This Pentecost Sunday Prayer celebrating the gift of the Holy Spirit asks God to renew the supernatural filling of the Holy Spirit originally given to the early believers in a dramatic display of empowerment. Pentecost has been called the birthday of the church because it was a turning point of explosive energy and ability for ordinary people to evangelize and grow in faith. On Pentecost, we affirm that this same power is available to us today.
Pentecost Sunday Prayer Celebrating the Gift of the Holy Spirit
Dear God, Today we look with wonder at the miraculous changes that come into the world through the gift of your Holy Spirit. We thank you for the disciples who waited on your promised gift and were astonished by the transforming and transfixing power that forever changed their lives and the course of humankind.
We thank you for the great mystery and majesty of the Holy Spirit that is beyond our imagining. And we are humbled that such a glorious one would grace our humble lives with His nearness by being always with us and within us.
We acknowledge and desire all of the benefits of the Holy Spirit. We pray for his help to remember Christ’s words, to empower us in our weakness, to convict our hearts and to speak truth to our lives. Grant us his counsel as he guides us and intercedes for us when our minds can’t form the right words.
We ask for a fresh outpouring of your Holy Spirit on us today. Make our hearts and spirits receptive to his presence. May we set aside our own desires and plans and allow the Holy Spirit to fill us, move us and use us as conduits of God’s grace and love.
Come Holy Spirit, fill our hearts to overflowing with your power from on high. Amen.
About this Pentecost Sunday Prayer Celebrating the Gift of the Holy Spirit
What Jesus told his disciples he was leaving but the Holy Spirit was coming
Before his death, Jesus told his disciples that it was better that he leave them because this would allow the Holy Spirit to come and be inside their hearts and spirits in a supernatural way. (see John 16:7)
Jesus calls him the Counselor and Spirit of Truth
The Bible says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – 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…All of this I have spoken while still with you. But the counselor, 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.” (John14:16,17,25,26 NIV)
Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as a supernatural being
Notice that Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit not as “it” like an energy source but rather as “him,” a supernatural being like Jesus, a Counselor with a will, a purpose, and the ability to empower, convict and act.
The purpose of the Holy Spirit that Jesus told his disciples before his ascension
After Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead, he spent time on earth appearing to his followers and teaching them. On one occasion when they were eating together he told them:
“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4,5 NIV )
Soon afterwards, when the time came when Jesus was about to ascend to heaven by being taken up into the clouds, he again spoke to them about the Holy Spirit. This time he described an important reason why they needed to be empowered in this mysterious way. It was to enable them to spread faith in Jesus to people worldwide.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NIV)
Jesus was counting on his followers to do a task that wasn’t humanly possible for a group of ordinary people like the disciples.
The Dramatic Day that Pentecost Happened in the early church
After the ascension, the disciples gathered together in an “upper room” in Jerusalem where they were staying. The Bible says, “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brother.” (Acts 1:14 NIV)
The Jewish festival of Pentecost
The Bible tells us that the followers of Jesus were all together in the upper room to celebrate a Jewish festival called Pentecost. This celebration comes 50 days after Passover and was a time to thank God for the first fruits of the grain harvest.
The strong wind and the tongues of fire
Here’s a description of what happened from Acts 2:2-4 (NIV):
“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirt and began to speak in other tongues as the Sprit enabled them.”
The crowds that gathered
A curious crowd soon gathered made up of visitors from many different countries. The people in the crowd were astonished that they were hearing testimonies about God’s great power in their own native tongues from strangers who had never learned their language.
The sermon that brought in 3,000 believers
Under the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter stood up and spoke to the crowd, connecting what was happening to prophecies from Joel that said, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people…I will pour out my spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above…And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:17,18,19,21 NIV quoting from Joel 2 in the Old Testament.)
After Peter tells the crowd about Jesus, 3,000 of them are converted on the spot. Peter tells them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is of you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord will call.” (Acts 2:38,39 NIV)
The astounding power of the early church after receiving the Holy Spirit
The end of the second chapter of Acts shows the amazing transformation of the followers. It says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.” (Acts 2:42,43 NIV)
Further Scripture References to the Holy Spirit
The fruit of the Spirit
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Galatians 5:22,23 NIV
The gifts of the Spirit
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord…Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge… to another faith… to another gifts of healing… to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Sprit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. I Corinthians 12:4-11 NIV
The Holy Spirit’s work to help us have spiritual rebirth
Jesus said, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:6-8 NIV
The Holy Spirit as breath
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. With that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:21,22 NIV
The Holy Spirit as dove
“I (John) baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Jesus replies, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:11,13-17 NIV
The receiving of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John place their hands on the, and they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:14-17 NIV
My personal experiences with the Holy Spirit
The Charismatic Revival of the 1960’s
I grew up in a mainline Protestant church during the Charismatic Revival of the 1960’s where there was a great sweep of renewed power and spirituality powered by the Holy Spirit. The word Charismatic is derived from the Greek word charism which means gift. The movement was so named because those touched by it emphasized operating in the power of the gifts of the Spirit as experienced in the Early church. The Charismatic Revival movement touched all church denominations and refreshed belief in healing, spiritual gifts and miraculous conversions.
My mother’s healing
During this time the Biblical custom of laying on hands was revived as a means of healing prayer. As an example, in Acts 28:8 it mentions Paul healed through laying on hands. “His father (the father of Publis, an official in Malta) was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him.” (NIV)
My mother had suffered from asthma since girlhood and had often been at death’s door when she was growing up on a farm. She was at first skeptical that God healed in modern times, but eventually attended a healing service where she was cured of asthma.
Another practice the re-emerged during that era was the laying on of hand to empower individuals with the Holy Spirit so they might be free to operate in the different gifts of the spirit mentioned in the Bible. When I was a teenager, two young women prayed for me and when they did, an indescribable feeling of joy and peace come over me. I can’t say that any particular spiritual gifts immediately sprang to the forefront in my life, but over time I came to see that I had an ability to encourage and teach people about faith which led to a career in Christian writing.
The results of the Charismatic Revival
Many movements and ministries grew out of the Charismatic Revival. Perhaps the most remarkable outcome was a new sense of ecumenicism, or the ability to pray and worship together across denominational lines. Another was evangelism and renewed spiritual energy within churches. There was also a renewed emphasis on the gifts of the spirit and helping each member find and use theirs for the good of the whole church community.
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Copyright Karen Barber 2023. All rights reserved.