Holy spirit

Short Prayers 27: Baptism | Power of the Holy Spirit

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:14)

Jhe power of the Holy Spirit comes with baptism. Most of the time, this power goes unnoticed. Unused. Untapped.

The Holy Spirit is like a wall outlet. If you never plug anything in, you’ll never be turned off. To tap into the power of the Holy Spirit, simply ask in a short prayer and you will have power – in the words of Saint Paul in Galatians 5:22 – for “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, fidelity, gentleness and self-control.

The power of the Holy Spirit

Debbie was six years old. I met her walking on the sidewalk. “Last Sunday, I moved forward,” she proudly announced. “In two weeks, I will be baptized.”

She continued to remind us almost daily in the neighborhood of the big event to come. It happened. She was baptized. On the Sunday of the baptism after the service, when she had changed her clothes and was roller-skating on the sidewalk, the subject came up again. I asked her, “Debbie, when you get baptized, God’s Holy Spirit comes into your life in a special way, doesn’t it?

“Yes,” she exclaimed.

“So will the Holy Spirit do anything special in your life that you know?”

“Yeah. I prayed for the Spirit of God to help me stop sucking my thumb and keep me from getting mad at my sisters.

Getting baptized is no small feat. In Romans 6:3-4, St. Paul says that in this event we symbolically drown, die with Christ. Then we rise out of the waters, just as Jesus rose from the tomb on Easter. The result is that we walk in newness of life; we’re living in resurrection power now. Those of us who have been baptized are already dead, truly dead to sin, to death, and to the power of the devil. And we have truly been resurrected by the spirit of the Eternal God. Oh, yes, our physical death may still be ahead of us. But compared to the death of our former life suffered in baptism, our future funerals will mark only what Martin Luther called a Tödlein, A little death.

Baptism means power. It means transformation. This power of transformation must not remain untapped, must not be neglected and must not remain unused. He can change our lives. Could it be with Debbie that we could all ask the Holy Spirit to give us the power to stop sucking our thumbs and help us dispel anger toward our sisters.

PRAY

God of water and resurrection, remind us that we died and rose again with Christ through our baptism, and give us the strength to walk today in newness of life. Amen.

Ted Peters is a Lutheran pastor and professor emeritus at the seminary. He is author of short prayers and The cosmic self. His one-volume Systematic Theology is now in its 3rdrd editing, God—the future of the world (Fortress 2015). He undertook a thorough examination of the dialectic of sin and grace in two works, Sin: the radical evil in the soul and in society (Eerdmans 1994) and Sin boldly! (Fortress 2015). Watch over his neighbour, The Voice of Public Christian Theology (ATF 2022). See his website: TedsTimelyTake.com.