Today: Thursday, February 27, 2020


More about the gifts of the Spirit  

The Holy Spirit is the third member of the Holy Trinity, alongside the Father and the Son (Jesus). The Spirit is that agent of God who is, at the same time, part of God—which, in mysterious ways we can’t understand, encourages us, empowers us, invigorates us, and stimulates us. Referred to in the Bible as an ‘advocate’, or helper, the Spirit is the presence of God in people’s minds, enabling them to continue the work of Jesus on earth—healing, reconciliation and forgiveness. The Spirit is the life-giving presence of God at the centre of every personality. He is a creative and life-giving force.

There are two biblical passages which refer to the gifts of the Spirit:

The famous one is in the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians (NT). Paul speaks of gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, miraculous powers, healing, prophecy, and so on. He stresses that every different manifestation, or gift, of the Spirit comes from only one Spirit, which is always the same. When we believe and proclaim that Jesus is Lord, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives to each of us according to our needs.

The Spirit of God plays an important part in the OT, and appears in many places from the beginning of Genesis onwards. The other passage is in Isaiah (OT), where the prophet Isaiah speaks of a shoot coming up from the ‘stump of Jesse’ (Jesse was an ancestor of Jesus), and that this shoot would be enriched by gifts of the Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, and fear of the Lord. This is a prophecy, talking about the line of King David which led ultimately to Jesus. The remarkable thing is that Isaiah, whose name means ‘the Lord saves’, was writing around 700BC, and yet was able to prophesy that a king descended from David would come to reign in righteousness—which is exactly what happened in Jesus.

The gifts of the Spirit remain a potent force in the life of faith. St Bonaventure (1217-74), the monk who took over the leadership of the Franciscan order after the death of St Francis, wrote a famous prayer based on the seven gifts of the Spirit. If the language is a little old-fashioned, the meaning is still clear, and the teaching is sound. The prayer can conveniently be used with one verse for each day of the week.

“Lord Jesus, as God’s Spirit came down and rested upon you, may the same Spirit rest upon us, bestowing his sevenfold gifts.

First, grant us the gift of understanding by which your precepts may enlighten our minds.

Second, grant us counsel, by which we may follow in your footsteps on the path of righteousness.

Third, grant us courage, by which we may ward off the Enemy’s attacks.

Fourth, grant us knowledge, by which we can distinguish good from evil.

Fifth, grant us piety, by which we may acquire compassionate hearts.

Sixth, grant us fear, by which we may draw back from evil and submit to what is good.

Seventh, grant us wisdom, that we may taste fully the life giving sweetness of your love.”

With acknowledgments to Amy Boucher Pye

Explore this subject in more depth

Read our other CotN article (if you haven't already) on the gifts of the Holy Spirit

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