be kept! Empowering his children with the strength of the Holy Spirit is something the Father wants to do. It’s not something we have to talk him into. He genuinely wants to see us walk in his strength.
When Jesus was on Earth, he said to his disciples, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13) God is a good Father who wants to give good gifts to his children. Sometimes I forget this truth and beg as though he needs convincing. It’s as ridiculous as if my kids thought they needed to beg me to hug them. It delights my heart to hug them.
Do you believe that God in Heaven gives his Spirit to those who ask? Do you really believe it? This truth and what is means is so incredible that no one who actually believes it could then fail to ask for the Holy Spirit.
In Acts, after Jesus has been resurrected and ascended to Heaven, Peter addressed a crowd and declared, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” (v. 2:38). We’ve already seen that God promises to give his Spirit to those who ask. Here we see that we receive the Holy Spirit when we begin to follow Christ.
All this leads to a question we cannot escape: Does God really give the Holy Spirit to those who ask, or was Jesus lying when he said that? I have found that it comes down to faith: Do you believe God keeps his promises or not? Do your prayers and actions give evidence of your belief?
So God has promised to give us his Spirit if we ask, if we repent and are baptized, and it comes down to whether we believe him and act upon that promise. I realize that some of you reading this book have asked the Holy Spirit to do something and have not experienced the results you anticipated. Now you fear asking again because it would weaken your faith if God “fails to act” again. I’ve heard many people question God for not responding when they prayed in faith. I don’t doubt that these people prayed in faith, but the question is whether they prayed for things God has promised. Often, it’s the un-promised requests that God answers with a, “No.”
There is a huge difference between believing what God has promised and praying for things you’d like to be true. I encourage you to pray confidently for what God has promised. Don’t put your hope in what others promise or what you’ve been told you’ll “get” if you are a “good Christian,” (e.g., a good job, financial success, the perfect spouse, healthy children, a big house, etc.). And ultimately, you need to stake your faith in God alone, not in the gifts (good as they may be) that he gives. It really comes down to trust. Do you trust God that when he says, “No,” or, “Not in this way,” to you, you still believe he is good and doing what is best?