The Armor of God part 8, Prayer in the Spirit
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” KJV
Prayer is a subject that we often take for granted. Many of us were taught to pray during childhood, using various model prayers. We request prayers when in need, or when someone we know is need, and often we see encouraging results. In my opinion, almost any prayer is better than no prayer. James in his letter does warn that we can ask for the wrong things, and he also warns that we can ask for the right things in a wrong way. He called for effective prayers. If there are effective prayers, than it is possible that there might also be ineffective prayers.
Jesus taught that we should pray for our personal needs to be met, and that God cares about them. At the same time, He put forth priorities in prayer. Before asking for daily material needs, He instructs us to pray that the Name of our Father God would be honored through holiness, that His Kingdom would come, and that His will would be done in earth as in heaven. These are the overarching principles for all prayer.
After asking for our daily bread, we ask for forgiveness, and offer forgiveness to others. Also important is that we ask for deliverance from evil. Of course we know from the example of Jesus, and elsewhere in the New Testament that prayer for others should not be neglected either.
In some ways prayer comes very natural. We hope for things that we cannot make happen ourselves, and cry out to God for them. Other times prayer seems like a chore. It is like talking into the air. It can even feel like a waste of time.
One thing I am grateful for today is the way I have at various times found myself in the presence of people who had intimate relationships with God. They could talk to Him as someone they knew very well. At the same time, they held a marvelous reverence for Him. When they prayed, the presence of God would fill the room they were in.
For this reason I am convinced that Biblical, New Testament Christianity still exists today. When I read of the disciples gathering for prayer until they were filled with power from heaven, I can identify with them!
In the early days of the Twentieth Century a number of believers in Christ sought for this kind of prayer and relationship with God. Across the Atlantic in Wales, and here in America, small groups determined to know Christ in this way. They did not know what and how God would respond, but respond He did! Over the course of several years, many were saved, healed, and strengthened in their Christian walk. Throughout the history of the church we have seen this kind of hunger bring about great times of revival, but this time there was something different. In the past, when the periods of revival ended, things began to settle back down to “normal.”
Things did calm down after a few years, but the memory and the lasting impression caused the beginning of a major change in the Christian world. No longer would a powerless church be seen as “normal.” We knew what the Early Church experienced is still available for us today! In spite of the fact that there was much confusion and misunderstanding, the fire has not subsided for over one hundred years! The doctrinal disagreements and errors have not annulled the fact that God has initiated something among His people that we all must face. If we are to be faithful to the Christian faith that has been delivered to us from Christ and His apostles, we must be faithful to His call for Prayer IN THE SPIRIT!
As I have already said, almost any prayer is better than no prayer. However, there is a special kind of prayer that we see in Jesus and the apostles, and even in the saints of church history. The expressions, “in the Spirit”, and “filled with the Spirit” speak in the Old and New Testaments of a special state in which extra ordinary signs, miracles and healings take place. Paul writes about the ability to “sing in the Spirit,” and “pray in the Spirit.” John in Revelations tells us that he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.”
What is debatable to some, is quite clear to others. Some might be offended by what I believe, or call it emotionalism. I can only speak of the experience from God, for which by the way, I did not seek! Paul, who taught that love is the greatest gift of all, also taught that supernatural gifts from God where given by God to build up the community of believers. In several places he tells of a prayer that is basically initiated by the Holy Spirit Himself. Sometimes we do not fully understand what He is praying through us, but we know that it is the will of God for the given situation. There is also the blessing of understanding the prayer when we ask for it.
The important thing is that we receive power from the Holy Spirit in special situations. In this case, by giving ourselves over to the Holy Spirit when we pray, we build up ourselves, our spiritual family, and we advance with boldness the cause of the Gospel which brings victory over the darkness!
All I am asking is for you to read the New Testament, and especially the book of Acts with an openness to what I am saying here. You may already be satisfied with your prayer life, but if not you may be in for a pleasant surprise! Ask God for His supernatural power in prayer and be willing to let His power flow through you in the manner that pleases Him. I hope you will let me know what happens then!