Come Holy Spirit: The Cry Of A Desperate Church

Caleb Maskell explains that the prayer of a desperate church is a welcome invitation for God to enact His plan – "Come, Holy Spirit."


Caleb Maskell

Steering Committee Chair, Society of Vineyard Scholars

The Cry For Something Better

“It is better for you that I go away” (John 16:7).

What do you think must it have been like for Jesus’ disciples to hear him say these words? For years, they had given up their whole lives to follow him, to learn from him, to watch him work. Jesus was the most compelling, ingenious, compassionate, free person they had ever known. He was what they wanted – there was no one else like him. “Where else can we go, Lord?” said the apostle Peter, “You have the words of life.”

And yet now, Jesus said he was leaving them. How could that possibly be “better”?

Jesus tried to explain: “If I go, God the Father will send you a Helper in my place, the Holy Spirit. He will come to live inside each of you, giving you peace, creative power and discernment about what the Father wants to do. He will teach you things you don’t know yet, and help you to do greater things than I have done. But for the Holy Spirit to come, I have to go” (from John 16:7-15).

Without the Spirit, they were utterly bereft. With the Spirit, they changed the world. - C Maskell Click To Tweet

The Cry of Desperation

Hmm. Who knows what the disciples were thinking? I’d bet it wasn’t peaceful, happy thoughts, especially as things quickly went from bad to worse. You know the story: Jesus was arrested, tried, and crucified. The disciples were scattered, terrified.

Then, it quickly got really weird. Jesus came back to life, and came to find them – just as they were on the brink of giving up on him. He ate with them, fished with them, let them touch his wounds to prove that he was really alive, forgave them for abandoning him. Mind-blowing stuff.

After a few days together, he left them again, returning to his Father in heaven. But just before he did, he reminded them of the plan: Stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit. So they obeyed. They waited. They prayed by faith – “Come, Holy Spirit.” Some among them were afraid. Some were confused. Some were hopeful. Some doubted. Some were exhausted. All believed somewhat, but some didn’t know what to believe. They were a ragtag bunch, knocked sideways by history; hardly a perfect team of spiritual giants.

The Cry Of The Obedient

But what they did do was show up, obedient, with their battered, uneven faith, to wait for what Jesus had promised. Bringing whatever they had – coming just as they were. And the Holy Spirit came, the Church was born, and giants they became. (If you want to know the rest, read the book of Acts.)

I love that ‘Come, Holy Spirit’ is not a prayer by which strong people give orders to God, calling him to act in endorsement of their ministry or mission. It is the opposite, actually. It comes to us as the cry of a desperate Church, undone by the love and power of Jesus and eager to serve him as the King. Without the Holy Spirit, they were utterly bereft. But with the Holy Spirit, they changed the world forever. Come, Holy Spirit.