Do you ever wonder what would happen if God should really answer some of the prayers that we offer?  Say, for example, the prayer for strength.  We all feel a need of that, at least at times.  Life has a way of reminding us of our limitations.  It confronts us with challenges that exceed our abilities.  So it is a fairly common thing for us to ask of God the strength that we need to deal with the demands of daily living.  But we offer that prayer with little thought of what its answer would involve.  We seem to think that strength can be wrapped up like a loaf of bread and handed over the counter of a bakery shop.  But it doesn’t work that way.  Strength must be grown.  It comes from struggle against resistance.  The only way a prayer for strength can be answered is by putting a person in a place where he has to struggle.  We ought to be careful about asking God for strength.  It could be that He will hear and answer our prayer.

                The same holds true of asking God for the gift of the Holy Spirit.  We repeat the prayer of the ancient psalmist – “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.”  When we as a parish offer that prayer, it is important for us to keep in mind the conditions and consequences of its answer.  Suppose God should actually do this thing for which we pray.  Under what conditions would He send out His Spirit?  And what would be the consequences of His presence and power in our midst?

                The answers to those questions are not entirely a matter of speculation.  God has done this very thing for which the ancient psalmist prayed and for which we pray.  The Acts of the Apostles tells us the story of that first Pentecost.

                Some of the story is difficult to understand.  But one thing that happened was that the barriers of race and religion, pride and prejudice fell.  The power of the Holy Spirit brings people together.  The most impressive evidence of God’s presence with us today would hardly be in some supernatural display.  It would rather be through some gentle expression of love in the face of hatred.  Through some quiet, calm confidence in the face of danger.  Through some refusal to strike back in the face of injury.  The power of the Holy spirit is healing.  It brings people together.  It breaks down barriers and builds bridges between them.

                The power of the Holy Spirit brings a new sense of the meaning of persons, many of whom are dehumanized by a technological society.  No man was meant to be a mere extension of a machine, sitting on an assembly line for endless hours.  No woman should ever feel that she is functioning as an office computer or as a flesh and blood household appliance.  Every human life, pre-born onward, has individual dignity and worth.  Each of us needs a fresh vision of God’s purpose for his or her own life.

                The greatest danger of our day is a lost awareness of who we are and why we are here.  God has in mind something good and useful for each of us to be and to do.  The power of the Holy Spirit that comes to us means a recognition of worth, and a recovery of purpose.

                So today, please pray for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon you.  “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the world.”