In this article I would like to cover a subject that has often been controversial in various realms of Christianity. It is however an essential piece for experiencing a well rounded prayer life. What I am referring to is what the Bible calls praying in the Spirit.
With anything in the Christian life: praying, soulwinning, preaching, it can be done in the flesh, or in the Spirit. If your expecting results that will last for eternity from these activities than you must enlist the Spirit’s help. Paul gives us the best outline for praying in the Spirit, lets study it phrase by phrase. Romans 8:26-28 says, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
The Spirit helpeth our infirmities- I don’t know about you but I’m glad the God has provided me a prayer partner for me because I have many weaknesses that make me a poor prayer warrior. Lets look at how the Holy Spirit provides His help to us.
Helpeth- The word translated helpeth in this passage is the greek word sunantilambanomai (Strongs #4878) which means to take hold of together with against something. When you are praying you are literally batting with demonic forces to accomplish things in the heavenlies. For instance while Daniel prayed for Israel in Daniel Chapter 10 there was an intense warfare going on in the Heavenlies to prevent him from getting an answer.
Satan does not want you to pray effectively, and will use a variety of weapons to stop you. Racing thoughts, television, bickering with a spouse are just some of his weapons. Thanks be to God we do not have to go it alone, the Holy Spirit wants to take hold of the weapon of prayer with you, and help you use it against Satan. He doesn’t want to just pray through you, He wants to pray together with you. In John 16:7 Jesus called the Holy Spirit the comforter which is the greek word Parakletos. Parakletos means, a helper, and interceeder, one who come along side to help. God sent us the Holy Spirit to come along side of us and help us in the work of intercession
Infirmities- The greek word for infirmities is asthenia, and literally means an inability to produce results. You mean to tell me that the great Apostle Paul admitted to having an inability to produce results in prayer! Absolutely, apart from God’s divine enablement the best efforts of sinful men will produce little results. In fact a good definition of sin is falling short, or missing the mark. One of the Hebrew words for intercession (paga) has as one of its definitions striking the mark. Because prayer is like a long range missile, and when we partner with the Holy Spirit we can make missile strikes against his territory that will always hit the mark.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to do something that is not going to produce results. Fortunately we have at our disposal the same power that help create the universe, and resurrect Jesus from the dead. So today as you pray acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s role ask for His help. and be prepared to be amazed by the results.
For we know not- Paul makes an amazing statement we don’t have a clue what to pray for. The most amazing thing about that statement is he includes himself. If anyone in all of history would pray right: he was educated at the feet of Gamaliel, was a pharisee of the pharisee’s, he was hand picked by God to take the Gospel to the gentiles. Furthermore, he wrote a large part of the new testament while simultaneously planting dozens of churches. Despite all of that Paul said apart from divine enablement I don’t know what to pray for. Paul knew that his flesh, and deceitful heart would make it impossible to ever pray the right prayer.
Well if the Apostle Paul doesn’t know what to pray for then we can be sure we don’t. Consequently we must be completely reliant on the Holy Spirit to be leading, and guiding our prayers. That is why it is a good discipline to be asking God what to pray for. You see we treat God like some cosmic Santa Clause, that’s just there to listen to all our wants, and needs. Don’t get me wrong God wants to take care of you, but what he really wants is to have a relationship with you. Relationships require two way communication not just talking listening. What relationship has ever lasted when one party always talked, and never listened. God wants to tell you what to pray for. So put away your Christmas list, and auctioneer voice, and start asking God questions then shutup and listen to His answers.
Why is it important to pray for the things God leads you to pray for instead of always whats on your prayer list? Because what God leads you to pray for He will bring to pass. 1 John 5:14-15 says it this way, “…this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” So if you pray according to the will of God He will hear, and he will answer.” But how do we determine the will of God? Two ways the word of God, and the Spirit of God. That is why it is tremendously important to pray scripture, but it is also important to be led of the Spirit in your prayer.
as we ought- In modern usage ought is an expression of desire with no real intention of follow through. For instance, “I really ought to go to the store”, or ” I really ought to start exercising.” That is not at all what ought means in this verse. The word translated “ought” is the greek word dei, which means that which is required, a necessity, or that which is legally binding. So for instance when Jesus says, “men ought always to pray, and not to faint” He is not saying it sure would be nice if you prayed. No way, He is saying it is legally binding upon you that you pray.
So in other words Paul is not saying, “you know we really should pray a certain way, but we don’t know how.” Rather he is emphasizing the fact that is it essential, and legally binding that we pray for the right things, at the right time, in the right way, but we don’t have a clue how to apart from the Holy Spirit. So in our praying we need set aside our agenda, and let God lead us. E.M. Bounds said, “it is better to have prayer without words, then words without prayer.” Take time to ask God how to pray, when to pray, and what to pray for. Then listen to what He has to say. Today lets make our prayers a conversation, a dialogue not a monologue.
God led prayer- The amazing thing about partnering with God is you always know what to pray, when to pray, and how long to pray for, if your letting God lead. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said,
“Always respond to every impulse to pray. The impulse to pray may come when you are reading or when you are battling with a text. I would make an absolute law of this – always obey such an impulse.” You see God is omniscient, meaning He knows everything so rather than bringing the same prayer list you have been bringing for twenty years to Him ask Him what to pray for. No other relationship in the universe survives on 1 way communication, you have to listen. So why is it that we talk to God, and ask Him questions then don’t wait for an answer? God wants to tell you what to pray for why don’t we start letting Him.
Birthing- Praying in the Spirit is a lot like having a baby! The Holy Spirit impregnates our minds with holy passions, desires, and prayer burdens. Then as a midwife praying in us, and through us He births the prayer burden into being. Oswald Chambers said of this, “Is the Son of God praying in me, or am I dictating to Him?….Prayer is not simply getting things from God, that is a most initial form of prayer; prayer is getting into perfect communion with God. If the Son of God is formed in us by regeneration, He will press forward in front of our common sense and change our attitude to the things about which we pray.” Jonathan Edwards similarly said, “The true spirit of prayer is no other than God’s own Spirit dwelling in the hearts of the saints. And as this spirit comes from God, so doth it naturally tend to God in holy breathings and pantings. It naturally leads to God, to converse with him by prayer.”
Words are overrated- Newsflash, prayer does not require you to say a thing words are way overrated in prayer. For instance some times we don’t know what to say, sometimes God is trying to talk to us, sometimes God is searching our hearts. The Psalms state, “Be still, and know that I am God” we don’t have to talk all the time. In America with our TV, Movies, Radios, Internet, Text Messaging, etc. We feel as if we must always have noise going, and be communicating. It would scare the average Christian to death to just hang out with the Lord without it being in their planner, with an agenda, a prayer list etc. What happened to just having a relationship with God? That is what the Holy Spirit can accomplish through you perfect communion with God no words required. Just bringing us into a “spirit of prayer”.
Because, “words are overrated” may be a controversial statement lets hear from some past prayer warriors.
E.M. Bounds said, “It is better to have prayer without words, then words without prayer.”
John Bunyan said, “In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
Martin Luther said, “The fewer the words, the better the prayer.”
So today lets start listening to God, and letting Him lead you in prayer, acknowledge the Holy Spirit in the prayer closet. Acknowledge your inability to produce results, the fact you don’t know how to pray. Ask for His help, His guidance, and listen to what He has to say.
Continuing in our series on How to pray in the Spirit Pauls says in Romans 8:26, “…but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
Groaning which cannot be uttered-
In verse 26 the word groanings is the greek word, stenagmos which means heart murmurings. It is used in Acts 7:34, “…I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them.” As the Holy Spirit births prayer burdens in our heart we have a fervent desire to express these things eloquently in prayer in such a way as to be answered. However often we can’t put words to the burdens of our heart, and we really just groan in our spirit, but don’t feel as if we’re accomplishing much. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit takes the groanings of our heart and turns them into intelligible prayers that God answers.
There are many examples of men and women who were so burdened for something that they couldn’t do anything but groan in prayer, but God answered them. An Old Testament example of course would be Hannah, she was in so much agony, and groaning in prayer for a child that the priest thought she was drunk.
In more modern times the example of Daniel Nash is instructive. He was one of Charles Finney’s advance men, meaning he would enter a city several weeks or months before a meeting just to pray. Finney relates a story of His prayer,
“When I got to town to start a revival a lady contacted me who ran a boarding house. She said, “Brother Finney, do you know a Father Nash? He and two other men have been at my boarding house for the last three days, but they haven’t eaten a bite of food. I opened the door and peeped in at them because I could hear them groaning, and I saw them down on their faces. They have been this way for three days, lying prostrate on the floor and groaning. I thought something awful must have happened to them. I was afraid to go in and I didn’t know what to do. Would you please come see about them?” “No it isn’t necessary,” I replied. “They just have a spirit of travail in prayer.”
In his travail for souls, like a woman in labor, all that Daniel Nash could do was groan. It is interesting to note that after Nash died, Finney stopped holding meetings, and took a church the groaning prayer warrior that had helped bring thousands to Christ through his meetings was dead.
According to the will of God- The Bibles says in verse 27, “…he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” What this means is that the Holy Spirit and God the father our in constant communion. The Holy Spirit takes our feeble prayers which have an inability to produce results, and turns them into prayers that are according to the will of God. Why is this important you ask?
1 John 5:14-15 explains, “…this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” Quite simply put the prayer that is according to God’s will is the prayer that He answers. So how do we know the will of God? Two ways, the Word of God, and the Spirit of God. This is why it is so essential to pray the word of God. When we claim one of the 7,000 promises of the Word of God in prayer, we are praying the will of God.
Likewise it is just as essential to incorporate the Spirit of God in prayer. Because He is God, He obviously knows what His will is. So instead of bringing the same prayer list you have been praying over for twenty years. Start asking God what should I pray for? When you pray for what He tells you, you will always have your prayer answered because it is the will of God. So now that we have seen the many benefits of praying in the Spirit, lets start doing it the results will be amazing.