Midweek Fellowship – May 25, 2016
“Praying in the Spirit”
Fr. Roberto M. Jorvina
We are on our fifth month of this teaching on prayer. Hopefully, we are closer to the understanding of prayer in our lives. Being here every Wednesday night is good, but being here and applying what you have learned is even better. This is what will bring us into an increasing and progressing life as a Christian. Only when we begin to do what we learn do we realize the fullness and the beauty of things that we are leaning. Continue to allow the spirit of God to help us bring understanding to this awesome, broad and ever so powerful message of the very life of God in us as we understand more and more of His ways.
This is the second of the series about Praying in the Spirit, and last week, we said that 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 through Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit who speaks to God in utterances that only He can understand. For without praying as such, prayer is just sound bytes. It is just an exercise that of empty words. Many times, we fall into that category. We just pray, “Lord, help me today. Thank you, Lord, Amen.” It is just a casual, common prayer. It is not for us to judge the hearts because only God can, but many times, we go through the motions without the necessary participation of faith which is very important in any prayer.
Praying in the Spirit is the linchpin that holds together the spiritual armor which God has provided for the believer. It is the outfit that protects the child of God against the attacks of the spiritual forces that attempts to destroy his life. There is a cruel, demonic world that will try to shipwreck our faith. There is a host of demons that will try to deceive us. Peter said, “Satan is like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” Jesus has rendered him powerless. All demonic forces have been trampled upon at the grave of Christ and His resurrection from that grave. However, their ability to influence us doesn’t stop there. It is up to us to allow them or not. We have this gift from the Holy Spirit of God in order that we can have this armor.
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.” Do we know what the things we have from God? Do we know the hope to which we have been called? Do we know the riches of the glorious inheritance of the saints? Do we know how broad, how deep and wide and high the grace of God is? If we only know, temptation will not be a problem. Poverty will not be a problem. Corrupt government will not be a problem. The ill effects of drugs will not be a problem.
Christians, for so long, have been deceived to think that we are just victims and we have nothing in our grasp. The work of the Holy Spirit is to call and equip us to participate in Jesus’ perfect humanity. To be human is not to be weak. We have always the excuse that we are just human and we are weak. We say, “The spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak.” Yes, the flesh is weak because it is without the breath of God that makes it weak. With the spirit of God, the dry bones will come to life. With the spirit of God, dust will become a man that can make computers that can fashion space shuttles to go to the moon. It can make a man that can split the atom and do things which no other creature can do. Why is this? This is because that dust is empowered by the spirit of God. To be human is to partake in God’s masterpiece – a creation who bears the image of God because He created a human being with His spirit breathed unto him.
One of the first actions of Jesus when He met the apostles on the day of His resurrection was, “Receive the Holy Spirit and He breathed on them the Spirit.” He said, “Whatever you allow on earth will be allowed in heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven.” This is the power that we all have, but we have missed it because we have not understood it.
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.”
Prior to these verses, St Paul was talking about the longing of all creation for the revelation of the sons of God. We have chaos and confusion in the world today is because creation is crying out, “Sons of God, where are you? You are supposed to be in-charge of this earth? You are supposed to forbid sickness, poverty and evil. You have that authority! Where are you?” While this is being longed for, man, who is supposed to conquer weaknesses and limitations, by his own doing, has fallen prey to these limitations. By his own disobedience, he has put all of these upon himself. Do not blame God for our problems and our sins because there is such a gift of free will. We are where we are today because of free will. Why is there poverty? Why are there victims of injustice? It is because of man’s own choice to relegate God to the sidelines and to take life by himself. This is why the flesh is weak, but the flesh empowered by the spirit of God can do great exploits in life.
The Holy Spirit comes to help us in these limitations. He comes so that we gain spiritual (SUPERNATURAL) understanding. From this, we begin to see things which we never saw before. We gain a greater and broader insight in the reading of the Holy Scriptures. We pray and speak directly to God. Not only do we have spiritual understanding, but we also are empowered and strengthened.
There has been much misunderstanding and controversy surrounding this topic. I believe that this is because of the tremendous potential and ability that is hidden. This is the mystery of godliness. It is hidden for ages past, but has now been revealed to the saints in light. It can be released into our lives. We have been kept in the dark or for maybe for some, even in fear about this.
In Acts, we see a connection between the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the speaking in tongues. Why would God, on a very important and special day we now call Pentecost, of all the gifts that is available to the believer, take the gift of speaking in tongues as the one God gave the disciples? There must be something very important and special about this gift? Why not the gift of miracles or prophesy or even wisdom? There must be something vital about this gift. Our very Lord Himself says in Mark 16:17, “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak in new tongues.” Why would this be the one of the first in Jesus’ enumeration of the signs that would follow the believer? If you are believer, it will follow and accompany you to speak in tongues.
In Acts 10:46, “The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.” This is shocking because for a Jew, a Gentile cannot have the spirit of God because the evidence of the Spirit was the speaking in tongues.
In Acts 19:6, “While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.”
1 Corinthians 14:2, “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.” Jude 20-21, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.”
We are to build up. We cannot survive a day without food, water and exercise for us to have strong bodies to combat the things that will harm our bodies. In the same manner, we have the spiritual abilities, one of which is the praying of Spirit, to build our spiritual bodies up. This is Holy Spirit empowerment so that we can be witnesses of God!
It was morning in April last year, having just had my morning exercise, I was walking my home. A person from our neighborhood came up to me, “Father, there is a woman giving birth over there.” Going further toward the direction shown to me, I saw the woman, the “taong grasa,” who, together with her children, wandered in our neighborhood with their cariton. She laid on the sidewalk pavement, her small child crying beside her, a few women huddled around her, and her new borne baby slowly coming out of her birth canal. The women looked to me, as if to ask, “What do we do now, Father?” Yeah, right, it was as if I was a doctor who had a long experience in child birth. I began to pray in the Spirit, “What now, Lord?”
I was not in a nice hospital but in a sidewalk. I could see all the body fluids and I could smell the stench and all the people were ogling at the situation. With the look at the mother’s face and the crying child beside her, my mind was racing, “What do I do Lord? Help me Lord!” I began to pray in the Spirit. As the baby came out, the umbilical cord was still attached to both child and mother. Still praying in tongues, I lay hands on the mother and on the child praying for them. Actually, it was more for me perhaps because they were waiting for instructions from me on what is to be done. I gave instructions to a woman who was trying to assist to just rub the mother’s abdominal area and to another woman to try to let the baby cry. I stood up and ran home to get my cell phone and called Sis Chato. Talking to her and getting instructions, she began to outline the things that I can do, some of which I had already instructed the women to do. Where did I get this wisdom? Was it from my Mechanical Engineering course? No! I got it from the Holy Spirit.
We finally got transportation so that we could bring the mother to the nearest hospital. Very gingerly, we lifted up mother and baby together. I remembered the scene in a wedding rite where the couple had to move with the cord around them. More help came and the woman and child eventually got the medical attention they needed. Today, almost a year later, the baby is a nice looking child. The family still has their cariton moving from one place to another. The baby is alive and I am not going to get credit for anything. It was the Spirit of God that moved.
Praying in the Spirit gives us the wisdom necessary during times when we know not what to do or what to say.
I found it so beneficial when I had my first pastoral assignment in San Pablo City. As a 25 year old young electrical engineer, I did not really understand what I was getting into. I had taken up CTC, but that was it. Nothing formally prepared me for what I was to face. During that time, aside from the service on Sundays and Wednesdays, our San Pablo church had outreaches in the barrios. One particular barrio, San Marcos called Tikiw where there were reports of demonic possession. It was a nice backdrop for a suspense thriller movie. They asked me to minister to two young people who seemed to be speaking to each other even though they were several houses apart. What do you do when you see one of them foaming in the mouth? What did I learn from our Church elders then? How do I, an inexperience, raw, untried pastor, counsel men and women much older than me about life and relationships? How do I go about ministering to demon-possessed? How will I teach the choir ministry new songs? How will I preside over the board of elders meeting and talk to them about church organization and the Church was just starting? How? It is the Holy Spirit that helps us in our weakness and the Holy Spirit prays for us with groaning too deep for words. This was the only equipment I knew at that time.
When we pray in the Spirit, He brings to our remembrance things where we have experienced God’s presence and care. (John 14:26) He enlightens our minds to recall times which we have forgotten; times when God was there; time when God spoke to us; times when God was faithful to supply our needs. Because of the lack of teaching of this gift and the preaching about the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit and the provision of praying in the Spirit, we are the poorer, and in our effort 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 called the HELPER!