Dear First Baptist Family,

As most of you know, the subject of prayer has been very important to me in the last few years. My fascination with prayer — how it works, what we can expect, how to pray effectively — has grown out of my own sense of a lack of understanding and power.

My model for prayer has been the life of George Müller. He was a 19th century pastor from Bristol, England, who claimed to experience 50,000 prayers over his lifetime. Müller launched orphanages that cared for over 10,000 children. He witnessed many miracles as he studied the scriptures and prayed in faith for the smallest and biggest of matters. (By the way, thank you for your gracious receiving of the many, many Müller stories I have told you these last two years!)

Müller lived by 6 Biblical principles when it came to prayer: abiding in Christ, complete dependence on God, forsaking sin, exercising faith, praying in the will of God, and persevering in prayer. I have tried to incorporate these areas into my own life and have seen remarkable results, not to mention a growing experience of faith, joy, and peace through Jesus.

But I have sometimes felt like something was lacking in these 6 areas.

For many months, I have puzzled over this. What is the key — the central, unifying principle — that holds each of these 6 principles together? What is the great source of power underneath the practice of faith?

The answer came as more and more of you have asked me questions about one particular aspect of prayer. This central factor is mysterious and confusing for many people. But it is essential to faith and victory in Christ.

The Holy Spirit.

Who is the Holy Spirit? Is there a difference between having the Holy Spirit and being filled with the Spirit? How does the Holy Spirit intercede for us as well as lead us into intercession on behalf of others?

I’ve been on a personal journey for several months now to understand the work of the Holy Spirit, and now I want to share some of that learning with you. I certainly don’t fully understand the nature and power of the Holy Spirit, but instead see myself as a fellow traveler in this journey of faith.

And, it will not be surprising that I have discovered, like I did with George Müller, another traveler who can help us understand the work of the Holy Spirit.

His name is Rees Howells (1879-1950), a pastor who came to Christ during the Welsh Revival. After being a missionary in Africa for many years, he founded the Bible College in Wales in Swansea.

The story of his life can be found in the inspiring book Intercessor. Howells believed that his life’s calling was to “intercede” on behalf of those God loves and to help them discover both salvation and purpose through Jesus. More than any other book I have encountered, Intercessor is helping me to learn about the person, work, and power of the Holy Spirit.

Starting Wednesday, I will be blogging every day of the week (except Sunday) about the Holy Spirit and the way to have greater breakthroughs as you pray for your children, friends, spouses, co-workers, and neighbors. These blogs will be sent to you each day by email.

I would love for you to share what you are learning about the Holy Spirit as we take this journey together. You can always reach me at [email protected] or 865-850-2167.

Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. It’s the 40-day journey to Easter, a time of reflection, repentance, and renewal. We will begin Lent with our traditional Ash Wednesday service at 6:00 pm. The ashes are a symbol of humility and mortality. They remind us that life is short and that Christ gives strength to our weakness and healing to our brokenness.

Along with the Ash Wednesday service, I hope these simple blog posts will stir your faith and prepare you once again to celebrate the risen Christ on Easter Sunday.

I love you and I am praying for you. May God bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you!

Pastor Brent McDougal