…being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy (Colossians 1:11 ESV)
When you pray for strength, what is it that you ask for? Do you ask for a personal ability, or do you ask God to work his strength through you? I often find myself asking the Holy Spirit to strengthen me for the day because there are many occasions when I am just tired and can no longer think. In those moments, I probably prayed just a few times for God to take over, which is a rare act for me because I usually close my eyes for a few minutes or I take a walk to get a cup of coffee. Now, there is nothing wrong with these little breaks and pick-me-ups, but I don’t think I often invite God into these activities with me.
In the Bible, you may have read how the Spirit rushed upon someone like Saul, David, or Samson empowering them to do mighty things. The strength of the Lord supplemented their weakness because there was no way they could have done anything remarkable in the absence of the Holy Spirit.
What does it actually feel like to have the Spirit rush upon you? I can’t say I have experienced anything supernatural like that. But what I have felt are strong desires to say or do something that I believe the Lord would want me to do. Maybe they were his promptings? Some examples include: helping someone find their way when they are lost; consoling someone who is tearful and in distress; speaking out against an injustice; encouraging people who need hope; and admonishing others who clearly did something wrong.
Would I say the strength of the Holy Spirit was in all those activities? Yes, most likely! The reason why I say that is because those are not my natural tendencies. I’d rather stick to a smooth sailing agenda without having to deal with drama or extra work. I would rather clock-in and the clock-out, and not care about anyone other than me. Here is a confession: I am the most selfish person I know!
To counter that attitude, the Lord allows a few challenges and stressors in my day. He has a way of creating training opportunities so that I undergo a radical transformation. He equips me with his word, wisdom, and strength, not so that I can keep them for myself, but to share them in a way that serves and benefits other people.
So the next time I pray for God’s strength, I should welcome opportunities to use it, even when the challenges are difficult or impossible. After all, it is not my strength that I am relying on, but God’s. Just like Paul, the Lord’s power is perfected in my weaknesses because I am fully dependent on him when all my energies have been depleted.