A few years ago, my wife and I spoke at a women’s gathering on a Saturday morning. After the breakfast, a mother and daughter from our church gave the first presentation. We were slated to follow them on the program. Their story was riveting.
Linda Barrick and her daughter, Jen, gave an account of the events that took place on a Sunday evening, November 5, 2006. As the family drove home from church, a drunk driver traveling 80 miles per hour struck their minivan head-on. The father, Andy, and Linda were in the front. Fifteen-year-old Jen and 11-year-old Josh were in the back. All sustained life-threatening injuries. They were rushed to emergency rooms at different hospitals.
While all four family members were in serious condition, doctors did not expect Jen to live through the night. But God sustained her life. She remained in a coma for five weeks with traumatic brain injuries and multiple skull fractures. Jen’s slow emergence from the coma took many more weeks. Doctors feared the brain injuries might prompt a flurry of strange behaviors such as screaming or cursing. Instead, Jen’s spirit poured out with praise songs and constant prayers. Even though she was not cognizant of her injuries, her location or even the names of her family members, she continued to praise God. Her mom commented, “The Holy Spirit was so alive and evident in her.”
Unable to open her eyes or comprehend her surroundings, Linda says her daughter literally prayed for hours. “But she did not ask for one thing,” recounts Linda. “Even with her body thrashing back and forth uncontrollably, she would cry out for hours, ‘Lord, you are so good. Lord, you are so faithful.’” Linda notes, “I would just sit there and weep as the Spirit enabled her to praise her Father, sing worship songs and even quote Scriptures. It was as if she had been in His presence the whole time.”
The Holy Spirit’s Produce
Today, Jen is still in the recovery process, suffers memory loss and endures cortical blindness. Yet she is able and eager to join her mother regularly in telling this amazing account of God’s grace and the power of prayer. As Rosemary and I listened to the Barricks’ story, we were struck by this truth: The Holy Spirit produces truth-based worship and thanksgiving in the hearts of His children.
How the Holy Spirit Ignites Our Intercession
Beyond our mental and physical capacities exists a spiritual dimension that we must grasp if we are going to learn to pray by the power of the Holy Spirit. Worship-based prayer brings our hearts into intimate harmony with the person of the Holy Spirit and enhances our surrender to His control, wisdom and power for our prayers. The Spirit then enables us to worship more fully. This worship, in turn, brings us into a deeper reality of the Spirit’s life, thus continuing the circle.
Worship-based prayer brings our hearts into intimate harmony with the person of the Holy Spirit and enhances our surrender to His control, wisdom and power for our prayers.
Jen Barrick, with limited mental and physical capacity, exhibited a profound experience of prayer in the realm of the Holy Spirit. Many of us depend on our own intellect and forget the Holy Spirit’s essential role. We may punch the prayer clock, but transformation eludes us.
Graveyard or Insane Asylum
My friend Jim Cymbala urges Christians toward a vibrant and practical reliance on the Holy Spirit. He strongly notes that when it comes to the person of the Holy Spirit, churches tend to be either cemeteries or insane asylums. Some hardly recognize the Holy Spirit or seek Him at all. Others engage in all kinds of bizarre, extra-biblical antics, for which the Holy Spirit gets “credit.” In our prayers, we want to avoid these extremes, but must set our hearts on the very real, powerful and practical reality of the Holy Spirit.