"…how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13, NKJV)
You might hear it in family squabbles. Criticism starts. Tempers flare. Civility vanishes. Frustration mounts. Finally, thoroughly exasperated someone blurts out, “I need to get some air,” and storms out the front door. In television drama that’s when an ally heads out to sidle up to the friend while she puffs away on a cigarette.
That’s a curious expression, isn’t it – “Get some air”? I mean, there’s already plenty of air in the room they were in. No one was gasping. Everyone was breathing just fine, a little heavily perhaps from all the commotion, but finding all the oxygen they needed.
Getting some air has to do with finding some space. They need to get away from all the drama. They need to slow their breathing and settle down.
There are times we can experience that. We feel like we’re being ganged up on, maybe backed into a corner. The pressures of parenthood close in on us. Our bills start mounting up, ready to smother us. There’s an expression for that. “I’m up to my neck in debt.” It’s not too far from obstructing our ability to breathe.
What’s it like when we can’t breathe? We panic. We flail. We make poor decisions out of desperation. We feel alone, woefully inadequate.
Certainly, our God meets us at times such as these. He tells not to fear. He assures us He will not abandon us but be present with us. He offers His help, reminding us that we are weak but He is mighty.
Perhaps the best thing we need to do in times of frenzy is to step outside of our situation for air.
Luke records a block of Jesus’ teaching about prayer. It includes the less familiar rendition of the Lord’s Prayer, or better put, the Disciples’ Prayer. At the close of that section, Jesus encourages us in the responsiveness and generosity of our Father in heaven. When we ask, God will give and what he gives will be just right.
What should we ask for? Surely that varies with the situation, whether it deals with finances, or forgiveness, or fortitude. But Jesus gives a more general answer, a more apt answer, an answer more basic to whatever we face. He tells us to ask for the Holy Spirit. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13)
Jesus is not asking a question here. He is making a declaration. He is giving us assurance of the Father’s answer to our most basic need in any circumstance. We need awareness of the presence of God. He is with us to cheer and to guide. He is with us to strengthen and help. He is with us. He pulls alongside us to minister to us in whatever situation we find ourselves.
All that our Father offers us in His Son is brought to us by His Spirit. So we begin there, whatever the specifics of our situation. We begin by asking for the Holy Spirit. He is the One through whom our heavenly Father showers us with good gifts, the One through whom our God meets all of our needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.
The word that translates Spirit is pneuma, which means breath or wind. When we find ourselves in panic mode, circumstances closing in on us, claustrophobic in our weakness, let us heed the word of our Lord to ask for the Spirit, knowing how desperately we need air.
- What does it mean to ask God for the Holy Spirit?
- How would asking for the Spirit change the complexion of your requests?
Lord Jesus, we thank You that You have not left us as orphans. You have come to dwell in us by the Holy Spirit. Let us lean upon Him as our Helper. Let us learn from Him as our Teacher. Let us find our strength and comfort and wisdom from Him in all things, at all times, in every way. In Your name we pray. Amen.
Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Those marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.