How does the Spirit become unleashed on the practical level of human action?
[First,] the answer is that the Spirit works as we go with the message of the cross to human beings and as we pray before and during this undertaking.
In brief, we must resolve to go with the gospel daily and to keep going . . . [T]he first step is to go no matter how I feel. I go to people and as I go I preach the gospel to my own heart. What does this mean “preach the gospel to my own heart”?
This preaching takes place as I go with the message as a “sent one” (Romans 10:6-17). No matter how painful and arduous it may be at times, I must go. But the Spirit of the Lord tells me to hear the preached word of the Lord in my heart as I “go” (Romans ]0:6-10, 17). As I witness let me look at the cross and meditate on the sheer awesome wonder of it.
Then, then, I know that my going is secondary; His going is primary.
What He has begun in the self-giving of His Son He now executes through the presence of His Spirit within me. In my speaking He is speaking.
My persuading of others is always marked by inadequacy, if not by sin and failure. But I now through the vision of the atonement of Christ have the beginnings of a humbled attitude, a brokenness over my continued unworthiness, and a new resting in the gospel which I bring to others. His atonement, the grace of His love, is changing me.
This is the unleashing of the Spirit.
The second step in learning to rely on the Spirit of grace is to pray for His presence. But what does this mean?
I am thinking of prayer of a certain kind, with a sharply defined biblical focus which leads me to face up to the depth of my self-reliance. In prayer I must face the mystery of the unbelief of my friends, relatives, fellow workers, and neighbors. And the mystery of my own unbelief which expresses itself in self-dependence and fear.
How does my sin of unbelieving fear express itself? Even in my prayers. Well, I pray, but as I try to pray I think of “their faces.” Their faces—will they be angry? Supercilious? Indifferent? Cynical? Or open and welcoming? I am constantly weakened, if not crippled, by the thought: “What will they think of me?” Inwardly I fight battles that never need to be fought. My soul gets cast down by my own imaginings fueled by my own dark unbelief.
I do not mean there is no reason to fear rejection today. People at present despise a message which informs them that they are lost, or at least they are often profoundly indifferent to that which the Spirit reveals to us about the Father’s love. They can be so utterly heartbreakingly careless—outwardly—to the peril of their souls and God’s costly, crucified love.
But let me now pray for the Spirit to give me a vision of the peril of the lost and confess my fears. I pray desperately, feelingly, weakly, and then with growing awareness of the promise of the gospel found in John 3:16 and other great passages. And the Spirit then enters my heart in a new way.
This is a great paradox. I have the Spirit, I am already in-dwelt by Christ (Galatians 2:20). But I also need to have Him daily dwell in me by faith (Luke 11:1-13, Ephesians 3:16-17). He comes as I surrender my fears of rejection to Him. I confess the proud independence of spirit which lies behind these fears. Then I give my tendency to be ashamed of Jesus to God and ask Him to forgive it and take it out of my heart.
Then I directly and plainly ask the Father to give the gift of the Spirit to me. I who already have the Spirit claim the promise of the Spirit; I now wish to drink afresh from His vital life (Luke 11:13, John 7: 37-39) .
I also try to make my praying practical. I ask for the Spirit to give me comfort of soul and endurance. I think the key to effective evangelism is always the Spirit’s giving grace to be winsome and enduring, going on day after day in the work always with a smile and sometimes with tears.
About those tears. Here the mere talk ends and the walk begins. As I go with the message of the cross I must bear the personal cross He has appointed me. There is no other way. I must tell Him, with fear and trembling, that I am now willing to will His will. I am ready to be hurt for His glory. This ultimate surrender is very hard for me to do no matter how long I pray.
Jack Miller, Focus on What Matters Most in Evangelism, p. 8-9.