Midweek Fellowship – May 18, 2016
“Praying in the Spirit”
Fr. Roberto M. Jorvina
More and more, I am beginning to realize what Jesus said in Mark 4 right after the Parable of the Sower and the Seed, “By the measure that you have, so shall it be measure to you.” In John1, God is willing to pour out His spirit without measure. He wants to just fill our lives with the fullness of His spirit. The reason why there are different manifestations or reactions of people during this time is because we come with different measures. As an example, when a mayor of a city announces that there will be free rice to be given and they are asked to bring their own containers, the amount of rice that will be given to them will depend upon the capacity of their containers.
This is the principle of the Kingdom. The reason we don’t experience the power of God is because we come every time with very little measure. This measure involves our attention or the way we worship and praise Him. Many times, the flow of the Spirit in our lives is hindered because we do not allow ourselves to yield to the Spirit of God.
In the years that I have been in ministry, I think that sometimes, it is to the degree of how we raise our hands or not raise our hands that we can see the power of God move in our lives. Why did the Bible say, “I want all men in all places to lift up holy hands?” Why will Moses’ enemy triumph when his arms are down and why would Moses have victory when his arms are raised? There must be a connection with the lifting up of our hands and the quality of victory that we walk in Christian life.
In many meetings, people are just seemingly apathetic to what is happening – their hands are just folded or their hands are inside their pockets. I am not to judge them because God only knows the intention of their hearts. Seemingly, there is the connection when we yield to God in our worship and praise to Him because the Bible says that worship is one that causes the binding of the enemy in chains. Included in praise are not just the words we speak, not just the presence of people worshipping, but our very lives in terms of the lifting of our hands and our uttering of praises unto God.
Let us not allow the mindsets of fear to quench the spirit of God. I do not say that it is necessarily true that when we raise our hands we are spiritual, but there must be some connection somehow, somewhere.
From last week, let us go back to Ephesians 6: 10 -12 where Paul concluded his wonderful epistle of the plan of God, the life of the Church, the life of the believer. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
There are two commands that were given here by St. Paul. The first command: be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. The battle is not about our strength or us mustering enough of our own strength. It is not about will power but God’s power. There is power and strength available from God to the believer. Another translation says, “Allow yourself to be continually strengthened by the power already made available to you in your life and relationship with Christ and to give you the strength you need to fight.” We are in a spiritual battle and we need to be strong in the strength of His might.
The second command is: put on the armor of God. This is the means of gaining strength to take on the resources, the provisions of God in our lives. It is the armor of God, not human armor. It is God’s provisions so that we actively win the battles because we have already won the war in Christ. Hold your ground and do not give the devil an opportunity.
Following the second command is a detailed list of the different weapons we have been given: the belt of truth; the breastplate of righteousness; the footwear of the preparation of the gospel of peace; the shield of faith; the helmet of salvation; and the sword of the Spirit.
Verse 18 says, “With all prayer and petition: pray at all times in the Spirit.” There is the call for vigilance. There is the call of the attitude of always being alert. Paul says, “Be alert at all times with perseverance and petitions for all the saints.” There is always this opportunity for the enemy to slip in in our lives and allow the things that will destroy. In spiritual battles, there must be a 24/7 alertness in our lives, a vigilance. With God’s strength and ability, we try our best to do what we can and to take on the full armor.
Praying in the Spirit is the linchpin that holds all the armor together. It is the key, that which is very essential, so that the armor of God will work for us. To pray in the Spirit is to pray with a sincere, genuine, and affectionate pouring out of the heart and soul to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord! It is praying through Christ, with the help of the Holy Spirit, who speaks to God in utterances that only He can understand. Without praying as such, prayer becomes just soundbytes. “Thank you for this food, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.” “Lord, bless my family. Lord, bless me today, Amen.” Prayer has just become words, sounds, and rhetorics without the power.
Praying in the Spirit is the means that we can tap to the power of God when we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us. In order to empower us to do the work of the Father, we need Divine energy. This is what the gift of the Holy Spirit is about. This is what praying in the Spirit means. 1 Corinthians 2:12 says, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God that we might know the things freely given to us by God.” Why are we not aware of the things of God?
When I was in the noontime prayer today, I just felt the altar expand to a big, voluminous size. It was like God saying to me, “I am here available for all of you. Whatever your need, I am able to meet; and yet, you have not taken advantage of it.” There is such a great power, but why are we not tapping to that power?
There has been much misunderstanding and controversy surrounding this topic of praying in the Spirit. I believe this is because of the tremendous potential energy that it can release into our lives. We have been kept from it in the dark or in fear, and many times, in ignorance. We don’t even know what spirit we are talking about, as in the Book of Acts says. We haven’t been baptized in that. In Romans 8:26-28, “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. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
They say that praying in the Spirit is the perfect prayer because we do not pray with our limited human understanding. We pray the will and the mind of the God. We are no longer trusting on our own ability. In Romans 8:26-28, we can understand what praying in the Spirit means. God's Holy Spirit intercedes for us; He guides us in our prayers; and He helps us in our weakness. Many times, we are governed by our feelings and our emotions when we pray. When we pray in the Spirit, we don’t know what the Spirit is praying. God's Holy Spirit guides us and He leads us in prayer. It can be done through speaking in tongues, but it can also be done through speaking our own language in a heartfelt, passionate cry to God. We do not know what we will be praying when we pray in the Spirit because God's Spirit takes charge. He knows our burdens and our needs and He knows as well God's will and what is best for us.
When we pray in the Spirit, certain things happen. One, we gain spiritual or supernatural understanding when we pray in the Spirit. What does this mean?
We begin to see things which we never saw before. 1 Corinthians 2:10: “But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.”
Last week, we looked at the example of Elisha against the people of Aram and the king was wondering who the spy was. The people said, “No one, Lord, it is Elisha. He knows the very things that you are doing in your bedroom.” How does Elisha know that other than by the Spirit of God? Elisha is a man; he is not omnipresent, but God is Omnipresent and He knows the deep things of men that guides them in their prayers.
In Ephesians 3:8-10: Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” God knows everything and He did not keep this from us people by giving the Holy Spirit that is working in our lives so that we will know how to handle our lives.
The Message Translation says, “I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities. And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!”
We gain a greater and broader insight in the reading of the Holy Scriptures. Many times, when we read the Scriptures, we can’t seem to understand its meaning. The Spirit of God will give us a greater and broader insight in reading it. John 6:63 says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.” Jesus Himself said, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”
We pray and speak directly to God. 1 Corinthians 14:2 says, “For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.”
Sometimes when we pray, many distractions come into our minds but we must remember that it is in the mind where the spiritual warfare is usually waged. Many times, we end up in prayer more burdened trying to analyze the situation with our human reasonings and understanding rather than trusting in God. Praying in the Spirit makes us pray directly to God without the intervention of our limited minds.
I remember back when we were planting churches here in the Philippines and abroad. We had, in the front part of the church, flags of the different countries where we have planted of a work for the kingdom of God. I was assigned then in Hong Kong at that time, but I was here in the Philippines trying to arrange our papers. Hong Kong government was very stringent with Filipino churches. They gave them a very hard time and for a reason because many Filipinos used religion as a cover up for securing a job in the crown colony. So it was a tough situation for us and it looked impossible for us to even be considered.
We had many prayer times during a given week, not to mention a monthly overnight intercession every Friday night, and in one prayer time, I felt led to go up the stage area where the flags of the nations were. I took the Hong Kong flag and walked around it seven times just like in the book of Joshua when Israel walked around Jericho. I praised and prayed in the Spirit and began to confess victory. I looked stupid and senseless dancing and all, but it worked! It did not take long when our Pastor called me into his office and shared the good news that our papers have been approved and so was for the application of a resident pastor to stay there.
The second thing that happens when we pray in the Spirit is: we are empowered and strengthened. In Jude 20, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit.” Jesus warned His disciples of the impending conflict they will face, which we are also facing now. Yet in that same passage, despite of the impending conflict, He also assured us of the victory that He has and that we, too, also enjoy over the world.
We have learned last week of the spiritual warfare we are in. Just this week, I was praying in our bedroom and I think I fell asleep. It was more like a trance. In that condition, I saw myself in a room with this creepy looking elderly man. It was so vivid. The man’s face was so clear. I could see the sinister look in his eyes. I passed by him, walked toward a door that suddenly closed in front of me. Fear gripped me as I waited for the door to open again. Then, this scary, eerie man was transformed into a nice, amiable, pleasant man. He held out his hand to take my hand. As he did, his grip began to tighten, and when I looked back at him, he has again turned into that scary odd creature. I could feel his nails pierce through my palms. It seemed so real, and I woke up panicky. I felt paralyzed, unable to move. All I remember was the word “Jesus” which I uttered. As soon as I said that, an overwhelming peace came upon me and I began to pray in the Spirit.
There were other similar times when I could just get loose in my prayer language, praying in the spirit. Or in other times, when I am being choked and I could not speak, I remember making the sign of the cross. These are weapons God has given to us against the fiery furnace of the enemy.
The devil does not play fair. He preys on weak, naïve, inexperienced Christians who are clueless when temptation knocks on the door of their life. Are they able to identify Satan’s attempt to rob them of their salvation? Here is where the Holy Spirit not only helps us to identify the enemy, but He also strengthens us in our battle against uneven odds, if we let Him. We don’t see him, though he may see us. How do you handle the intrusion of doubts that enter your thoughts? How do you handle thoughts and doubts that God doesn’t care for you or God doesn’t love you anymore? Doubts that there may not even be a God? When all of these things take place in our minds, the Helper is our rescuer!
When we pray in the Spirit, He brings to our remembrance things where we have experienced in God’s presence and care. (John 14:26) He enlightens our minds to recall times when we would have drown in our despair, but found His hand reaching down to pull us out of distress. Because of the lack of teaching and preaching about the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit and the provisions of praying in the Spirit, we are poorer spiritually and in our efforts to live the Christian life, we struggle as if the battle is ours alone. No! Jesus sends the Helper and we need to remember daily that the Holy Spirit has this name and identity. He is the HELPER!
In conclusion, praying in the Spirit is the Holy Spirit led prayer. It can be done in a heavenly language that is a gift of the Holy Spirit or it can be done in a deep, passionate, sincere groaning as described in Romans 8 that cannot be expressed in words.
You can begin by waiting upon the Lord and telling Him, in pure humility and sincerity, how cold and prayerless your hearts has become, and ask Him to send His Holy Spirit to warm your heart and draw you into prayer. He will not force Himself to you. You have to humble yourselves and ask Him. You can begin singing praise songs to God and worshipping out loud which will also invite God's Spirit. It will not be long before you are filled with God's presence and that you will have a desire to pray with vigor.
God's Holy Spirit has come into you and has stirred your heart into action. You will not want to stop praying as you will be aware that you are in direct communication with your Heavenly Father. You will start to pray for the right things in the right way. There will be joy and power in your prayer. You will feel God's Spirit guide you in your prayers. He will be your guide in your prayers.