In the New Testament, we learn how God came to earth in bodily form in the person of Jesus Christ. Even though Jesus is no longer with us physically, God has chosen to still be with us in the person of the Holy Spirit (also named the Comforter, the Counselor, the Helper, and the Advocate in various Bible translations). Before His ascension, Jesus promised His disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit to be with them and to support them. Jesus said "But when the Comforter comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth, who comes from the Father, He will testify regarding me" (John 15:26). As was promised, the disciples became filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). The Holy Spirit was within them (John 14:17) and became their divine support system. The Spirit gave them comfort, knowledge of the Truth, guidance, and strength so that they could witness for Jesus, proclaim the Gospel, and deal with persecution. The Holy Spirit was essentially the power of God working within them (Acts 1:8).
As people of faith, we too can have the blessing of this comforting support from the Holy Spirit, if we but remember to open our hearts and ask for it when we pray. Jesus' followers quickly learned that the Holy Spirit is given to those who pray. In Acts 4, Peter and John were imprisoned and questioned by the chief priests for teaching the people about Jesus. Upon their release, they and their followers joyously raised their voices in prayer, acknowledging God and asking for His blessing on their ministry. Suddenly, they felt the power of the Holy Spirit: "And when they had prayed, the place in which they were assembled was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they continued to speak the Word of God with freedom and boldness and courage" (Acts 4:31). Jesus Himself encouraged His disciples to pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit: "If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him" (Luke 11:13). And it is reassuring to know that when we pray to receive the Holy Spirit, we are praying for a "good gift" that we truly need and that God has promised us and wants us to have.
The Bible tells us to embrace the presence of the Holy Spirit and to allow Him to teach and lead us, so that we might "live in the Spirit" and live worthy lives as God's children (Romans 8:5-6, 13-16, Galatians 5:16). We may not always be fully aware of it, but we should know that our good conduct and our good deeds are actually manifestations of the Holy Spirit working in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23). And the Spirit's presence should give us a welcome sense of peace and happiness. It is also especially comforting to know that in addition to the other support we receive, the Holy Spirit, as our advocate, also intercedes and prays for us when we are clueless and unable to formulate our own prayers (Romans 8:26-27). What amazing grace!
The Holy Spirit is one of God's great gifts to us, and we should not overlook the essential role that the Holy Spirit can play as the presence of God in our lives. The Spirit is given to those who pray, and we should actively seek and welcome this divine, comforting support. The Disciple Group suggests that you ponder the Holy Spirit and that, whenever you pray, you include a request for the Holy Spirit to be with you and to be at work in your life. Let us hope and aspire to live like Jesus' disciples, who found themselves “continually filled with joy and the Holy Spirit" (Acts 13:52).