Praying In The Spirit


Praying In The Spirit

Praying In The Spirit

By Bill Smith

At this present time in whole of the created order, there is a hauntingly bright symphony being performed. The creation is groaning and travailing in the pains of childbirth like the deep, resonating, sad tones of a cello. The groans of the cello are joined in the same melodic progression by the violins of Christians’ groaning. As Christians we find ourselves in harmony with the creation, giving it further voice because we share in the same pain, waiting with the rest of creation for the redemption of our bodies. But there is a third voice; a voice deeper and more fundamental in this symphony that is controlling it and moving it toward its conclusion. It is the double bass of the Spirit, groaning out wordless music to the Father. We and the rest of creation with us have joined with him so that we are taking up his groans and he is taking up our groans in this symphony of prayer.

This is praying in the Spirit.

What the writers of Scripture exhort in shorthand in other places, Paul describes in Romans 8. From here we begin to learn what prayer is. Prayer is not some impersonal spanning of a great distance between us and God through the medium of words. Prayer is participation in the eternal divine conversation. Father, Son/Word, and Spirit have been in this communion of conversation forever. In grace our Triune God has made us members of his family and, therefore, the conversation. We are family members who share the relationship of the Son with the Father because of the Spirit uniting us to the body of Christ. As Paul says to another church, “For through [Christ Jesus] we both [i.e., Jews and Gentiles] have access in one Spirit to the Father.” (Eph 2.18) Prayer is joining the loving conversation that the Holy Trinity is having. As Christians we are not outsiders who somehow hope to gain the ear of our distant God. We are not far off but rather have been brought near in Christ Jesus. We share the same relationship with the Father that Jesus himself shares. Being in the Son is the only reason we can call God, “Father.” But being in the Son means that we do, indeed, have that privilege with Jesus. And it is the Spirit of the Son that God the Father has given us who causes us to cry out, “Abba, Father.” (Gal 4.6)

By the Spirit we are fully incorporated into this family and the family conversation. The Spirit doesn’t merely create a bald status of being a child of God. Rather, he pours the love of God out in our hearts (Rom 5.5) so that we share the love of God. That is, we love what he loves, hate what he hates, want what he wants; we share his sorrows, his joys, his anger, his jealousy, his compassion, his mercy, and his grace. As we pray in the Spirit, these shared desires are given expression. “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Our wills are becoming one with his will. Our hearts are in harmony with the Father, Son, and Spirit. That’s what it means to pray in the Spirit.

When we look around us and see that things are not right, that God’s will is not done on earth as it is in heaven, that the creation is in pain, our hearts groan. But we discover that these groans are not just our own, but they are also the groans of God himself being expressed by the Spirit in us and on our behalf to the Father. When we groan in this way, we are finding ourselves caught up in this symphony that is ultimately being conducted and played by our Triune God. When we find ourselves there, we have found the place of prayer.

Because these groans are not our own but participation with the Holy Trinity, we have the assurance that our groans are not pointless pain. Rather, we groan in hope. The God who groans with us is the same God who is working all things together for good (Rom 8.28). Yes, the creation is subjected to frustration, but it is subjected in hope (Rom 8.20). God has secured this hope through the death and resurrection of his Son and by the giving of his Spirit who is making a new creation. Our groaning prayers will not go unanswered. The haunting music that fills our souls with the rest of creation at present will modulate into the joyful music of dancing in the end.

Praying in the Spirit

~ Kevin Halloran, Anchored in Christ blog

“…Praying at all times in the spirit.” (Ephesians 6:18)

If the spiritual battle is against spiritual enemies, we need help from God’s Spirit. Ephesians 6:10 says, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (emphasis mine). The power comes from God and not from ourselves.

What then is prayer in the Spirit? The Bible doesn’t give us an exact definition. I used to think that it was something complicated like a spiritual rubrics cube—if I can only get my spiritual life and prayers to be a certain way, then I’ll pray in the Spirit with special power. Now I think that prayer in the Spirit is actually a lot simpler.

I like the definition of theologian J.I. Packer:

“Prayer in the Spirit is prayer from the heart, springing from awareness of God, of self, of others, of needs, and of Christ. Whether it comes forth verbalized, as in the prayers and praises recorded in Scripture, or unverbalized… is immaterial…He (or she) whose heart seeks God through Christ prays in the Spirit.”

If we agree with Packer’s definition, we don’t need to worry so much if we’re praying in the Spirit or not, as if a special indicator light would flash when we finally connect with the Spirit of God in prayer. We only need to pray, trust that God hears us, and alight our hearts with His purposes in Christ. Sometimes we will sense the Spirit’s help and presence, other times no. What’s most important is that we dedicate ourselves to God in prayer.

I have two applications for this point, the first is especially relevant for those who desire to be prayer warriors.

1. We need to bring our swords into battle. Our sword, of course, is what Ephesians 6:17 says: the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. If you want to pray in the Spirit, you need to use the sword of the Spirit in prayer.

Know your Bible and pray the Bible. More specifically, pray the prayers of the Bible. Paul, the writer of Ephesians, is a great mentor in prayer. I recommend that you study and pray the two spirit-inspired prayers Paul included in Ephesians: Ephesians 1:15–23 and 3:14-21. Paul basically prayed for the Ephesians to have a deeper understanding and experience of the Gospel—something we all need in increasing measure. Also, study the Psalms and how they communicate with God about the good the bad and the ugly of life.

2. Give time to prayer. Many of us want to pray in the Spirit but we don’t take enough time in prayer to do it.

Sometimes in the mornings, I pray for a little bit and then I realize that my mind has been somewhere else most of the time in prayer. Other times our small group might spend so much time talking that we don’t take time to cry out to the Lord together in prayer.

Many times when we start to pray, we aren’t praying in the Spirit. More time would allow us to focus ourselves and in faith respond to the Word of God in prayer, and as we do that the Spirit will help us more and more.

The Puritans used to say we need to prayuntil we pray—meaning that we can stop praying before the Spirit begins to help us.

We need time to start the motor of prayer to connect with God and pray in His Spirit. When the motor is running, we will see that God will help us with His Spirit to pray for things that we never would have prayed for without His help. This isn’t some mechanical formula to say ‘just spend 15 minutes in prayer and then the Spirit will come’—no, it doesn’t work like that. But we do need to work hard in prayer and take time seeking the face of our God.

If you believe in Christ, the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in you and is always ready to help you to pray.

Will you pray accordingly?

God’s answer is not always yes

We Are Called to Pray for One Another

James 5:13-16 – 13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

From time-to-time – I feel compelled (obligated – duty-bound) to call us to pray for our church – for our pastor – for our leaders – for one another – not only in our local church – but also – to pray for our denomination. According to Scripture:

1 Peter 5:8-9 – 8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith.

The devil is out there and wants nothing more than to devour the church – the people of God! Part of standing firm is to stay in prayer together. How’s your prayer life?

We should pray that the devil not be given even a foothold in our lives and in the church. Scripture says;

Ephesians 4:25-28 – 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

I urge all of our readers to pray for the following and more as the Spirit leads:

  1. Pray for your pastor(s) and leaders to stand firm in their faith with Jesus.
  2. Pray for a spirit of harmony in your local church – it is not necessary for us to always agree – we can even see some things differently – but we must be in harmony with the Word of God and with the essential purposes of the church. In order to reach the unchurched – the church needs to present a harmonious tune in the Spirit! No one will want to join a church that is making terrible noise (we aren’t as a whole but could go there if we don’t stand firm in our faith).
  3. Pray against a spirit of bickering (internal strife). The battle is not against each other folks – it is against powers and principalities of evil. We should not shoot our own wounded – but rather – we should love each other in spite of our shortcomings. Ephesians 6:12 – For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
  4. Pray against a spirit of pickiness. Some have been in negative mode for such a long season – it seems almost natural to look at what is wrong rather than what is right with the church or pastor. We should not let issues go unaddressed for sure but should handle them in love and not in attack mode!
  5. Pray for the next few months (until February 2019 for example) – pray for the life of your church. The next few months will determine the course of our church in future years. As we discern a plan for the future and into the day-to-day life of the church – we should pray that we will be open to where God leads us. Pray also that the church will follow God’s lead.
  6. Pray for the church’s daily devotion to Christ!

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way!


Comment at Ray’s blog:

Five Marks of Effective Prayer

We thank You, Lord, that Your love is the greatest love of all

“Love is as strong as death … It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it” (Song of Solomon 7:6-7). We thank You, Lord, that Your love is the greatest love of all: “Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). We can never earn Your love: “If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned” (Song of Solomon 8:7). Your love is always Your gift to us. May Your love burn, in our hearts, “like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame” – a fire that burns up our dross, a refining fire that purifies us, a flame that burns for Your glory.