"With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints" (Ephesians 6:18)
Prayer is a conversation of the soul and heart with the Almighty Most High God through our Lord Jesus Christ. As Jesus ever intercedes to the Father for us, it is we who must pray in His Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, in the power of the Holy Spirit. God is a Spirit, and we, as His creation trapped within the tent of our flesh, cannot speak to Him as we talk to each other. He, our Heavenly Father, is a Holy Righteous El Shaddai the Almighty, and we are but fallen images of Him and have fallen short of His glory. We who have accepted Jesus as our Savior have a High Priest who sits at the Throne of God’s Grace and prays our concerns and seeks our comfort from the Father. All prayer then must come from the Spirit of Truth. "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come." (John 16:13)
Prayer is the act of making a devout petition to God, it is a spiritual communion with God in which we offer our thankfulness for His many blessings, we worship Him for only He is worthy of our praise and honor, we confess that we have fallen short in our life of professing His name, and we give our supplications to Him. Prayer is a constant activity that we involve ourselves in throughout our day in that who would we most want to be in communion with. It is a desire to draw closer to God, as He is the provider of our life in the abundance of His provision. As we draw nearer to God He will come closer to us. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." (James 4:8) There is a connection to prayer and the Holy Spirit in the Bible. We cannot approach God as we presently are; we cannot fully understand God. He is too wonderful for us, but we pray through the Holy Spirit who prays for us.
When our prayers are filled by the Holy Spirit, it is a whole new dimension. We have left the reality of the physical and entered into the spiritual realm. We live and pray in the name of Jesus. Prayer is not only what we can ask Him do for us but what He can do through us. When the Roman Cohort came to take Him away on the day of His crucifixion they were thrown back by the power of His name. "So when He said to them, "I am He," they drew back and fell to the ground." (John 18:6)
We live our lives in our physical strength, but if we would live in the power of the Holy Spirit then we could have an experience of unlimited potential. Jesus told His disciples, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:19) When we pray to God, who is Spirit, we must pray in the power of the Holy Spirit and pray in truth to receive the power that He will give unto His servants. "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24) We live in a physical realm, but we can and should live in the power of the spiritual realm.
After the ascension of Jesus to the throne of the Father, the disciples returned to Jerusalem and waited for the power of the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room. We see by their example that the Holy Spirit is attracted by fervent prayer. As they remained there praying in one spiritual accord that they would receive the power that Jesus, their Lord, had promised. Their praise and worship, their continuance in prayer ushered in the Holy Spirit. "These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers." (Acts 1:14)
The Holy Spirit came and anointed each of them, and they were given power to accomplish the mission that they had received from their Lord Jesus Christ. On the Day of Pentecost is the birth of the Church of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the power that the gates of hell cannot prevail against the power of God’s Spirit. "And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance." (Acts 2:2-4) On that day the Holy Spirit opened the hearts of thousands, and they committed their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Soon after, the Church fell under persecution, and the Apostles Peter and John were arrested. Annas, the High Priest who had them arrested, questioned them harshly. Then Peter filled by the Holy Spirit testified on behalf of his Lord as to the power that they had. Annas forbid them to continue to speak further of Jesus as many were being saved and leaving the Jewish tradition. Peter and John were servants of the King of kings, and therefore they would continue to testify of their faith. "But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:19-20) No charges were found where they could be held, and they were released.
Peter and John reported back to their companions to speak of all that had happened in the court of the High Priest. They were worried that this persecution would continue and prohibit the spreading of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. They gathered together and prayed, and the Holy Spirit came and answered their prayer. "And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness." (Acts 4:31)
We also see a connection to Baptism and prayer in the drawing of the Holy Spirit. When the Apostle Peter was asked what should be done to be saved he answered, "Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38) When Jesus came down to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptist there was a multitude there. When Jesus was baptized by John He was anointed by the Holy Spirit after He had prayed. "Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased." (Luke 3:21-22) We must note here that Jesus was praying when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him.
The Apostle Paul tells us that we are to pray continually. "Pray without ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Our prayers attract the Holy Spirit, and He comes to us in prayer. If we are to be guided in the abundant life that Jesus has promised us, then the sails of our faith must be filled by the Holy Spirit. If we as Christians are to be Spirit-led, then we must be praying Christians. If we as the members of His body, the Church, are to be Spirit-led, then we must be a praying Church body. Prayer attracts the participation of the Holy Spirit into our lives.
We, as humans, creatures of the Creator, cannot effectively communicate with Him. We can only think as creatures, and we can only speak in the mental capacity of creatures. We communicate using our physical senses while God communicates in His spiritual abilities. God understands us, but we cannot fully understand Him. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)
As Jesus bridged the gap between unrighteous man and a righteous God, the Holy Spirit enables us to communicate with God, who is superior to our ability to comprehend. The Holy Spirit is our counselor who enlightens us to the truth of God’s will. "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment." (John 16:8) As Jesus has reconciled us to God the Holy Spirit empowers us to communicate with God. "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." (Romans 8:26-27)
We all come to the altar of prayer with our needs and wants, our burdens and concerns, both for ourselves and, more importantly, for others. But we must remember that it is not about us; it is about God and His plan and purpose for our life. If we think a moment about that we realize that it is a great privilege and tremendous responsibility. His plan and purpose is not only a lifetime work here but an eternal work that is everlasting. When we think in these infinite terms we often realize that we do not know what to pray for. The Holy Spirit empowers our prayers in that He knows that which God needs from us, and that which we need from God.
We must remember that every conversation requires at least two with a shared responsibility to speak and to listen. I have slowly learned that some of the best prayer time I have had is when I wait upon the Lord in silence until the Holy Spirit comes and speaks God’s message to me. To me what I have to say is important, but I have always been amazed that what the Lord has to say is far superior to my small thinking. The other side of this is when I wait upon the Lord the Holy Spirit leads me into what to say. Jesus said, "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words." (Matthew 6:7) Allowing the Holy Spirit to direct us in our prayers will enable us to have the most rewarding prayer life imaginable both to and from God.
To be known as a faithful prayer warrior we must be Spirit-led in our prayers. Prayer like any conversation with anyone becomes more effective as we often engage in it. To have the best prayer life with our Creator God Almighty is to be led by the direction of and empowered by the Holy Spirit. If the heart’s desire is to be with the Lord, then it is not someday in the near future it is now through prayer. Let us follow the words of Jude and build up our faith in Spirit-led prayer. "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life." (Jude 1:20)
Thomas N Kirkpatrick
First Baptist Church of Durant, October 14, 2015