“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 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!”
It might seem obvious, but when you become a Christian you encounter God’s love. That was my experience at university when I turned to Christ. His forgiveness and nearness was sheer joy in the midst of an increasing awareness of the superficiality of the culture around me! I didn’t have the language, but the Holy Spirit was making Himself very real to me. As I spent more time reading the bible, praying and worshipping in my dingy room in the students' halls my appetite only grew to know God better.
Soon after my experience of a group of student leaders praying out loud (see previous blog) I was in my new small group with some other new Christians. We went to the pub after the meeting and I was chatting with a guy as he was having a smoke. He’d just turned to Christ and been on an Alpha weekend where he received this “gift of tongues”. I was intrigued and hungry to know more. As he chatted I just knew this spiritual gift was for me too. I asked him how you receive the gift, which he simply responded cigarette in hand, “just ask”.
I walked home from the pub exhilarated and nervous. What if I received this supernatural gift? It would take me deep into the unknown, it scared me. What if I didn’t receive this gift? It would take me deep into the familiar, a sense of being left out, that scared me too!
When I got home, my housemates were out. I went to my bedroom torn by a fear of receiving and a fear of not. I was in a lose-lose it felt. Maybe, I thought, I should just avoid asking God for anything more, I should forget about it, he had given me so much already. A British sense of false humility kicked in!
The more I wrestled with this simple question to “ask” , the more I couldn’t resist it’s implications. I was facing down some unknown and unspoken issues in my heart as I longed for more of God, but doubted his longing for me. I fell to my knees to pray (a posture I was taught growing up in a very traditional church) and as I remained in that posture I became very emotional and started crying. I didn’t even know why, but it wasn’t normal for me as an emotionally illiterate 20 year old.
As I bowed my head on the ground defeated by this sudden and unexpected rush of emotions I opened my mouth to continue the only words I had “Jesus.” As I muttered those words weakly, a sudden rush of words came out with a great sense of God’s nearness. I was overwhelmed as these words came like waves of communication, like someone wanted to speak to me for ages and now had their moment!
Since that time my experience of praying has been transformed as I have learnt to live and pray from a deeper union and connection with the Holy Spirit. An awareness of the nearness of God within has been the fruit of the gospel and impulse to share that good news of Jesus with the student world. God is determined to be an internal reality written on our hearts by his Spirit (2 Cor 3:23).
Join us at Firebrands on August 30th-September 2nd as we as trust God to write on the hearts of students and leaders a story worth living in the universities.