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?

20 Scriptures to Pray as WORSHIP

What I Think We’re Missing In Philippians 1:19-26

It’s always a bit troublesome to me whenever I see something in a text that others aren’t seeing. That’s usually how heretics are made. But I’m absolutely convinced that what I’m seeing in Philippians 1:19-26 is completely orthodox and more importantly it’s there in the text.

This isn’t a major point but I think it helps us to understand more the meaning of what Paul is doing here in the text. When most people preach/teach on Philippians 1:19-26 the emphasis is on Paul’s conundrum and his very quotable statement, “for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” That’s incredibly easy to preach. Can you say that for you to live “is Christ” and can you say that if you died today it would be “gain”. That’s the sermon—tie a bow on it, give some response time and call it a day.

I’m convinced there is something going on underneath of this passage that is often overlooked. Why has the Spirit of God inspired Paul to “think out loud” here? What’s he doing? Why give them his conundrum?

Because Paul is modeling for us here.

Consider Philippians 1:9-11. This is Paul’s prayer for the church at Philippi. He is praying that they’ll have a grounded love so that they will choose what is excellent and so live in such a way that they won’t be ashamed when they stand before Christ. The picture is of a person having a million choices and a stamp which can only deem one thing necessary at any given time. Paul is praying that love would motivate that selection. And if it does you can guarantee that one will not waste their life.

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A Prayer that We Will Shout for Joy

by Michael Summers

King David served God with passion. He badly wanted to build a place for worshipping God that would honor his Lord appropriately. David did not get to see his dream come to fruition. Nathan the prophet conveyed to him a message from God that the Lord had not asked for such an edifice, and that David’s hands were too covered with blood to build it. David’s son would build the temple, but David spared no expense to make sure that all the materials were obtained, the plans made, and the roles for temple servants arranged. Psalm 132, sung by worshippers preparing to worship at or traveling to the temple, is a prayer that calls on God to remember David’s fervent desire to build a dwelling place for the Lord. The psalm calls on God to honor his promises to David and to bless those who serve or worship in that place:

“Remember, O LORD, in David’s favor, the hardships he endured, how he swore to the LORD, and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob, ‘I will not enter my house or get into my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for t he Mighty One of Jacob’” (Psalm 132:1-5).

The news resounded throughout the land, and so they, the worshippers and singers, went to worship the Lord in Jerusalem, saying, “Let us go to his dwelling place let us worship at his footstool.” The passages that describe the dedication of the temple make it clear that God is not confined to it. His name dwells there. He shows his glory there. Specifically, his presence is associated with the ark of the covenant, above which he dwells. Verses 8-10 are almost identical to the last verses of 2 Chronicles 6. They seem to describe what was sung as the Levites took ark of the covenant into the temple at its dedication:

“Arise, O LORD, and go to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your saints shout for joy. For the sake of your servant David, do not turn away the face of your anointed one” (Psalm 132:8-10).

A prayer for the entry of God’s presence into the house of worship segues into a petition on behalf of his priests and his holy ones or saints. The worshippers pray for the priests, those serving in the temple. This part of the psalm gets more involved for Christians. In 1 Peter 2:9, the apostle informs Christians, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” As Christians read, pray, or sing this psalm today, the words become a request that God will clothe us with righteousness, and let us shout for joy as his people. Psalm 132 reminds also that God had promised that David’s lineage will reign forever. The New Testament picks up this promise by linking it to a descendant of David, Jesus, who also in a spiritual sense is a king like David. Psalm 132 ends with a response from the Lord that affirms that the prayer of the worshippers has been heard. God will grant their (and our) request:

“This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provisions; I will satisfy her poor with bread. Here priests I will clothe with salvation, and here saints will shout for joy. There I will make a horn to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed” (Psalm 132:14-17).

God has prepared for his anointed (Christ means “anointed”). He clothes his priests (Christians) with salvation and his saints shout for joy.. Psalm 132 reminds the worshipper of God’s presence and care. Its words affirm that God keeps his promises. They celebrate salvation and joy. The psalm, however, begins with a prayer that God will remember David’s hardships. We may pray, too, that he will acknowledge our own work and sacrifice on his behalf. Nehemiah also asked the Lord to remember what he had done for God’s people Israel (Nehemiah 5:19). Psalm 132 anticipates the victory of God’s anointed, his Christ, his Messiah. When we read this psalm, we remember that being a priest or servant for God requires living up to high standards of righteousness and holiness.

  • Bible Quotations are from the English Standard Version

O Lord, remember our service on your behalf and the sacrifices we have made. Remember losses we have suffered and pain we have incurred. Remind us that you have healed our hurts and have commissioned us to be your priests and holy ones. Increase our joy as we meditate on our forgiveness and the reality of our salvation. Suffering and temptation distract us. They sadden us and we forget your love; we begin to doubt. We pray that we will shout for joy when we remember what you have done for us. Thank you for Jesus, your Messiah, descendant of David, but even more your Son. In his name we pray, amen.


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Colossal Truths from the Letter to the Colossians! Public Prayer! (1:9-14)

by Dr. Larry Dixon

We are looking at prominent themes in the epistle to the Colossians. And this morning we want to once again notice the theme of prayer in Chapter 1 (before we move on to Chapter 2). We’ve already seen Paul’s labor in prayer for these believers, but something else in his prayer has gotten my attention. […]

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