The Provision of the Spirit and Prayer3
In Philippians 1:19-20 Paul wrote, “for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”
As the apostle endured the hardship of imprisonment in Rome (or in Caesarea, as some believe), he anticipates that in response to the prayers the Philippians on his behalf God will supply him with “the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (v. 19b). I disagree with the ESV at this point. There it is translated to suggest that the Spirit gives “help” to Paul, when in fact the provision Paul receives is the Spirit himself! In other words, it is God the Father, through Jesus Christ, who provides Paul with more of the Spirit than he had heretofore experienced. Paul anticipates being the recipient of a richer, deeper, fuller, more powerful outpouring of the Spirit into his life to sustain him, to give him wisdom, to direct his thought and words, to equip him for ministry. Much the same thought is found in Galatians 3:5 where Paul asks this question: “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?”
Some of you may be wondering: “But if Paul already had the Spirit indwelling him, how could he expect to receive an additional supply of the Spirit? Don’t we get all of the Spirit at conversion? How can we pray for more?” I hate to break this news to you, but Paul wasn’t at all bothered by this in the way you are! He had no hesitation in speaking of an increased and expansive experience of the Spirit beyond what happened at conversion. The Spirit can be given and supplied and poured out fresh into the lives of God’s children well beyond the indwelling that we experienced when we first came to faith in Jesus.
I don’t believe we should call this experience “Spirit baptism” as many in the charismatic world do. We need only call it what Paul did: a provision or supply of the Spirit that would empower and sustain him in the midst of suffering.
What’s also crucial to note is that Paul believed this would happen as the Philippians prayed for him! Are you burdened like Paul was? Are you facing opposition from enemies who accuse you unjustly and slander you in the presence of others? Are you feeling weak and inadequate to stand firmly as you know God wants you to? Do you need a fresh infusion of strength to remain loyal to Christ and courageous in your faith? Then pray and ask others to pray on your behalf that God would infuse you with a fresh provision of the Spirit, that he would supply you with the Spirit above and beyond what you’ve ever known before!