These are my notes from a sermon series I did. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
Having a conversation with God is unlike any other conversation you will have with anyone else. There are some similarities, but there are some unique differences as well. One of the unique differences in talking to God and interceding for others is praying in the Spirit. What does that mean? Why is it important? How do you do it? To get us started let’s take a look at two statements from God’s Word.
- Ephesians 6:18 says, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere” (NLT). Praying in the Spirit is so significant that God wants you to pray this way all the time and on every occasion you find yourself praying. In addition, this statement is at the end of the section where we are given the believer’s spiritual armor for spiritual warfare. Praying in the Spirit is significant for experiencing victory in the supernatural.
- Jude 20 says this, “But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love” (NLT). While waiting for Jesus’ return and to help build others up in their walk with God we are to pray in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Explaining what praying in the Spirit is, is like trying to explain what being in love means. There are many layers and aspects to this. But let me give you three statement that will give you a great start at understanding what praying in the Spirit means and how to experience it on a regular basis.
Praying in the Spirit is praying in agreement with the Holy Spirit
Number one, praying in the Spirit is praying in agreement with the Holy Spirit. It was God’s Spirit that gave us God’s Word. It was the Holy Spirit that divinely led people to give us what we call The Bible. Look closely at 2 Peter 1:20, “Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, 21 or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God” (NLT). You need to know that it was the Holy Spirit that “moved” specific individuals to write down what God wanted us to have in the Scriptures. This was a supernatural event and every detail of God’s Word was important. This word “moved” was used to describe a sail boat on the water and the wind filling up its sails and moving it a certain direction. That is what the Spirit of God did in the lives of certain individuals so that we would have exactly what God wanted us to have when it came to His Word.
Now look at Ephesians 6:17 which says, “Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion” (NLT). The Holy Spirit moved people to give us the Word of God and the Word of God is a weapon that the Holy Spirit wants to use in your life. One of the ways you utilize the sword of the Spirit is to pray in the Spirit. And praying in the Spirit is praying in agreement with the Sword of the Spirit. You are praying the Word of God over that person. You are lifting your need or situation up in way that agrees with God’s Word, rather than contradicts it.
Praying in agreement with the Spirit is praying in agreement with God’s Word. The Holy Spirit is never going to contradict God’s Word, never going to go against God’s Word, never going to lead you to disobey God’s Word. Praying in the Spirit is praying in agreement with God’s Word. So let’s take a practical look at how this may be expressed in your life.
Let’s take a look at what someone prayed about in the Bible. Paul wrote a letter to the Colossian believers and in it he told them what he was praying for regarding them. In Colossians 1:9 he writes this, “So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. 11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins” (Col. 1:9-14, NLT). If you were to take Colossians 1 and apply it over someone’s life then you would be praying in agreement with God’s Word.
- You would be asking God to give that person “complete knowledge” of God’s will.
- You are asking God to give them “spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
- You are asking God to “strengthen” them “with all his glorious power” so they will not give up and be patient while God is working in their life and in their circumstances.
- You are asking God to filled them “with joy.”
Praying like that is praying in the Spirit because you are praying in agreement with the sword of the Spirit. A prayer like that is a weapon against ignorance, foolishness, weakness, impatience, and discouragement. If you want to pray in the Spirit, then pray God’s Word over the person or situation.
Praying in the Spirit is praying with the assistance of the Holy Spirit
Number two, praying in the Spirit is praying with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will guide your thoughts and heart about what to pray for. He will assist you in how to pray for a situation or a person. You may sense that you need to pray for encouragement for someone or wisdom for that person. As you pray, the Spirit may speak to your heart about becoming an answer to prayer for that person by blessing them in some way. The Spirit will assist you as you pray.
Look closely at Romans 8:26, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers[l] in harmony with God’s own will” (vs. 26-27, NLT). Let’s take a look at some observations.
- We are told the “Holy Spirit helps us” (helps: sunantilambanomai). The word “help” means to come along side and carry a burden. The word “help” does not mean to carry all the burden, but some of the burden… to lighten the load. It would be similar to two men carrying a large log. One on each end, carry their part of the load. Listen carefully, the Holy Spirit is not going to do what you can and should do, but what you cannot do but should do the Holy Spirit will do. He will “help” you by coming along side you and to carry the burden along your journey. He doesn’t remove the burden, He helps you to carry it.
- Then we are given one example of how the Holy Spirit does this and it’s in our prayer life. We are told, “For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us….” The situation has gotten to a point that you don’t know how to pray for it anymore, you don’t know what to pray, how to pray, or when to pray. You don’t know how to pray for your marriage anymore… is it over? You don’t know how to pray anymore for your child who has wondered away from God… will they ever return? You’ve been praying for a long time. You have been persistent. You have been dedicated. You have grown weary. You don’t know if you can keep praying the way you have. You are beginning to lose hope. Then something strange happens, the Holy Spirit joins you in your prayers. He begins to pray for you to help you carry this burden of prayer for this thing that is on your heart. “For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy prays for us….”
I don’t understand everything that is being said there, but I do know one thing for certain. When I don’t know what to pray for or how to pray, the Holy Spirit takes over in some way and prays for me. He assist me and that is part of praying in the Spirit.
Praying in the Spirit is praying in the authority of the Holy Spirit
Number three, praying in the Spirit is praying in the authority of the Holy Spirit. The way you pray in the authority of the Holy Spirit is to place yourself under the authority of the Holy Spirit.
Look closely at Galatians 5:16 which says, “I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh” (CSB). Walking by the Spirit is living by the Spirit. Walking by the Spirit is placing yourself under the authority of the Holy Spirit, including your prayer life.
Look at Romans 8:3 which says, “He condemned sin in the flesh by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin offering, 4 in order that the law’s requirement would be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit” (CSB). When you are living according to the Spirit… when you are living under the authority of the Spirit you are going to pray about the things the Spirit is concerned about. When you are praying in the authority of the Holy Spirit you are opening the door for the Holy Spirit to bring His power into the situation. You are praying as a representative of the Holy Spirit and as a representative you are praying in the authority and power of the Spirit. The way you pray in the authority of the Holy Spirit is to place yourself under the authority of the Holy Spirit. When you are living by the Spirit you will be praying in the Spirit. You will be praying in agreement with the Spirit and with the assistance of the Spirit.
Praying in the Spirit is praying in agreement with the Spirit, with assistance by the Spirit, and in the authority of the Holy Spirit. Praying in the Spirit is being sensitive to what the Spirit wants to accomplish through your prayers.
Let me give you a spiritual growth assignment this week:
- Use Colossians 1 as your prayer guide for those you pray for this week.
- Ask yourself, as I pray am I under the authority of the Holy Spirit? Am I willing to do whatever He tells me to do?