“Let us invoke the Holy Spirit each day, so that He can remind us to make God’s gaze upon us our starting point, to make decisions by listening to His voice, and to journey together as Church, docile to Him and open to the world.”Pope Francis, Tweet on June 5, 2022
Table of Contents
- What is the Holy Spirit?
- Book of Isaiah – 7 Gifts of the Spirit
- The Holy Spirit in the New Testament
- The Holy Spirit and me
- Why pray to the Holy Spirit?
- Holy Spirit prayers
- Related prayers
What is the Holy Spirit?
As Christians, we believe God to be three persons in One: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. It is common to think mainly of God the Father and God the Son and neglect the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Yet the Holy Spirit is equally as instrumental and present in our lives as the other two persons of the Trinity. In the Nicene Creed, we state that the Holy Spirit is the giver of life:
“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.”
Book of Isaiah – 7 Gifts of the Spirit
We read of the Holy Spirit throughout the Old Testament, but the Book of Isaiah is especially critical in understanding why we pray to the Holy Spirit. Not only does the Book of Isaiah prophesy the coming of Christ (the branch of Jesse), but it also shares with us the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-3)
God bestows these seven gifts – wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord – on us during the Sacrament of Baptism. In the Catholic tradition, we believe these seven gifts are strengthened through the Sacrament of Confirmation.
We can, of course, pray to the Holy Spirit and ask for the grace that these gifts might be strengthened in us.
The Holy Spirit in the New Testament
Three special occasions
There are countless references to the Holy Spirit throughout the New Testament. From Paul’s letters to the Gospels, we read of the Holy Spirit working through the life of Christ and His disciples.
Three special occasions of the Holy Spirit come to mind from the New Testament and the life of Christ that remind us of the Holy Spirit’s power and peace as the Third Person of the Trinity:
The virgin birth of Jesus
“Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:18)
After John the Baptist baptized Jesus, Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would descend upon them and began His ministry on earth. (Acts 1)
“And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.” (Matthew 3:16)
Pentecost, seven weeks after Jesus’s ascension
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” (Acts 2:1-4)
These moments in the life of Christ have formed the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation and our celebration of Pentecost each Sunday after Easter.
These Scriptural accounts of the Holy Spirit, among others, also lead us to understand why the Holy Spirit is so often represented as a dove or as tongues of fire – the peaceful yet strong Third Person of the Trinity.
Paul’s letter to the Galatians – fruits of the Spirit
In addition to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, Paul’s letter to the Galatians shares the fruits of the Spirit.
“By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:22-26)
These “fruits” are virtues we are endowed with as children of God. In prayer, we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us toward fully living out these fruits in our relationships and everyday lives.
The Holy Spirit and me
For much of my life, I have prayed to God the Father or God the Son.
A few months ago, I was struggling to fall asleep at night. So, I started praying to the Holy Spirit to wrap me in His goodness and peace as I shut my eyes. It has since become a close to daily occurrence in my life.
I’ve started speaking with the Holy Spirit throughout my day, not just at night when I’m trying to fall asleep. Sometimes I whisper the simple and popular invocation “Come, Holy Spirit” at the beginning of my day when pouring a cup of coffee or going for a jog. Other times I call on the Holy Spirit to be present with me as I think through a problem or an upcoming meeting or conversation with a friend.
I turn to the Holy Spirit when I’m anxious, when I struggle to see the good in a situation, when I feel lost. To know the Holy Spirit is present where I stand, moving through me and transforming my imperfect heart – this knowledge is both beautiful and comforting.
Why pray to the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit as Interior Master
In his homily on Pentecost Sunday in 2014, Pope Francis described the Holy Spirit as the Interior Master. He said,
“The Holy Spirit teaches us: he is the Interior Master. He guides us along the right path, through life’s challenges. He teaches us the path, the way. In the early times of the Church, Christianity was called “the way” (cf. Acts 9:2), and Jesus himself is the Way. The Holy Spirit teaches us to follow him, to walk in his footprints. More than a master of doctrine, the Holy Spirit is a master of life. And he surely takes part in life as well as in knowledge, but within the broadest and most harmonious horizons of Christian existence.”
The Holy Spirit is our guide to the Truth, our guide to God the Father and God the Son. Pope Francis called the Holy Spirit the “master of life.” In those daily moments of struggle, agony, and decision-making, the pure and gentle Holy Spirit kindly guides us toward living life as a follower of Christ. St. Peter Damian similarly said, “As the soul is the life of the body, so the Holy Spirit is the life of our souls.”
To be filled with the fruits and gifts of the Spirit
Because the Holy Spirit is ever present in our souls, the Holy Spirit makes possible our daily actions rooted in the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. As Pope Francis continued in his 2014 Pentecost Sunday homily,
“It is the Spirit who lets us speak with people in fraternal dialogue. He lets us speak with others, recognizing them as brothers and sisters; to speak with friendship, with tenderness, with compassion, understanding the heartaches and hopes, the sorrows and joys of others.”
Ultimately, we pray to the Holy Spirit to fill us with the gifts and fruits of the Spirit, to lead with love in everything we do.
Holy Spirit Prayers
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
And kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created.
And you shall renew the face of the earth.
O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit,
Did instruct the hearts of the faithful,
Grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy his consolations.
Through the same Christ Our Lord.
Holy Spirit Prayer of St. Augustine
Breathe into me, Holy Spirit,
that my thoughts may all be holy.
Move in me, Holy Spirit,
that my work, too, may be holy.
Attract my heart, Holy Spirit,
that I may love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, Holy Spirit,
that I may defend all that is holy.
Protect me, Holy Spirit,
that I may always be holy.
Prayer to the Holy Spirit from Pope Francis
Pope Francis shared this prayer with us on May 15, 2013 in a General Audience at St. Peter’s Square. We ask the Holy Spirit to open our hearts:
“Holy Spirit, make my heart open to the word of God, make my heart open to goodness, make my heart open to the beauty of God every day.”
Short invocations of the Holy Spirit
For when you’re pressed for time or struggling to form the words to call on the Holy Spirit:
- Breathe into me, Holy Spirit.
- Come, Holy Spirit.
- Holy Spirit, fill me with your gifts.
- Kindle in me Your goodness, Holy Spirit.
- Holy Spirit, be present in my heart.
- Holy Spirit, help me be patient.
Holy Spirit Novena on Hallow
Led by Chika Anyanwu, the Holy Spirit novena guides us in prayer for a few minutes each day for nine days. The first day invokes the Holy Spirit, the following seven days are meditations on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, and on the final day, we formally ask the Holy Spirit to come, renew our lives, and fill us with the seven gifts.
This novena is a beautiful prayer to turn to if you struggle to discern where God is moving through your daily life. By intentionally calling on the Holy Spirit to be present, we might notice the gifts we practice well and those we need to ask for more grace to follow in Christ’s footsteps.
We invite you to pray to the Holy Spirit with us on Hallow. Begin with the Minute Meditation and pray, “Come, Holy Spirit.” God bless!
- How to Pray – Christian Meditation
- How to Pray the Litany of Humility
- How to Pray the St. Michael Chaplet
- Prayers for Hope
- Prayers for Strength