Praying in the Spirit

Praying in the Spirit

We live in an age of constant communication. Throughout the day, most of us have dozens of contacts with people through phone calls, texts, emails, and social media. This can be very convenient but also very distracting.

Wouldn’t it be great if God had a cell phone, and we could be in constant and direct communication with him? Well, we actually have something better! The Holy Spirit enables us to have an even more direct, more intimate, and more constant connection to our Heavenly Father. Through his presence, we can “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17).  

Prayer is talking to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit. We only come to God the Father because of God the Son. He died to cancel our debt. He rose again to fill us with righteousness, so that we could stand in relationship with God. We are sending our prayers to the Father through Jesus. And yet, God would not hear our prayers without the Spirit. Our prayers wouldn’t reach him without the Spirit carrying them. We pray because we are filled with the Spirit. We pray in the Spirit. If prayer were a cell phone call, the Father would be on the other line, Jesus would be the cell tower, and the Spirit would be the cellular signal!

The book of Jude tells us to be purposeful to bolster our faith. We need to be constant in prayer – not just haphazardly talking to God, but praying in the Holy Spirit and letting him lead, empower, fill, and direct us. As we communion with God in prayer, we’ll be empowered to keep ourselves in the love of God.

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” – Jude 20-21

As we are reminded in Ephesians 6, in a world of constant attacks, we need to be “praying at all times in the Spirit” (v. 18). This means the Spirit is the one who empowers and guides our prayers as we are filled with him. Praying in the Spirit means we are in harmony with his will; he is prompting us and leading us. He is the conduit of our prayers. He lifts our prayers to the Father, through Christ. He energizes our prayers and enables them to flow out of us. It means that we empty ourselves out and ask God to fill us with his Spirit. We’re not praying in our own strength. We’re not praying our own agenda for God, but God’s agenda for us.

In his commentary on Jude, John Calvin writes about the essential role of the Holy Spirit in prayer:

“Such is our sloth, and the coldness of our flesh, that no one can pray rightly except if he is stirred by the Spirit of God; and we are so inclined to timidity and trembling, that no one dares to call God his Father, except through the teaching of the same Spirit; for from him is attentiveness, from him is passion and intensity, from him is eagerness, from his is confidence in obtaining what we ask…no one can pray as he ought without having the Spirit as his guide.”

Praying in the Spirit is not a special kind of prayer, it’s just how a mature Christian effectively prays! Think about the alternative: We have two natures, two realms within us – the flesh and the spirit. They are pulling and battling against each other. The only alternative to praying in the Spirit is praying in the flesh! No one ever said, “Oh, I had a really sweet time with the Lord this morning praying in the flesh!”

So, in a world of constant communication, let’s seek the Holy Spirit to enable us to live in constant prayer with our Heavenly Father. Thankfully, even when we don’t know what to pray, the Spirit helps us.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” – Romans 8:26

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