The Gifts of the Spirit and the Power of Prayer

The Easter Season ends with the celebration of Pentecost (June 12 in 2011). This day focuses on the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s gifts in the Church. The work of the Spirit and the traditional “Gifts of the Holy Spirit” are often hard to quantify. How do I measure “wisdom” or “understanding.” And, if I am asking for “courage,” does that make me sound like the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz?

The Holy Spirit isn’t that wizard, dispensing gifts according to some arrogant whim. Rather, the gifts of the Spirit flow lavishly in the Church. We see that at Easter time as we witness people coming into the community. At a friend’s parish here in my city, over 30 people were baptized at the Easter Vigil. At my own parish, I baptized an infant on Easter Sunday. In both cases, I’m certain, there was palpable joy among those gathered at Eucharist. While I cannot measure it, I can testify to that joy! More subtle is the power of prayer.

A while back, I suggested to Judy Zarick, our “Living Faith” producer, that she interview my friend Gloria Story about her email intercessory group, the “Power of Prayer Gang.” I’ve been getting Gloria’s emailed requests for prayer for a couple of years now. Within this email circle, I’ve become both a petitioner and recipient of prayer; a recent fall left me on crutches for six weeks. Can I measure prayer’s effects? Well, Gloria does let us know when the sick recover and those in emotional pain are comforted. But we sometimes do not hear of all the effects of our prayer. Sometimes these are hidden in the heart of God and the one who prays. In some ways, such prayer parallels our ministry of communications. I rarely know exactly who is listening to our broadcasts, or reading this newsletter or our blog.

Although Facebook and other Web services give us statistics of “page views,” they cannot measure the human heart. For that, I need faith, which is in itself a gift of God. So, I keep writing, recording, praying.

May God bless all our efforts–and all of you!