by   Robert Brow (    Kingston, Ontario   
February 2008

We know how to pray to God as Father. But we wonder what Paul meant
when he wrote :"Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and
supplication" (Ephesians 6:18). The words "at all times in every
prayer" indicate the importance of this for our prayer life.

Paul did not need to explain. He took it for granted that the
Ephesians knew how to pray in the Spirit. This was because the first
evidence of Christian faith was an experience of the Holy Spirit (Acts
2:38; 10:44; 11:15-17; 19:2; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11; Galatians 6:1;
Ephesians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:5). Often before they knew how to
pray in the Spirit they spoke in tongues. But Paul expected them to
learn to pray in ordinary rational language (1 Corinthians 14:13-19).

Also the first lesson that the new believers received was that the
Father was God, Jesus the Son was God, and the Holy Spirit was also
God. This was easy to understand because God is love, and you cannot
love alone. So we know that from eternity  God is three Persons
held together in the oneness of perfect love. The functions of the
three Persons is different. The Father tenderly cares for us, the Son
came into our world , died on the cross, rose again, and reigns as
King of kings and Lord of lords.

The Spirit inspires us with supernatural wisdom and empowers us to
live holy lives free from the bondage of the law. He also enables us
to pray. This is why Paul wrote: "Pray in the Spirit at all times in
every prayer and supplication." Prayer in the Spirit is the opposite
of prayer in the flesh.  As Paul explained, "I am of the flesh"
(Romans 7:14) and "I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is
in my flesh" (Romans 7:14, 18). Here flesh means our natural instincts
and abilities. They are not in themselves bad for ordinary life
functions, but they do not desire the perfection of love which God
desires for us.

Similarly our natural instincts, feelings and abilities do not help us
to pray in the Spirit.

How then do we enter into this kind of prayer? Instead of coming to
pray with our own agendas and ideas of how the prayer must be
answered, we open ourselves to what the Spirit has in mind.

When I pray for healing for myself or another, I must put aside my own
ideas as to the time frame and how the healing is to proceed. I can
then open myself to the Spirit to see how he plans to work things out.

Sometimes I do not even know what I am praying for. "The Spirit helps
us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but
that very Spirit intercedes with sighs (groaning) too deep for words"
(Romans 8:26). Better be silent and let the Spirit pray from the
depths of his heart.

Often the Spirit will give us a passage of Scripture to clarify our
mind in prayer. This is why Paul wrote "Take the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every
prayer and supplication" (Ephesians 6:17-18).

Robert Brow



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