There Is Nothing Like Feeling The Holy Spirit, And For That We Pray Without End
By Michael H. Brown
Just about everyone knows the feeling: one minute you're in the dumps, the next you're on a spiritual "high." It's called the flow of grace. When it isn't there, we're hurting, but when it is, there's nothing better.
We speak here of that exquisite sense of well-being, calmness of spirit, and joy that you can just about taste. What determines its arrival? How do we get it?
That's totally in the Hands of God, and because of that, we can't predict it. There seem to be cycles (sometimes we're tested one day, given a break the next), but really it doesn't conform to a human schedule. That would defeat the very "test" of faith; God reserves for Himself knowledge of when we will perceive Him most strongly.
But there are certain general parameters, and we can know this: grace arrives most rapidly and stays longest when we are humble, doing God's Will, and praying without stop. Often, it comes as a reward -- as a sign that we're on the right road -- where its absence often indicates the opposite. As it says in Scripture, God grants peace to those who enjoy His favor (Luke 2:14). When we are humble, when we avoid sin in all its forms, when we turn the other cheek in a dispute, when we help others, when we rise above anger, and when we love, we are most apt to feel His grace because God is love and grace means that He is flowing through us.
As the Pope said just the other day, while God lets himself be conquered by the humble, and surrounds them with "tenderness," He rejects the arrogance of the proud and "appears as a severe judge when confronting the wicked."
There are also the sacraments, and these often break the logjam that is preventing His palpable touch. Communion is grace, and the flow of the Spirit also comes through Bible reading, Confession, and adoring the Blessed Sacrament.
When we sin, Confession allows a quick return to the Lord's favor and can instantly reinstitute the feeling of well-being.
But even when we are doing all we should be doing, there are trials, periods when we are spiritually "arid." During these times we're called to strictly follow Christ's Word and keep our eyes on the fact that grace will return. It is a test a faith, and along with love, faith brings grace most rapidly.
The Rosary is also famous for bringing that feeling of peace, and praising Jesus is another way of bringing down the Holy Spirit. Often the Lord seems to want us to pray in a direct, off-the-cuff fashion -- forsaking routine for a simple one-on-one conversation. When you are short of grace, try breaking the logjam by simply talking to Him!
This happened recently with a woman who for years had been frustrated in her attempts to finance a musical promoting the pro-life cause. She went to the cathedral and was almost angry -- let's use the term "fervent." She really asked the Lord. Perhaps we could also say that she prayed from the heart. Often, we can ask time and again for something by use of regular prayer and see no result until we really lift it up.
That's what she did, and it seems God answered. Immediately after, she won the lottery for $113 million -- more than enough to conduct a major pro-life campaign.
Was that God? Would He use the lottery? Actually we're not sure. But it does seem that unleashing all our frustration to the Lord -- putting it in His Hands -- does have remarkable results. We wouldn't advise being angry with God! But letting Him know our heartfelt frustration can empower a prayer. It can pierce the clouds.
For the best flow of grace, the standard is simply the one the Bible grants us: to do God's Will and to pray without ceasing.
Pray as much as you can. Pray first thing in the morning. Pray last thing at night. Pray in the shower, in the car, in the elevator.
Pray in whatever way is possible whenever you can -- if nothing else, thinking the Name "Jesus, Jesus." When you can, pray rosary after rosary. This brings great grace! If you are in the the flow of prayer, it makes it easy to deal with anything around you. Pray for everyone, even enemies. And thank God for everything!
"See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people," says Scripture (1 Thessalonians 5). "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit."
No: do not quash it. Whenever grace lasts, it is usually because prayer has preceded it and has been maintained. This can be like surfing a big wave! What a joy it is to have an extended period of that special feeling. It just takes some effort -- and remembering that the longer we pray, the longer we stay in the flow of His grace.
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