I have been reminded recently on more than one occasion that God answers prayer. But I would be the first to tell you that life experience has, for the most part, taught me exactly the opposite. God does not answer prayer most of the time—or, at least God does not answer prayer in the way I want God to answer or on the timetable I had expected. In fact, life can be so brutal that I forget to pray at all for loss of faith. Or I choose not to pray for fear of being disappointed.
Sometimes I re-choose prayer by a sheer effort of my will. I discipline my practices in hopes that my faith will catch up. But other times I remember to pray because suddenly Grace plops down in my life like a bounding Tigger, as if to say, “I can’t believe you didn’t see me coming,” and I am surprised all over again that Grace is real.
On the Day of Pentecost, Grace plopped down with a flourish and shocked the socks off everyone—so much so that you couldn’t tell a Spirit-filled apostle from a drunken fool on the street, so the story goes. It was a confusing, throbbing, magnificent mess in which the Spirit of God was so conspicuous, so alive, so mobile, so awake and irresistible that the author of our text could only describe it by saying that the Spirit was like fire and like wind. All consuming, it sounded like the blowing of a violent wind that filled the whole house and it looked like tongues of fire that rested on each of them.