Saturday 16 April: Lent 2011

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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’

John 14

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

From these words it follows that, when I pray for the Holy Spirit to dwell in my heart, I am joining my prayer with that of Jesus. The Lord gives just one condition for my part: that I love him and keep his commandments. This may sound like two conditions but, as the Gospels make clear, the two conditions are one and the same.

How then can I know if this prayer has been answered? What evidence can I expect?

Inwardly, by giving his Spirit, God pours his love into our hearts, and testifies to our spirits that we are children of God. The believer will recognise the Spirit’s presence deep within their heart or spirit. In other words the believer will feel him inside.

Outwardly the Holy Spirit brings a peace that passes understanding, a love that is beyond knowledge and an indescribable joy. The Holy Spirit will turn our hearts to goodness, kindness, gentleness and self control and imparts to us spiritual knowledge, wisdom, healing and discernment and groans of prayer that words cannot express.

Therefore we can expect to feel joy and peace in our hearts. We can expect to speak and hear words of wisdom and knowledge. We can expect to impart healing.

Our thinking may tend to Greek dualism of ideal versus actuality or spiritual versus physical, or symbolic versus real, but it is not so! Life is much more integrated than that. Invisible realities and physical realities interweave and overlap, separated by only a hair’s breadth.

So our prayer is that our encounter with the Holy Spirit will be seen, felt or heard in the physical realm albeit that I ask that ‘the Holy Spirit may dwell in my heart.’