Ephesians 6: 18
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Romans 8: 26 (MSG)
… God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
1 Corinthians 14: 14-15
For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.
Jude 20 (RSV)
But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit…
The moment you become part of God’s family through faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within your own human spirit bringing it back to life. From this place of indwelling, the Spirit strengthens us and imparts God’s wisdom and desires into our inner being. Paul expresses something of this in 1 Cor 2: 11-12:
“…no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.”
In Romans 8, Paul goes on to explain how the Spirit intensely intercedes for us, praying God’s perfect will over our lives and future:
“...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.” (Rom 8: 26-27)
Incredibly, Hebrews 7: 25 also mentions that Jesus himself intercedes for his people.
As we come to converse and commune with God in prayer, often we struggle to articulate what we are longing for God to do or we find it difficult to express what we are really trying to say. It’s so good to know that we are entering into a conversation which is already taking place within the Trinity. Jesus is pleading our case before the Father while the Spirit is communicating our deepest needs, hurts, heartaches, desires and delights with perfect perspective and complete clarity. In fact, the prayers of the Holy Spirit for us are so focused, specific and in tune with the heartbeat of Heaven, that if we could just pick up on some of those prayers and repeat, declare and decree them over our lives, we would we praying in “good, pleasing and perfect will” of God. (Rom 12: 2)
How do we know what the Holy Spirit is praying for us? We ask and listen. We simply say: “Holy Spirit, thank you that right now you are praying on my behalf. Help me in the stillness to hear your heart and sense your stirrings.” It can be good to have a notebook and pen and simply jot down what you think the Spirit might be saying.
The other way to “pray in the Spirit” is to use your prayer language, which Paul calls “praying in tongues”. I’m very aware that not everyone has yet experienced this gift of grace, and while I would not want to be so emphatic as to say that every Christian can speak in tongues, in my own experience, it is something which, with time and openness, most believers can enter into and enjoy.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians that when we pray in tongues, we are verbally expressing the will of God’s Spirit being communicated to our spirit and then through our lips in a language we don’t understand. Paul and Jude both say that such supernatural language builds us up, edifies us and strengthens us. Tongues is a wonderful blessing and one which sadly too many Christians use infrequently. Phil Moore makes it simple: “Jesus wants to help you speak spiritual words by the power of his Spirit as a help towards fulfilling this stage in his mission.”
Many of us have said what is commonly called “The Grace” as a prayer of blessing without realising what exactly this prayer of Paul at the end on 2 Corinthians is expressing:
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (13: 14)
Fellowship means friendship, communion, intimacy, companionship and relationship. The Holy Spirit is not a force to be used, he is a friend to be known. As we get to know him and recognise his voice, we participate in his prayers for us, we sense his prompts and obey his whisper. As Jesus told the disciples just before his departure, the Spirit lovingly leads us into all the good things God has planned for us:
“…when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.’” (John 16: 12-15)
This weekend, take some time to be still in the presence of the Holy Spirit, enjoy his company, ask him to express his heart, hear his prayers and join in the conversation of Heaven.
We look forward to seeing you this Sunday at 9.30 am, 11.30 am and 7.00 pm.