Pray in the Spirit (19-08-20)
Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Ephesians 6:11,18)
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)
Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. (Acts 13:1-3)
If I go to do the supermarket shopping, it is no good me just driving up to the supermarket, wandering in and helping myself to a trolly full of random items that take my fancy. If I did that I would arrive home and Helen would not be a happy bunny!
If I go to do the supermarket shopping with a shopping list that I have written before I go, I might spend a lot less, but Helen would still not be a happy bunny!
But, If I go to do the supermarket shopping with a shopping list that I have discussed with Helen before I go, I stand a good chance of getting home to a very happy bunny.
Somewhere in that analogy I think there is something about praying in the Spirit.
On ‘all occasions’ when we pray, according to Paul, we should pray ‘in the Spirit’, which suggests to me that, rather than just coming to God with our own shopping list, we should be guided by the Spirit of God about the things we are praying for, so that the things we pray for are according to his plans and purposes.
There is a clear example of this when the church in Antioch was inspired by God’s Holy Spirit to send Paul and Barnabas out on the first of Paul’s great missionary journeys to take the Christian faith far and wide.
God’s Spirit may not guide our prayers in such dramatic ways, but Paul says we should pray in the Spirit ‘with all kinds of prayers and requests’. I think there are times for all of us when, if we listen for God’s inner voice, he will guide us in the things we pray, or do, or say.
There are also times, often difficult times, when we just don’t know how to pray, and we just groan inside over a particular situation. It is at those times that Paul says, ‘the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.’ Be encouraged, God hears your groans and understands the spirit of the unspoken prayer that is behind them.
Pray in the Spirit
Take some time now to hold a person or situation that concerns you before God. Allow his Spirit to guide you in your prayers, with words or groans.