Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 6. Experiencing the power of the cross . No 15:- Dead to Satan (Part 11) Praying in the Spirit 3

. No 15:- Dead to Satan (Part 11) Praying in the Spirit 3

PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT

 

We spent two Sundays a few weeks ago looking at the issue of prayer as part of our spiritual warfare. We looked at all the ‘all and alls’ so far, which is to pray at all time, with all kinds of prayers, while being watchful with all perseverance and praying for all the saints.

Now the purpose of these sermons is not to discourage you in your prayers but to encourage you to pray. In my last sermon I taught you a very simple word that should be part of our prayer lives and it is the word ‘that’. It implies ‘that’ there is purpose in prayer, but at the same time it is the same little word that calls for logic to follow afterwards. For example. You face a tough situation and you can ask the Lord to give you strength in the situation.

Now it is fine to pray that way, and do not be discouraged if you do, but add the little word ‘that’ to the sentence, and suddenly your situation becomes alive as you now have to answer your own reason for asking for strength. Now your prayer might become something like this. Lord I pray for strength in my tough situation, so ‘that’ I may glorify you, or ‘that’ I may discern, ‘that’ I may accept, ‘that’ I may speak wise words, ‘that’ I may not get angry and filled with bitterness or ‘that’ I may love in spite of.

Let me give you a kind of definition for prayer when we pray this way. I believe that prayer is communication by a spiritual person, with a God who is Spirit, for spiritual reasons to accomplish spiritual purposes as we seek to live spiritual lives. Prayer, is not spiritual when it is simply ‘Lord I misplaced my wallet again and you must help me find it’, or ‘I am late for work and the Lord must clear the traffic before me’, or ‘Lord I did not get time to study for the exams as I watched too much TV, so help me pass’. A good friend of mine in school days turned atheist because God failed to help him pass his maths, and he still walks without the Lord today. But friend, his prayer was unspiritual, he was unspiritual and he prayed for unspiritual reasons, and he had a wrong understanding of God.

So what I want to see more and more at Logos is participation in prayer, a joy to pray, even if we do it wrong. We have all been so indoctrinated by the traditions of prayers and the mistakes made by other believers that we are bound to make mistakes ourselves, so that’s fine. But, let’s grow in our prayer lives and let’s learn even through our mistakes. Remember again, that prayer is communication based on a living relationship with the living God and it has to be logical. Let me explain, if either of my daughters asked me for a Ferrari by using the following words, ‘dear daddy, please bless me with a nice brand new red Ferrari, ‘that’ I may show off in front of my friend, daddy I know you love me and want to bless me as I am your child, and I ask it for your great name’s sake.’ Now is that a logical prayer? They will never pray it as they know the answer to that prayer even before they have asked. So this is what I want you to learn, which is simple, and that is to pray all the time, all kinds of prayer, while being alert and praying with all perseverance and praying for all the saints, but just make sure you are doing it right. I will give you an example of such a prayer at the end of the sermon.

Back to Ephesians 6. Paul has more to say about prayer than what we saw with the ‘all’ statements, and it is that we must ‘always pray in the Spirit’. Ephesians 6:18 (ESV) “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,”

What is meant with praying at all times in the Spirit?

This idea is a very common concept in the New Testament, and is very critical for New Testament praying, as we live by the Spirit, we keep in step with the Spirit and we fellowship with the Spirit. It means that all of the ‘alls’ regarding prayer occurs in the Spirit. All the variety of prayer, all the times of prayer, all of the things that cause us to persevere and pray, and all the saints for whom we pray, all our praying needs to be in the Spirit The text is clear, praying is always in the Spirit, or to put it in the opposite, praying should never be apart from the Spirit.

Let me just immediately say that it has nothing to do with tongues. For years Charismatics and Pentecostals have told us it means speaking in tongues. It doesn’t mean that at all. That is never a biblical description of praying in the Spirit. It has nothing to do with some ecstatic language. It has nothing to do with some kind of gibberish which can’t be discerned. If this were true, well, then the implication is that all your prayers must be in tongues, as Paul is clear, that all times with all prayer and all perseverance for all the saints is in the Spirit. Paul knew what tongues were, he said enough about it and if that is what he meant, he would have told you.

If you want to know what I believe on tongues, there is a whole series on our website.

Now, as I said, praying in the Spirit is not uncommon to the New Testament, and it is the only way you can pray according to Paul here is Ephesians 6:18.

Jude puts it this way in verse 20 (ESV) But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,” so if you want to grow and be strong and be triumphant, you need to pray in the Holy Spirit. All prayer must be in the Spirit.

So what does it mean? I believe what it simply means to pray in harmony with the Holy Spirit. We must pray consistently with the mind and will of the Spirit. It is the same as the statement ‘whatever you ask in my name, or according to my will.’  A clear understanding of the meaning of this we find in Romans 8:26 (ESV) “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

That is one of the most encouraging sections in the entire Bible. Here we are, we’re believers and He’s talking about us. He is saying we need help because we don’t even always know what to pray for, or how to pray. There are things we cannot figure out and things we cannot anticipate. There are things that are too complicated for us to know which direction to direct our prayers. We don’t always know what to pray for or how to pray. So, “the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words,” why? Because Romans 8:27 (ESV) says that …He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.Would you believe this that the Spirit knows how to pray for you? I love this. The Father knows what you need, and the Spirit prays in perfect harmony with the will of the Father. He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. My friend if that were not true, our lives would be in a mess. So there are things regarding the will of the Father that you do not even know or understand, and yet the Spirit even takes care of that.

But in Ephesians 6 I believe what Paul is dealing with is that which we know to be the will of the Father as it has been revealed to us. So when you’re praying in the Spirit, it is simply praying consistently with the mind of the Spirit and according to the revealed will of God. We don’t always know exactly what that is as we only know in part, but we know a lot about what that is because God has disclosed His will in Scripture. Praying in the Spirit simply means praying in perfect harmony and perfect accord with the mind of the Spirit of God and the will of God as revealed in Scripture.

I think this is kind of prayer that James has in mind when he says in James 4:1-7 (ESV) “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? Let me summarise this whole section in three words; “get in line”.  Get in line with what? Very simple, with the will of God and the Spirit of God and you will see more answered prayers.

There are things we know, because we are children of God, and because the Spirit indwells us and because the Spirit has revealed it to us, and when we pray in harmony with that, the Christian life becomes a blast.  Look at 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 (ESV) 9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.”

You can pray till you are blue in the face to get rich or to have my good looks (humour intended). Your prayers will not be answered as neither is ever revealed as the will of God and would not be in line with the Spirit of God.

You want to get rich? Then work hard, work smart, work sharp and thank God for all the graces you have to be able to do that. You want to be as good looking as me? Tough luck, suffer, you have your own skin. Prayer will never improve you. There are so many things that we ask for and beg for and we think prayer is a magic wand by which we will get whatever we ask. Now I know that we can maybe draw that conclusion from John 15:16 (ESV) 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” Christian, there are just certain things you cannot ask the Father in the name of Christ. This by the way does not mean that you simply attach the name of Jesus, it means that you pray according to His will.

No my friend, we have to pray in line with the will of God and in the Spirit who prays for us in perfect harmony with the will of the Father and we need to make sure we line up with our prayers consistent with the Spirit. So what can we ask in the name of Jesus? We need to pray for things we know God wills, our virtue, our holiness, our strength, our spiritual maturity, our usefulness, our service, a deepening of our love for Christ. Those are the things the Spirit prays for that God agrees with and our prayers need to be consistent with that.

It is so easy to pray outside the will of the Father. Remember the story of Job. Who initiated Satan’s activity in Jobs life? It was God, wasn’t it? We saw it in the beginning in Job 1& 2. You also see it at the end in Job 42:10-11 (ESV) 10 And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11 Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold.” One of our problems is that we sometimes think that it can never be the will of God to permit evil over you. We think that evil is always from Satan, and we forget that God actually created Satan. So just think if you were one of these Christians that believe you can bind Satan and succeed in that, let’s just say it could work for a moment. Now, you bind Satan. What is the end effect of that? You are praying against what God is accomplishing in Job’s life, even though He accomplishes it through Satan. And you do not want to do that, do you?  God sometimes has glorious things in store for us, even in our trials and we will never understand that by ourselves, but praise God, the Holy Spirit knows exactly the will of God in the situation, and He prays for us in words that you and I cannot even utter and His prayers are always spot on.

Often one of the most overlooked ministries of the Holy Spirit is that He is the One who prays for us. Yes, Jesus, our great High Priest intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father, but the Holy Spirit with whom we have fellowship all day, prays for us. So learn to line up your prayers, get past the trivial, past the mundane, past the superficial and learn to line up your prayers with what you know to be the will of God and the desire of the Holy Spirit.

Let me tell you what makes a difference in my own heart. When I feel I am becoming too consumed with the things of this world I would simply start praying, ‘Lord fill my life up with love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control’. Is that not what a Spirit controlled life is about in any case? I believe if we become more and more focussed upon the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, then the will of the Father by His Spirit will become clearer and clearer. Often our desires are more in line with the desires and works of the flesh, and that will affect the way we pray. At least that is what James taught us earlier in this sermon.

I love Galatians 4:6 (ESV) “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” It fits with Romans 8:15 (ESV) doesn’t it? “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Now that is an amazing statement in these two sections. Because you are a son, God has placed His Holy Spirit in you and from within you, the Spirit on your behalf is crying Abba, Father. In other words, the Spirit is interpreting what it means to be an intimate child of God for you. He is pleading for those things that belong to you because God is your Daddy, your most intimate Pappa. This is Spirit-driven, Spirit-directed prayer. So He cries Abba Father on your behalf, and then according to Romans 8 we cry Abba Father by the Spirit or in harmony with the Spirit.

Early in my sermon I promised that I will end the sermon with a section of Scripture that illustrates what praying in the Spirit is all about. Look at Acts 4:23-31 (ESV) 23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’— 27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to (or that they may) continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness."

I do not want to spend time on this, but a few short comments. The church here is under threat, Peter and John are told by the authorities that they may not preach the Word of God. They report it to their people and they immediately turn to praying in the Spirit. Firstly they acknowledge who God is, which is spiritual. Secondly, they remind God what He did in the past, which is spiritual and indicates the revealed will of God, as He did it before. Thirdly, they acknowledge the absolute will of God in verse 28 by declaring 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.’ Fourthly, they acknowledged the threat which is real, and asked that God will simply enable them to do that which God had in any case commanded, namely speaking His Word with boldness. Now, look at the glorious result. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and they did that which God commanded them to do in the first place. This is spiritual praying, nothing of ‘Lord please take down the authority’, ‘keep us safe’, ‘be with us’ etc. No, they knew the will of God for their lives and prayed accordingly.

Oh, may the Spirit Himself teach us to pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication, keeping alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.

Amen!

Logos Community Church: - 14 July 2013