Isaiah Gifts of the Spirit


Kathy Gautcher

At Antioch Leadership training School in Monroe Michigan the weekend of February 20-22, 1998, we had an excellent presentation by Aggie Neck, who came to us from Louisiana. Aggie gave the us one of the best teachings on the gifts that I have ever heard. What the fruit was for me that weekend was an awakening in my spirit of the necessity of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are mentioned in Isaiah 11:2-3. I started to take a look at these gifts and study them. This article is a result of that study.

Years ago in our confirmation classes we were taught that we would receive the gifts of; wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. Personally for me as a young girl who was confirmed in 6th grade, I had no idea what this meant. I was extremely disappointed on my confirmation night. It seemed to me that nothing happened. I was (or so I thought) the same person I was before I received that Sacrament.

Years later (many years later), by the grace of God, I became involved in the Charismatic Renewal. The gifts I heard about then were the charisms in 1 Corinthians 12: prophecy, wisdom, knowledge, discerning of spirits, faith, miracles, healing, tongues, and interpretation. These charisms are essential to the apostolic mission of the Christian Church. However, it is the Isaiah gifts that provide a foundation to our spiritual growth. We need the indwelling of the Isaiah gifts to be able to use the Charismatic gifts, in and with the power of the Holy Spirit. If we are using the gifts and have not rooted ourselves in the Isaiah gifts we will be working more in the flesh than in the Spirit.

During the rite of Confirmation the Bishop prays the following prayer:

All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit you freed your sons and daughters from sin and gave them new life. Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgement and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence. We ask this through Christ our Lord .Amen.
The Isaiah gifts are the gifts that dwell in us. They have taken up their home within our soul and spirit. These are the gifts that will sustain us through our spiritual journey. These are the gifts that are the foundation of our Catholic Charismatic spirituality. When we nurture these gifts and allow them to grow in us, we allow God to transform our life into the way in which He wants us to be. This is an interior growth.

We all know that a lot of people have gone through Life in the Spirit Seminars and given their lives to the Lord, only to see them in a few years not at all involved in the renewal and sometimes not even involved in the church. We ask ourselves, why does this happen? They were so excited in their new relationship with God. How did this happen?

Maybe we have not helped our people grow interiorly. Are we teaching them the Isaiah gifts or are we only teaching them about the Corinthian gifts? Without the interior growth of the Isaiah gifts, we may use the Charismatic gifts in the flesh and emotion, rather than in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Pope Leo XIII in Divinum Illud Manus says this about the Isaiah gifts:

"More than this, the just man, that is to say, he who lives the life of divine grace and acts by the fitting virtues as by means of faculties, has a need of those seven gifts which are properly attributed to the Holy Spirit. By means of these gifts the soul is furnished and strengthened so as to be able to obey more easily and promptly his voice and impulse. Wherefore, these gifts are of such efficacy that they lead the just man to the highest degree of sanctity; and of such excellence that they continue to exist even in heaven, though in a more perfect way."
I personally need to pray that these gifts will be growing in me and I know I have to teach my people about these very important gifts. Let's take a look at these gifts and see what they are all about (as defined in Mighty in Spirit by Joseph Bagiackas).

Fear of the Lord:

Not an emotion, but an attitude of reverence and awe in the presence of God. Prov.1:7, 8:13, Ex.20:20. It's the beginning of knowledge, it causes us to hate evil and avoid sin.
This does not mean that we hide in the corner because we are afraid of God, but that we are in awe as to who He is and who we are. God is the one who created all things and then created man and women in his image. God is awesome; nothing and no one else is awesome!

As we come to know and love the Lord, we come to know His greatness and His mercy. We will turn away from sin not because of fear, but because we do not want to offend the one who loves us. Fear of the Lord!

Fortitude (Might, Strength.):

It gives us relentless vigor in the Lord. It helps us overcome spiritual lukewarmness. Heb. 12:1-5, Eph 3:16.
This is the gift that will allow us to be bold in speaking about Jesus and how He has touched our lives. We will have a boldness to speak the truth and to live lives reflecting the truth. Fortitude will give us the strength to endure when persecution comes our way. It will help us run the race, keeping our focus on Jesus.


From the Latin - dutiful conduct, ernest compliance in religion. Devotion and reverence to God. Deepens our awareness of God as Father. It emphasizes the adoption status we have and the Spirit leads us to cry out "Abba Father" (Rom 8:15)
Piety will remove any misconception we have of the Father. We will no longer see the Father as a harsh judge, but as a loving, compassionate, merciful Father.


Empowers us to make decisions in the Spirit in practical situations. Helps to overcome obstacles in our spiritual life, to be more open to this gift in others and receive counsel. It is essential to effective leadership. We counsel others through God's leading. Prov. 12:1, 13:18. Mark 13:11.
This gift will help us make decisions in ways that in our own humanness, we would not be able to make. Counsel allows for levels of maturity. As we grow spirituality this gift will grow within us. Counsel is not the gift of counselling others, although it can lead to that or help us when we are mentoring others. Counsel is more of God counselling us, teaching us and leading us closer to him.


Produces a deep trust and sureness about the Lord and the truths of Christian revelation. It keeps our expectant faith from having mismatched expectations. We should grow in the knowledge of faith and the expectations will match the truth. Eph. 4:11-15, Col. 2:2-3.
How do we go about gaining knowledge? We have to not only read and study Scripture, we are to devour it! God's Word is alive and we need to have it burning in our heart. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is indeed a gift to the church in a time when we need to hear the truth. Study the Catechism, and you will gain knowledge. Take advantage of schooling or classes that are offered. Go to days of renewal and share your faith walk with others. We need to desire and seek knowledge to become knowledgeable.


The gift of the Spirit that enlightens our minds and hearts with divine truth so that we can grasp the mysteries of the Lord. Understanding enables us to see the Lord more deeply; Wisdom shows us what He wants us to do. We need Wisdom with its judgements so that understanding can go beyond itself and its insights and bear fruit in action. Col. 1:9-11. Eph. 1:9-10
Understanding draws us closer to God and this is a process of seeing our sinfulness, and trying to purify ourselves of sin. This is a time of becoming aware of even the smallest sin in our life and seeing how offensive it is to God.

As we draw closer to God, our prayer life will take on a new dimension. We will move beyond vocal prayer and enter into a deeper quieter prayer with our Lord. There will be times when we just sit with the Lord and It will seem as though nothing is happening. Prayer is happening and if we do not have understanding we will run from this. Quiet prayer without understanding is very hard to attain. With understanding we can enter quiet prayer knowing we can come before God empty, letting Him fill us.

This gift helps us see that we are on a spiritual journey, a journey in which we are always growing and will often have growing pains. Understanding helps us not to run from growing pains but to embrace them, because it brings us into a deeper relationship with our Beloved.


The spiritual state we arrive at when we become able to make judgements about everything in our lives on the basis of a deep personal union with the Lord in love. As is the case with all the gifts of the Spirit, Wisdom cannot be attained through our own efforts. The Lord must give it to us. He will give it if we ask. James 1:5, 1Cor.2:15-16.
Tradition tells us that wisdom is a form of love. Christian spirituality sees wisdom as love which has been perfected and supernaturalized by the full presence of the Spirit in the soul. Love can be seen as the foundation of the gift of wisdom.

How do we grow in Wisdom? Read, study, and devour the books of wisdom found in the Bible: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom and Sirach. These books of wisdom will teach us how to live our daily lives, how to treat others, and how to be children of God. Beg God for the gift of wisdom!

Seek out those who have wisdom and learn from them. Listen to them and be willing to accept their training and their correction. "He who walks with the wise will become wise" (Pr. 13:20).

Scripture tells us if we are to become wise we are to "put on love", the foundation of wisdom.

With a good understanding of the Isaiah gifts we can see that we need them to work in the power of the Holy Spirit when using the Charismatic gifts. For example, if we are praying for healing and deliverance, and we do not have the foundation of wisdom, knowledge, and fortitude, we will get no where fast. We have to know who God is, and have the strength to persevere in serving Him.

The Isaiah gifts abide or live in us, and they transform us. They are always with us whereas the Charismatic gifts are action gifts. We have the gifts but we call upon them for action, in a special need or circumstance, and in service for others.

We must have the mind of Christ when we call on the gift of prophecy. If we do not know God, we will not be a reliable person for this gift. We do this through prayer and spending time in God's presence, for how can God speak through someone if they do not know Him?

The Charismatic gift of wisdom is to know the mind of the Holy Spirit in such a way as to receive insight into how given knowledge may best be applied to a need arising in the body of Christ. Again we have to have the mind, the knowledge of our Creator to use this gift responsibly.

All of the Charismatic gifts will have more power and effect in our lives when we have asked God to strengthen and stir into flame the Isaiah gifts we received at confirmation. If we do not have a good foundation then when the first storm or trial comes along, we quit; we take our ball and go home. Scripture tells us we are to build our house on solid rock and the solid rock of the Charismatic gifts is the Isaiah gifts.

On a personal note, I was very much surprised in my study of the gifts to see how much the Isaiah gifts are abiding in me. I can see where I have grown in these gifts because of my daily Scripture reading, the schools I have attended, the people our Lord has brought into my life for me to journey with, the books He has lead me to read, and oh so many ways He has been teaching me over the past fourteen years. I also know that there is even more that He wants to teach me, and that I have to continue to be a willing and open vessel.

In Luke 11:9-10 Jesus says this to us.

"And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one knocks the door will be opened."

Let's seek and ask for a deeper understanding of the gifts of Isaiah so we may use the Charismatic gifts with, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I came across this prayer in the booklet An Hour With Jesus . I have found that this prayer has not only helped me grow in these gifts but it has helped my understanding of the gifts.

Wisdom, come to me. In all my ways guide me, that mind and soul may be as one. Come wise Spirit, come.
Understanding, enlighten me. Let this mind of mine, perceive deeply, comprehend and believe calmly. Come understanding Spirit, come.
Counsel, whisper to me. Keep humble this creature asking for advice, for guidance in the problems of our lives. Come counselling Spirit, come.
Knowledge, inform me. May I know the truths revealed, and know myself through truth of faith. Come knowing Spirit, come.
Strength, uphold me. Sustain this life, this breath, this soul, this flesh, and stand with me against the foe. Come, strong Spirit, come.
Devotion, raise me. My heart inflame with loving adoration, with praise and gratitude, with hope and joy. Come, devoted Spirit, come.
Fear of the Lord, penetrate me. With loving awe, let me come to You, in reverence of your holiness, in wonder at Your Grace, on this alone may I depend. Come awesome Spirit, come. (Rev. Peter Elliott)

I pray that my study of these powerful gifts will help you grow closer to God and to encourage you to do your own study. May God pour His Spirit on each one of you and give you the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, strength, devotion, and fear of the Lord. God Bless You!

Suggested reading:

The Bible, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, and Mighty in Spirit by Joseph Bagiackas.

From UPCCR Dov-Net Newsletter, Diocese of Marquette Michigan (Fall,1998)