Yesterday a friend and I were emailing back and forth about the idea of applying the “Opposite technique” (last blog post) to our prayer life—and to our “doing” lives as well—and she wrote this: How are we to do that? We cannot give what we don’t have. I personally churn negative/yucky/critical/judgmental/poopie thoughts all day long, um… why cannot I churn the OPPOSITE?!
Later I read that day’s devotional from Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon. This is part of what he wrote:
All that the believer has must come from Christ, but it comes solely through the channel of the Spirit of grace. Moreover, as all blessings thus flow to you through the Holy Spirit, so also no good thing can come out of you in holy thought, devout worship, or gracious act, apart from the sanctifying operation of the same Spirit. … Do you desire to speak for Jesus—how can you unless the Holy Ghost touch your tongue? Do you desire to pray? Alas, what dull work it is unless the Spirit makes intercession for you! … Let us do him the due homage of feeling our entire weakness apart from him, and then depending alone upon him…
Hmm. We cannot DO the opposite technique without the power of the Holy Spirit, and first the Spirit must reveal to us that our natural inclination is “yucky” (or “poopie,” your choice!).
This reminds me of a visit to a coffee shop last week. I ordered my favorite hot, sweet drink. The barista who made it is the son of a good friend, and when he handed me my cup, he said, “You do not want to know how much bad stuff we put in there! That thing is loaded!”
“Stop!” I told him. “You’re right! I don’t want to know!”
That’s the Spirit’s first job—to reveal to us what we don’t want to know about ourselves.
The problem is that we often think we’re supposed to take it over from there.
But the rest of the transformation—the thinking/doing the opposite of our natural inclinations, is ALSO the Spirit’s job.
To which I say, Hallelujah!
O God, send forth your Holy Spirit into my heart that I may perceive, into my mind that I may remember, and into my soul that I may meditate. Inspire me to speak with piety, holiness, tenderness and mercy. Teach, guide and direct my thoughts and senses from beginning to end. May your grace ever help and correct me, and may I be strengthened now with wisdom from on high, for the sake of your infinite mercy. Amen. -a prayer by Saint Anthony of Padua