Ephesians

Ephesians 6:18 Praying in the Spirit

“PRAYING always (at all times) with all (kinds of) prayer and supplication IN THE SPIRIT.”

When to Pray? - it’s always right to pray.

How to Pray? - with all kinds of prayer.

Where to Pray? At all times we are to pray ‘in the Spirit.’ Whatever kind of prayer we pray, we are to pray it: ‘IN THE SPHERE of the SPIRIT’. This is whether we pray in tongues or English for we are to pray all kinds of prayer ‘in the Spirit’. Of course we should pray in tongues ‘in the Spirit’. Ephesians 6:18 says prayer ‘in the Spirit’ should be our normal and continual place of prayer.

Jude 20,21 agrees: “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith (receiving the Word) praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God (walk in love), looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” It is not a special kind of advanced praying only for elite intercessors or something that describes an unusual experience. We can all pray any kind of prayer in the Spirit at any time. 

What does ‘in the Spirit’ mean?  It is the opposite of: ‘in the flesh’, which is to pray merely from our own thoughts, our own strength, by rote etc. It means that by faith we move out of a purely natural arena into the Spirit. The key for this is TRUST or RELIANCE on the Holy-Spirit. To pray in the Spirit is to inwardly lean back on the Spirit, asking Him to pray through us. It is to INVITE HIS HELP, to call Him into our prayers to guide and empower us. 

Romans 8:26,27: “Likewise the Spirit also HELPS (‘takes hold together with us against’) our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” In ourselves, we are weak in knowledge of what to pray for and in the power to pray it, so the All-knowing, Almighty Spirit is sent to help us, to add His strength and wisdom to our prayers. If we will call upon and yield to His help, He will empower and direct our prayers. We are limited in knowing what to pray, so we must ask the Spirit to HELP us. ‘Help’ means He ‘takes hold together with us against’ our limitations in prayer. Thus He provides what’s missing, to overcome our weaknesses in prayer to remove obstacles and release God’s supply for the needs and situations we are praying about. This Spirit-directed prayer is according to God’s will and so produces effective results. 

Can we trust the Spirit to help us pray like this? Perhaps sometimes He will take hold with us, but sometimes not, for He is God. He will help us because He is acting under Jesus’ authority not ours and Jesus sent Him to be our Helper. This is His ministry to us: "I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you (in Jesus Christ) and will be in you.” (John 14:16,17). 

The Holy-Spirit lives in us. He is always there ready to help us. This is why we are commanded to pray always in the Spirit. It must be possible. It can’t be talking about a rare event. It is because He is constantly available as our Helper, to take hold of together with us in prayer. So before praying turn to the Holy Spirit who is in you and ask Him to help you pray. We must learn to put ourselves in the Spirit where He takes hold together with us in our prayers. The word translated ‘HELPER’ is ‘PARA-KLETOS’ (literally: ‘one called to come alongside to help’, one summoned to assist, to add His strength and wisdom to yours like your lawyer in Court). Hence other translations use ADVOCATE, STANDBY, and COMFORTER (‘Com-fort’ comes from Latin - one who comes alongside with strength, imparting His strength  and ability to you). Generally, ‘Helper’ carries the meaning of the word best. 

HELPERS act in a well-defined way.

(1) They only act when called upon to help. You must call upon your Helper by faith. The Holy-Spirit is a Gentleman - He does not force Himself upon you uninvited.

(2) Neither does a Helper do it by Himself, even if you ask Him to - He helps you to do it. He is here to HELP us not replace us. He does not pray instead of you, He prays with you and through you as you pray. He will not work with our passivity 
(we must pray) because that would override our free-will. It’s a cooperation. We do it, He adds His mighty help. “The communion (communication) of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2Cor 13:14). We are to cultivate our communion with the Spirit in us, where we call on His help and He communicates it to us.

What will He help us do?

1. Pray (Rom 8:26).

2. Bible Study (John 14:26,16:13,14). You must meditate and study the Word but as you do, ask the Spirit to teach you.

3. Witnessing (Acts 1:8, John 15:26,27; 16:7,8). The Spirit will witness as you speak helping and empowering your witness.

‘I lifted 10 Tonnes!’ How? ‘I had the sense to get IN a Fork-Lift Truck!’ I put myself into the sphere of a far greater power. IN myself, in my own strength, I could not acheive it but I had a powerful helper. Now without me it does nothing for it’s my Helper and is waiting upon me to call upon its help. By getting ‘in my car’, I can go faster, further and do more. ‘How did you do it? how do you get into it?’  ‘I do it on purpose, I know I have the right, so I got in, sat down, leaned back and allowed it to take hold of me and carry me along.” So in prayer we must realise the limits of our power and yield to His power. We keep final control because the car does not take me over completely. So in prayer we deliberately enter the sphere of the Spirit, lean back upon Him (He is in us ready to take hold of us and work together with us) trusting Him to guide and empower our prayers. 

To lift something heavy
: (1) We must know our limitations (infirmities). While we think we can do it by our own strength and knowledge we will not turn for help.

(2) We must know (believe) that a strong HELPER is at Hand. "It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7).

(3) We must call upon our Helper to help us pray. If you turn yourself over to His Help, to pray through you, to lead you in your prayer then He will (not because of you but because of Jesus who has commissioned and sent Him for this purpose). When you pray like this you are praying in the Spirit, depending on Him and He is energising your prayers.

Tongues
 is a great help in praying in the Spirit because you have to trust and lean back on Him relying on Him to give you the words. When you are Spirit-filled, He is continually ready to pray through you by giving you the utterance, but He does not take over your tongue and make you speak it out.

Acts 2:4: “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit (the Enabler) and (they - not the Spirit) began to speak with other tongues (languages they did not know), as the Spirit gave them utterance (the words).”

This is the blueprint verse for tongues and illustrates how the Spirit works as our Helper. It is a pattern for all praying in the Spirit (whether tongues or not). The Spirit was over them and filling them from within (they were in the sphere of the Spirit), they received empowerment (help) to speak but they had to speak, but because they were in the Spirit, they were praying the empowered words the Spirit was leading them to pray. It’s us and the Spirit working together. Most who have trouble with tongues do so because they don’t understand the principle upon which the Spirit works. We step out in faith to pray, and the Spirit adds His help, giving us the words. He waits on us to do something not the other way round, because in supreme humility He ministers to us as our Helper.

They were ‘all filled’ - the Spirit is available to help all believers pray and one 
way He does this is by tongues. I begin to speak in faith based on 1Corinthians 14:5: “I wish you all spoke with tongues.” Only when you open your mouth (by faith depending on His Help) and give voice, will He speak through you. As you speak in tongues you are trusting Him to help you, to give the next words which you speak out. You pray in tongues ‘in the Spirit’ if you are consciously trusting Him to give (empower, direct, form) the prayer (words). It’s possible to pray in tongues on ‘automatic pilot’ not trusting very deeply on the Spirit to form your prayers and so there’ll be less anointing on it.

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