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Pray in the Spirit

by David Johnson

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Broadcast)

 

It is good to be together again as we look into the Word of God.  The title of our lesson today is “Pray in the Spirit” and our text comes from the New Testament book of Ephesians chapter 6 verse 18.  Listen to the Word of God:

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.

This is the will, the Word of God.  May we practice it daily.

Most, if not all of us have a spare tire in our cars.  Just in case we have a flat or a slow leak of air.  We don’t think about our spare until we need it.  But when something goes wrong, we look to the spare to get us out of a bad situation.  Also for many of us, prayer is like that.  It’s like a spare tire.  It’s for just in case we get into a bad situation.  It’s common to neglect prayer, or just sprinkle a little prayer upon rising, meals, and retiring for the evening.  Usually for many of us, prayer only becomes urgent when we face something we can’t fir ourselves, something really bad.

This should not be!  Believers in God must also be believers in prayer, exercising prayer daily, deeply, desiring to communicate, connect with the living God in good times and bad times.  Someone has written “A bad hemmed in prayer is less likely to come unraveled.”  And we all live with unraveling in our lives.  Our Christian prayerful attitude should be “I must talk to Father about this!”  When we have so much to do, our first action should be “I need to pray about this!”  I need to take this to the Father.  We need to pray when we feel we need it, for it is sinning to neglect it; we need to pray when we don’t feel like it because it’s dangerous to remain in prayerlessness.  Every sin, every failure, every lack, God has a remedy for it if we would sufficiently and effectually pray!  Prayerlessness is behind every Christian’s fruitlessness, powerlessness and joylessness.  It’s fervent prayer that moves the heart of God to our benefit!  We may know these things intellectually, but do we practice them personally?

Is the believer’s prayerlessness really sinning?  Scripture affirms this consider from First Samuel 12:23 “…as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.”  The context here is Samuel the priest, prophet and judge-leader of Israel who knew the peoples’ insistence for a king, like the nations around them, was premature and wrongfully motivated.  But God in his grace, would allow them to have a king if they would remain steadfastly obedient to their God.  Samuel knew he needed to remain fervent in his prayers for the people.  Centuries later the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 15:1 revealed the Lord’s tribute to Samuel as a man of great intercessory prayer.  So, we should be, also believers fervent in prayer Praying for others, not just ourselves.

In fact, according to First Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray continually” is God’s will and command.  And this verse has no immediate context.  It is included as final instructions from Paul to the church, as a bold command that Christians are to pray without ceasing.  This does not mean mindlessly, nor continuously without a break, but rather consistently and persistently, focused toward God.  Coming from Luke 18:1 “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

This command from Jesus applies to us also as his 21st century disciples (followers).  Likewise, as described in that parable we should not give up on prayers in spite of the hassles and hardships of everyday life upon our “praying continually.”  We can apply the words of Jesus in Luke 18:7 “…And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?”

The comprehensive character of our prayer life is detailed for us in Ephesians 6:18 “Pray in the Spirit” refers to our submission in prayers to the Lord’s will, not our will be done.  “On all occasions” refers to our frequency of prayers.  “With all kinds of prayers and requests” refers to our variety of prayers: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (Acts).  “Be alert” refers to the manner of our prayers, vigilant, aware of our constant need of prayer.  “Always keep on praying” refers to the persistency of our praying continuously.  “For all the saints” refers to important objects of our prayers.

So, when we do not pray similarly we are disobedient, rendering us powerless in our prayerlessness.  Many are lax in prayer because we often think God doesn’t hear us, doesn’t answer us, or that prayer just doesn’t work.  For some of us, prayer is like putting four quarters in a Coke machine, pushing the button, and not getting a Coke.  So, we push the button again and again waiting for our Coke, which never comes.  Finally, forgetting the Coke, we just wave our hand and walk away.  Many have given up on persistent prayer because, while it is something we know we ought to do, we feel it just doesn’t work.  We don’t get what we think we deserve.  We don’t get what we want quickly.

Contrast the previous illustration which is often our mindset regarding our prayer petitions with the testimony of a very fervent Christian of persistent prayer.  “I began to pray for the conversion of five individuals.  I prayed every day without a single intermission, whether sick or in health, and whatever the pressure of my engagements.  Eighteen months elapsed before the first of the five was converted.  I thanked God and prayed on for the others.  Five years elapsed, and the second was converted.  I thanked God for the second, and prayed on tor the other three.  Day by day I continued to pray for them, and six years passed before the third was converted.  I thanked God for the three, and went on praying for the other two.  These two remained unconverted.  I prayed day by day for nearly thirty-six years for the conversion of these individuals, and yet these two remained unconverted.  But I hope in God, I pray on, and look yet for the answer.  They are not converted yet, but they will be.”  George Muller was a tremendous man of prayerfulness, with great faith, fervency, frequency, persisting and submission in a holy life of prayer.  George Muller lived to be 93 years of age at his falling asleep in Jesus!  He prayed in total for fifty-two years daily for these two remaining un converted ones.  Shortly after Muller’s death both were converted!  If God answered his prayers quickly he thanked God.  If not, George Muller did not give up, he kept praying.  We all have loved ones, friends who we could and should pray for daily who are unconverted or backslidden.  We can receive similar results if we pray with faith, fervency, frequency persistently and in submission in holy lives of prayer.  Any leave the rest to an all-powerful, all-knowing God.

So, how can we overcome the sin of prayerlessness?  First: Set apart a time of prayer every day, preferably when we will not be interrupted or distracted.  Seek the Lord in prayer, some are aided with Bible meditation at the same time.  Make it a daily habit.  From Proverbs 8:17 “I love those who love me and those who seek me – find me.” (KJV) “…those that seek me early shall find me.”  Second: Make a habit of praying through about every burden and problem that comes to us.  We will not get an answer on our timetable, but on God’s.  But we can get a peace to know, as we continue to pray through, that we have left the prayer concern in God’s hands, so to speak.  Or we can pray through until God’s Holy Spirit helps us see how we should modify our prayer to pray in God’s will.  Continue to pray in faith and fervency and leave the worry and anxiety with God.

Third:  Take time out to pray about things as they come up.  Don’t say “I’ll pray about that.”  Start praying right away, even a short prayer, and continue later.  This helps reinforce the prayer concern in our minds and memories.  Prayer burdens need to be prayed not delayed.  Not forgotten.  Fourth:  Let our prayers simply be “talking to God.”  Every Christian, for example many times a day should stop and say, “Lord, I did wrong in that, forgive me.” Or “Lord, kelp me as to what to say, what to do.”  Connect prayer with the everyday details of our lives.  Stay connected with the Living God!

The things in our houses work because of an invisible power.  Electricity gives us visible power.  It turns on lights, microwave, TV.  But none of these work even though they all have access to electricity, unless they are turned on.  We need to engage the invisible power.  We need to make a connection with the power source.  Every born-again Christian has access to power but we need to connect with the power source, God, it’s called prayer.

 

David Johnson is minister of Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.

 




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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10