PRAYING TO THE HOLY SPIRIT.
The fact that there are only a few instances of prayer to the Holy Spirit, and these are only when He is named with the other Persons of the Trinity, has led some persons to refrain from praying to the Paraclete. But there are good reasons for the infrequency of prayer to the Third Person of the adorable Trinity.
When we take into consideration the disposition of the Spirit to conceal Himself in magnifying the Son and the Father revealed in the Son, and when we note the fact that the Holy Spirit is the inspirer of the Bible, it is natural that there should be a comparative silence respecting honors ascribed to Himself. He may purposely have omitted from the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles and the Revelation, the record of the adoration of Himself by men and angels. This would have been in harmony with His mission to glorify Christ and not Himself.
Again, to give prominence to His claim to be worshipped might interfere with our dependence on Him to suggest that we should pray for and to make intercession within us.
If it is His special function not only to speak to and deal with, but also to speak and work through, the man whom He renews and sanctifies, we can just so far understand that He the less frequently presents Himself for our articulate adoration.
The believer's relation to the Spirit is not so much that of direct adoration as of a reliance which wholly implies it.
The equality of the three divine Persons in unity is formulated in the Christian covenant and commission: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matt. xxviii. 18, 19 ).
Richard Watson, the standard theologian of Methodism for one hundred years, says on this text:
The form exhibits three persons without any note of superiority or inferiority, except the mere order in which they are placed. It conveys authority in the United name, and the authority is therefore equal. It supposes . . . faith, that is, not merely belief, but, as the object of religious profession and adherence, trust in each, or collectively in the one name which unites the three in one. It implies devotion to the service of each, the yielding of obedience, the consecration of every power of mind and body to each, and therefore each must have equal right to this surrender and to the authority which it implies. (Institutes, Vol. 1, page 635.)
"Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire
And lighten with celestial fire,"
and the "Veni, Sancte Spiritus," thus in part translated by Ray Palmer:
"Come, Holy Ghost, in love
Shed on us from above
Thine own bright ray!
Divinely good Thou art;
Thy sacred gift impart
To gladden each sad heart;
O come today!"
Since the Spirit, equal in power and majesty to the Father and the Son, is the agent by whom both touch beIleving souls and impart the wealth of their love, it is natural that He should also be the object of devotion and that His ministration of grace should be invoked, at least in impassioned ejaculatory prayer.
Here we note an error in the Plymouth Brethren, who discourage prayer for the Holy Ghost because He was given once for all on the day of Pentecost. This error arises from overlooking two facts: 1. That the spiritual capacity of the normal believer is ever increasing and needs an ever-enlarging fulness of the Spirit. It will not do to confound mechanical fulness with vital fulness. Dr. William Arthur's illustration of the difference between these is worth repeating. At evening fill two vessels with milk, an earthen pitcher and a healthy baby. In the morning you will find the pitcher full and the baby empty and crying to be filled again. The Christian is not an earthen pitcher which can be kept mechanically full, but a "newborn babe desiring the sincere milk of the word, that he may grow thereby." Hence the propriety of constant prayer for the Spirit to be more and more fully realized. 2. Another fact not noted by the Brethren is the example of repeated asking and receiving of the Spirit even in Pentecostal days. On the first day after Christ arose the apostles received the Holy Ghost from the mouth of Jesus (John xx. 22), and after forty days they were in a ten days' prayer meeting with one accord in prayer for the Holy Spirit in larger realization of His presence within them, as we infer from Peter's sermon and its glorious sequel, the tongues of fire.
The law of spiritual growth is by successive uplifts or baptisms of the Spirit. By a study of the Acts of the Apostles we find that the same persons who "were all filled with the Holy Ghost" (Acts ii. 4) were a few days or weeks afterwards, again in answer to prayer, "all filled with the Holy Ghost" (iii. 31).
"Prayer is the Christian's vital breath;
We enter heaven by prayer."
What is the object for which the believer prays except it be for an ever-increasing fulness of the Spirit?
But did not Christ refer to the Holy Spirit when He said to the woman at the well, "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst"? Yes but the tense of the verb "drinketh" denotes continued appropriation. If the Christian thirsts for any other water, it is because he has ceased to drink of Christ's "living water." Says Bengel,
Truly that water, as far as it depends on itself, has in it an everlasting virtue, and when thirst returns, the defect is on the part of the man, not of the water.
The figure means, this water will once for all be received into the inner nature, will be immanent in man, and will attend him through every stage of his being, even to eternity. The need of an increase of this water is not thereby excluded.