Friday 15 April: Lent 2011

lent-fp3_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb

You are encouraged to pray the prayer, pause, read the scripture, pause, read the reflection, and then pray the prayer again.

The Breastplate Prayer

May the yoke of the Law of God be upon this shoulder,
The coming of the Holy Spirit be on this head,
The sign of Christ be on this forehead,
The hearing of the Holy Spirit be in these ears,
The smelling of the Holy Spirit in this nose.
The vision that the people of heaven have be in these eyes,
The speech of the people of heaven in this mouth,
The work of the Church of God in these hands
The good of God and of neighbour in these feet.
May God dwell in this heart,
And this person belong entirely to God the Father.

‘May the Holy Spirit dwell in my heart’

Psalm 51

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
   and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
   or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
   and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
   so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
   you who are God my Saviour,
   and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
   and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
   you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
   a broken and contrite heart
   you, God, will not despise.

It is in this moment of humility that the Bible describes the Spirit of God for the very first time as the ‘Holy Spirit’. In the same way that David asks God not to take away his Holy Spirit, today we pray for the Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Like David we can back no assumption that our walk with in the Holy Spirit will happen automatically today. Jesus said: ‘I will remain in you if you remain in me.’  It is ‘through faith’ says Paul that the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts. ‘You remain in me,’ says Jesus, ‘if my words remain in you.’ It is precisely in order to live Jesus’ words that I offer my head, forehead, eyes, ears, hands, feet and heart; daily renewing my obedience and love for my Saviour. It is good that I renew these things daily because without my deliberate attention my natural tendency is to forget anything that lies beyond myself.

A life of selfishness is certainly easier than to continue steadfast in grace and godly fervour. It is easier to yield to temptation than it is to resist. It is easier, for instance, to want payback for wrongs than it is to forgive a person from the heart. It is certainly easier to continue unchanged than to repent; to give up rather than to persist in prayer; easier to doubt than to believe; easier to let my mind wander from day to day than to hold in my mind the life, the cross, the resurrection and the love of Christ. In those and other ways Christ’s is the harder choice and the narrower way.

That is why God has set me among brothers and sisters in the faith, and why he commands us to ‘encourage one another daily’ and ‘spur one another on to love and good deeds’. Because every believer needs this spurring and encouragement.

But, the truth is that no matter how much my brothers and sisters might bless me and keep me, spur me and encourage me, they can never believe for me, for only I can open my own heart to God. Only I can admit his Spirit into my heart. Only I can open that door.

So, although by faith I stand united with the family of God, I must stand before God as an individual and simply ask on my own behalf that:

‘the Holy Spirit dwell in my heart.’