Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit. – Ephesians 6:17-18
While teaching recently on the command the apostle Paul gave to the church at Ephesus, “Be filled with the Spirit,” I pointed out that not only is it a command that appeals to our will but it was given in the present tense or continuous action in the original language. Literally, it means, “Be you continually being filled with the Spirit.” It’s to be a never ending process.
But why is the continuous action necessary? As an illustration I used a quotation from the famous 19th century American evangelist and founder of the Moody Bible Institute, D.L. Moody. When a lady asked him if he was “filled with the Spirit,” Dr. Moody gave the question considerable thought then answered politely, “Yes, madam. But I leak!” Figuratively, we also sometimes leak like a sieve!
The apostle Paul recognized he had the same problem in his exhortation to the church at Rome:
“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” (Romans 7:18-19 NLT).
Do I hear an Amen?
Now neither the apostle nor Dr. Moody were saying in either case that the Holy Spirit leaves us. In fact, the writer to the Hebrews was adamant that God would never do so, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you'” (Hebrews 13:5). The problem is that we are prone to grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30), by doing things our own way without God’s help. That is, until we get in trouble!
So how do we return to that right relationship with God when we find ourselves dry and running on empty as a result of our rebellion and/or bad decisions? I believe it begins and ends with prayer. To help us, here’s an acrostic on prayer called ACTS. It’s been around for a while but it is still a wonderful reminder of how to pray to God to restore that spiritual relationship with the Holy Spirit that has gone astray so that we might be filled with Him again and again.
* Adoration is first which means worship. Begin your time of prayer by adoring and praising God. Praise Him for who He is and for all that He has done for you. God delights in your praises!
* Confession, the next component, means agreeing with God about the things that you have done wrong. It’s a time to express sorrow about what you have said, thought, or done that is not pleasing to Him. Ask God to forgive you for these things, and then believe that He does so freely. When you confess your sins, you receive God’s cleansing and this helps to remove any barrier in your communication with Him (1 John 1:9).
* Thanksgiving basically means being thankful to God. Thank Him for His love, protection, and provision just to name a few things. Take your time.
* Supplication is the final component, and this means praying for your needs and for the needs of others, such as friends, family, your pastor, missionaries, government leaders, and persecuted Christians around the world. You may want to pray for such things as God’s guidance, wisdom, and opportunities to serve.*
God promises to “restore, establish and strengthen us” (1 Peter 5:10). And He’ll do it over and over again – continually. So let’s stop the leak. Maranatha!
* Billy Graham Evangelistic Association