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How We Can Pray to the Holy Spirit

Excerpted from the October 3 sermon, "Asking for the Holy Spirit," on Luke 11:5-13:

"Jesus says, 'All you got to do is ask. Just ask.' But see, asking is an act of faith. Asking is an act of faith and it shows that your heart and mind are open."

Let me tell you what the Holy Spirit does. And I can’t tell you everything the Holy Spirit does. That would be a 42-hour sermon (which would be awesome), but you probably didn’t prepare for that, so I’ll give you a short summary of some of the things the Holy Spirit does and how then we can pray to him, asking him to help us because, quite frankly, we need his help.

1. The Holy Spirit will lead and guide you in the truth.

"The Spirit of truth . . . will guide you into the truth." John 16:13 "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth." John 17:17
The Holy Spirit is the one that will lead and guide you in the truth. That’s what Jesus says. So the Bible is the truth. Who wrote the Bible? God the Holy Spirit. That’s the Holy Spirit. It’s what it says in 2 Timothy 3:16, "All Scripture is God-breathed." Peter says people didn’t just make up the Bible. They were carried along by the Holy Spirit. Those who authored the pages of Scripture were Spirit-filled, Spirit-led. So if you want to know the truth, it starts in prayer. "Holy Spirit, thank you for being the Spirit of truth. Holy Spirit, thank you for writing the Scriptures through human authors. Thank you that they’re true. Holy Spirit, I want to know the truth, so please come and teach me the truth through the Scriptures, which are true." You think the Holy Spirit’s going to answer that prayer, yes or no? Every time. Jesus says, "All you got to do is ask. Just ask." But see, asking is an act of faith. Asking is an act of faith and it shows that your heart and mind are open. How many of you are in various situations where maybe you’re mediating a conflict or you’re in the middle of a conflicted situation and there’s different opinions and perspectives and you go, "I don’t know what the truth is here." You know what you do? Pray. "Holy Spirit, Jesus said to ask for you. I’m asking for you. Tell me what the truth is. I hear one side, I hear the other, I get totally conflicted, confused. I don’t know what the truth is. I just want to know the truth. Holy Spirit, you know the truth. Please reveal to me the truth." Do you think he’ll answer that prayer? Of course he will. Again, you don’t ask for a good thing and get a bad thing from a good God. After the jump, how the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, gives you words and a heart of worship:

2. The Holy Spirit will convict of sin.

"He will convict the world concerning sin." John 16:8
You ever have those days? You’re just not feeling it. You say, "I know the Bible says not to do this, but that’s what I’m going to do, twice." Right? "Because I’m just feeling rebellious and stubborn and foolish and hardhearted and stiff-necked and indifferent. "I should care, but I don’t. And it’s not that I don’t know the truth, it’s that I don’t like it." You say, "What do you do?" Go to the Holy Spirit. Say, "Holy Spirit, Jesus said you’d convict me. I’m not feeling it, but I’m inviting you to convict me. Let me feel what you feel, see what you see, think what you think about my sin." Do you think he’ll answer that prayer? He will.

"Here’s what we can do: We need to pray for him. Because we can’t guilt religion [on] him."

You can even do this with your children. This happened many times with my kids over the years. I’ll give you one example with one of my sons that comes to mind. When he was little, my wife was correcting him and the more she corrected him, the worse it got. (You got a kid like that? Were you a kid like that?) And she finally came to me, she’s like, "I don’t know what to do with him. I tell him, ‘No,’ and he does it twice. And I come to him and ask him if it bothers him, he says, ‘No.’ He gets a really scary-looking face and he just keeps escalating. It gets worse. He’s stubborn. He is really stubborn. What do we do with him?" I say, "Well, here’s what we can do: We need to pray for him. Because we can’t guilt religion [on] him, we can’t threaten him, we can’t negotiate with him. ‘Hey, if you obey you get a sucker.’" Because all that is is a hostage negotiation. All we’re raising there is an eventual bank robber, right? So I held him, kiss him on the head, "I’m your daddy, I love you, I care about you." [I] draw him near, let him know there’s lots of affection, put my hand on his head, "Holy Spirit, Jesus says that you can convict of sin. Mama and I, we’re not making any progress here. His heart’s getting hard, his neck’s getting stiff. Holy Spirit, we invite you to reveal to our little boy his sin, convict him of it, break his heart over it, bring him to repentance. Help him to learn to be an obedient boy, not just to be a good boy, but to be a holy boy. In Jesus’ name, Amen." Kiss him, hug him, love him.

"You don’t just ask for the Holy Spirit once. There’s this ongoing relationship as you understand who the Holy Spirit is and what he does."

I can still remember, he gave me this stink eye look, and I thought, "Yeah, that didn’t work at all. Oh, boy." And he goes away and he comes back a little later. Transformed child. Just looks in the eye, says, "Mom, Dad, I’m sorry. I was thinking about it, and you know, I’ve just been a real brat today. I’ve been very selfish. I’ve not thought of the other kids and I made Mom cry and I made the day hard." And he’s crying and he’s weeping and broken. You know what? The Holy Spirit answered that prayer. So sometimes in our own life, we can pray for conviction. In the lives of others, we can pray for conviction. Here’s the big idea I’m trying to communicate: You don’t just ask for the Holy Spirit once. There’s this ongoing relationship as you understand who the Holy Spirit is and what he does. You just keep making requests of him to help you because you need his help.

3. The Holy Spirit will teach you what to say.

"The Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you are to say." Luke 12:12 "For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." Romans 8:26
You ever not know what to say? You’re in a meeting, you’re counseling, you’re working, "I don’t know what to say." You know what you do? Pray. You can pray silently. Unlike Satan, God knows your thoughts. God hears your prayers. "God, tell me what to say. I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to say the wrong thing." And then you open your mouth and you say whatever the Holy Spirit has given you. And for me, quite frankly, I know not everything I say is from the Holy Spirit. But for me, when I preach I’m more concerned that I’ve repented of sin, I’ve spent time with the Lord, and I’ve listened to the Holy Spirit and I get up not with everything memorized and rote, but just wanting to be led by the Spirit and to do my best to serve you. I apologize for the times that I haven’t, but I want to speak by the power of the Holy Spirit and I want him to tell me what it is that you need to hear. And so, sometimes some of you are really stressed over what you’re going to say. Be more concerned about your connection to the Holy Spirit. He’ll tell you exactly what to say. Now, if you come to the Holy Spirit, say, "Holy Spirit, please tell me what to say," do you think he’ll answer that prayer? Yeah, he will. Jesus says just ask.

4. The Holy Spirit will give you a heart of worship.

"… worship by the Spirit of God." Philippians 3:3
Do you ever say, "You know, I don’t feel like going to church. I don’t feel like listening to Mark for an hour. I don’t feel like singing the songs. I don’t feel like raising my hands. I don’t feel like praying the prayers. I’m not feeling it"? What you don’t do then is try and religiously guilt yourself into it. You ask the Holy Spirit, "Holy Spirit, you never get tired of adoring Jesus. You never get tired of glorifying the Father. You never get tired of being a worshiper. Please indwell me. Please fill me. Please empower me. Please enable me to worship. To worship. Because I don’t have it. But you, Holy Spirit, are the perfect, unceasing worshiper." Do you think the Holy Spirit will answer that prayer? Do you think the Holy Spirit will answer that prayer? Well, let’s see. All right, here’s what I’m going to ask you to do. Raise your hands. Repeat after me:
Father God, you are a good Father. Lord Jesus, you’re a good savior. Holy Spirit, you’re the greatest gift. Please come to me. Please fill me. Please teach me to worship forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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