When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before in other posts, but I love being a part of the Vineyard. This is my tribe. I have grown up in this body. I am very fortunate to have this experience of being with the Vineyard. I love this group of believers, and I know that God is doing great things in this denomination. All this to say, the Vineyard has a core set of values. These are things that are non-negotiables. These make up the Vineyar DNA. From church to church, Vineyards all over the world tend to emphasize these certain attributes. I’ve talked about some of these Vineyard distinctives before, but I want now to talk about a prayer that is full of folk-lore in the the Vineyard.
The backstory to how this prayer became so popular within the Vineyard can be seen at John Wimber’s video at the bottom of the post. I’ve read different accounts that say what they think Lonnie said, but all pretty much agree that the prayer that he prayed was along the lines of this, “Come, Holy Spirit.”
It’s our central prayer.
If you have ever been a part of the Vineyard or even attended a Vineyard church, I’m 99.99% positive that you have heard this prayer before: “Come, Holy Spirit.” This prayer, from what I have gathered from different books on Vineyard history and through conversations I’ve had with Vineyard pastors, is kind of what started the Vineyard as a movement. My friend at Spirit Tribe has already written a piece on the history of this short little prayer. In summary, Lonnie Frisbee was invited by John Wimber to speak at his church in 1980, and he concluded his message by saying, “Come, Holy Spirit.” This prayer, Veni, Sancte Spiritus, actually is a Roman Catholic prayer from the late 16th Century. It’s a beautiful prayer that churches throughout the centuries have prayed during the season of Pentecost. It’s a prayer that serves as a reminder that the church’s existence is dependent upon God’s Spirit.
As Lonnie prayed this prayer, basically, the Holy Spirit showed up.
And this prayer is not to say that the Holy Spirit is not already present in church services. Inviting the omnipresent God into the room seems like a funny thing to do, if we really think about it, but it’s an acknowledgement of our need for God in that present moment. If anything, it’s the recognition that the words that we offer are limited, and we need the presence of God to fill that space.
Wimber is later quoted as saying, “The manifestation of the Spirit is not supposed to be the exception – it’s supposed to be the norm.”
We need the Holy Spirit. This prayer is not something that should only be prayed seasonally, but it is one that should be prayed everyday. This is why the Vineyard is (am I allowed to say?) obsessed with this prayer, and we should be. We believe that the Spirit is alive, active, and present. We believe that the Spirit fills us. We believe that the Spirit empowers us for the works of the Kingdom. The Spirit gives us the capabilities to “do the stuff.”
The Holy Spirit, as promised by Jesus while he was leaving his disciples at the close of Luke, is a gift, and as the disciples prayed, they received the gift. This gift wasn’t a one and done. This gift wasn’t something unwrapped for a special occasion. This gift was the person of the Holy Spirit. At the First Council of Constantinople in 381, the church met to discuss the humanity of Christ and also the divinity of the Holy Spirit. I don’t have time to dive too deep into the history of it all, but all to say that the Holy Spirit is not an it. If we think of the Holy Spirit as a person as living and active in our lives empowering us to do the things which God has prepared in advance for us to do, then living in this world becomes a little easier. Even though we live in this material world, we do not fight against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). Having the Holy Spirit with us enables us to do godly things. Traditionally, the church mothers and fathers thought of the Holy Spirit as the sustainer of our faith. The Holy Spirit is who binds us to God. He’s the Paraclete, the one who helps and counsels us.
This, to me, is why we invite the Holy Spirit into our church services. It is simply to acknowledge the personhood of the Holy Spirit and to recognize our absolute dependence upon him. It’s a relational prayer. It’s to say that we cannot do this on our own, and we need God.
Our very life, our very breath (Gen 1:27) comes from the Holy Spirit. In him, do we have our live and have our being (Acts 17:28). Through prayer, through the power of the Holy Spirit who intercedes on our behalf, we can have relationship with God. God is personal, powerful, and immanent, and we need his help. We pray for the Holy Spirit to come because we desire him. We want him. We love him.
So, again we pray, “Come, Holy Spirit.”