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Praying in the Spirit

The Armor of God  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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When we realize how fully present God is with us through His Holy Spirit, our prayers can take on a new dimension of power and effectiveness.

Notes & Transcripts
As we end our series on “The Armor of God”, let’s review our them verse one last time. It is found in
Ephesians 6:12 NLT
12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Remember, everything that we have talked about during this series refers to our warfare against the evil unseen powers and not fellow human beings!
Let’s take a look at our passage this morning and pay close attention to verse 18 of :
Ephesians 6:13–18 NLT
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 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. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
Introduction: Today we arrive at the culmination of Paul’s teaching on the armor of God. He calls on his spiritual warrior friends to pray in the Spirit. Now praying in the spirit is not presented as part of the armor of God, but it is certainly one of the keys to victory in the battlefield! A believer who has accepted the armor of God but does not pray, is like a person who is all dressed up with no place to go. Nice armor, but what difference are we really making without prayer?
Introduction: Today we arrive at the culmination of Paul’s teaching on the armor of God. He calls on his spiritual warrior friends to pray in the Spirit. Now praying in the spirit is not presented as part of the armor of God, but it is certainly one of the keys to victory in the battlefield! A believer who has accepted the armor of God but does not pray, is like a person who is all dressed up with no place to go. Nice armor, but what difference are we really making without prayer?
Prayer is so essential! Your relationship with God, your spiritual walk, your Christian experience, will never rise higher than your prayer life. Prayer is often misunderstood. Prayer has to do with understanding how to be in God’s presence- how to be around God. Prayer is about learning to become God’s friend. In the presence of God, we learn to embrace things that we are normally uncomfortable with: silence, solitude, and our own thoughts. Prayer helps us connect with the deep heart of God and it reveals the depths of our own hearts. It makes us conscious of our need before God and reveals to us that God is and has what we need. Prayer brings us to a place of receiving from God what we could never obtain any other way. Prayer is less about words and more about presence, both my presence with God and his presence with me. It is about me being fully present with God, as I begin to sense that He is fully present with me. Have you ever talked to somebody who seemed to be somewhere else? Have you ever been that somebody? How did that work out for you?
So today as we talk about praying in the Spirit, let’s try to keep in mind that it is in the context of relationship and communication – not about going through the motions or doing some sort of spiritual gymnastics. Here is where we are going today:
Prop: When we realize how fully present God is with us through His Holy Spirit, our prayers can take on a new dimension of power and effectiveness.
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Transition: I’d like to examine a few thoughts from that will help us learn to better live in the Spirit and pray in the Spirit.
Prayer is of such importance that Paul uses words like “all” and “always” to describe our use of it. Regardless of what the occasion is, Paul says to pray in the Spirit. One way of looking at this is to realize that any prayer that is not prayed in the Spirit is a lifeless prayer. So just because you are praying over a meal or saying your bedtime prayers (both being based on routines), don’t pray a lifeless prayer.
Prayer is of such importance that Paul uses words like “all” and “always” to describe our use of it. Regardless of what the occasion is, Paul says to pray in the Spirit. One way of looking at this is to realize that any prayer that is not prayed in the Spirit is a lifeless prayer. So just because you are praying over a meal or saying your bedtime prayers (both being based on routines), don’t pray a lifeless prayer.
Realize that God is fully present with you. Give Him the courtesy of being fully present with Him. I almost hate to say it that way because God doesn’t want your courtesy – He wants your heart! He isn’t out to make you mind your manners, He is fully present to transform your entire life – if you’ll let Him.
Each of us receives on average about 50,000-60,000 messages per day. Most of these messages are silent thoughts you consciously entertain daily from within - it is called self- talk. How is it that we can speak to ourselves 50,000 messages daily - as busy as we are - yet cannot find opportunity to talk to God? Prayer is just like self-talk except that it is focused on the Lord. You are talking to the Lord rather than to yourself. Our lives would be a whole lot better and more blessed if we talked to God a lot more often than talking to ourselves. Self-talk can easily become imbalanced either with pride or with negativity. We need self-talk, but we need God-talk even more!
“The childish idea that prayer is a handle by which we can take hold of God and obtain whatever we desire, leads to easy disillusionment with both what we had thought to be God and what we had thought to be prayer” (Robert Short). Prayer is not something we possess to control or manipulate God into giving us what we want. Prayer is coming to God in humility, asking for the help He has already promised to give us. Prayer helps us align our hearts and minds with Him.
After you have received the truth about God and have turned away from sin, and you put your trust in Jesus to make you right before God, you find yourself in a place you’ve never been before – in God’s favor! God has begun to change your mind and heart, and you are really starting to understand how much He loves you! God’s Spirit now lives in you – in your spirit, and He is continually showing you new things and helping you grow. With all your heart you long to be the person God wants you to be, and the Holy Spirit in you knows that. He also knows that we can’t do it by ourselves, so He steps in on our behalf.
Romans 8:26 NLT
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.
There is a sense in which the Holy Spirit takes over when we lose our way in how to pray. It doesn’t mean that we stop praying, but the HS who lives in us prays God’s will over us and into us. And this takes place on a spiritual level that cannot be expressed in mere words.
But here is the catch. We must pray in order for the Spirit to take us to a deeper level. If we are not connecting with God through prayer, what then will the Holy Spirit have to work with? Now, let me also say that even if you are not praying faithfully, the Holy Spirit is still praying for you. But what do you suppose His prayer for you might be? “Father, help Mark to stop ignoring his spiritual health. Help Mark stay focused and not get so distracted by all the stuff he has to do that He forgets to wait on You and renew His spiritual strength.” [Wow! I might need to stop and answer my own altar call.]
Is prayer a priority in your life? It’s okay if you have a routine of prayer. We may consider certain things in our lives to be important, but unless we become intentional about them, it is easy to let them slide (family time, communication with spouse, etc.). Someone recently said that discipline in a poor substitute for passion. I agree with them in part, but I also think that setting a time and place for prayer and being disciplined about it is pretty important. However, if our prayer time becomes routine and lifeless, then we need to somehow become more fully present and engaged with the One who is fully present in us!
Real time communication with God is vital! Now let’s go a little deeper and talk about the power of praying in the Spirit.
Right off the bat I want to set the record straight on praying in other tongues. I believe in it, I’ve experienced it, and I wish I could be like Paul and say that I speak in tongues more than you all. However, let me just say that it is possible for a person to speak in tongues and not be praying in the Spirit. It is also possible for a person to pray in the Spirit and not be speaking in tongues.
Sometimes we lose our focus so easily. The fact is, almost one-third of all Christians around the world today are Pentecostal and do indeed speak in tongues and/or use other charismatic gifts you can read about in . And the places where revival is happening, with thousands of people coming to faith in Christ are primarily reached through Pentecostal and Charismatic outreach. All this aside, it is really not about speaking in tongues or not speaking in tongues. It is about pressing in and getting close enough to God that it impacts your life and the lives of those around you! God the Holy Spirit wants to make a difference in you and through you!
Acts 1:8 NLT
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
When the Spirit came we see several examples in Acts where people spoke in tongues and prophesied. In , after some of the disciples had been arrested, threatened, and beaten for preaching about Jesus, they gathered for a prayer meeting. They started praying in their normal spoken language, asking God to give them boldness to keep telling others about Jesus. Now, were they praying in the Spirit, or was it a lifeless prayer? I believe they were praying in the Spirit because the HS was in them, empowering them and guiding their prayers. And it is very possible that more prayer was going on than the one we read, including praying in tongues. But then something amazing happened. After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. Whether they prayed in tongues or not, their prayers resulted in power!
There have been times when I’ve prayed with people over a need or difficult situation that words would come to me that I knew were not my own. I believe the HS in me helps me pray in the Spirit – even in English! And it is amazing to see and hear some of the results of prayer that is prayed in the Spirit.
Jude, the half brother of Jesus, used this phrase.
Jude 20 NLT
20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,
The HS guides us, empowers us, and helps us as we pray. But again, He calls us to be fully present as we pray, just as He is fully present in and with us.
Finally, let’s talk about carrying out this Spirit-led prayer.
Paul gives some examples of “all kinds of prayers” in ,
1 Timothy 2:1–4 NLT
1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
1 Timothy 2:8 NLT
8 In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.
There are all kinds of prayer, there is a prayer to fit each particular situation or condition. There is public prayer, Private prayer, Individual Prayer, Corporate prayer, Long prayers, Short prayers, Standing prayers, Sitting down prayers, Lying on your face prayers, Walking prayers, The prayer of faith, The prayer of petition, The prayer of intercession, The prayer of submission, The prayer of repentance, and so on.
Use as needed, but make sure that you are praying in the Spirit, being led and guided by the Holy Spirit as you pray.
The word “supplication” comes from a Greek term which relates to special times of need. If Christians truly practice prayer as a way of life, then when the special times of need come along they will be prepared for them — to make “supplication” (URGENT REQUEST) before God, and see Him move in the situation.
Jesus told His disciples to watch and pray, so they would not enter into temptation. Another word often used here is vigilance. Keep your spiritual eyes open! Remember you still have an enemy who wants to destroy you. Never forget that. It’s not a matter of if you will be tempted and tested. It’s a matter of when or how often. Be ready by being prayed up. Live in such a way that there are no obstacles between you and God. Obstacles could be unforgiveness, unconfessed sin, or other things that might hinder your relationship with God. Keep the record clear! ()
1 John 1:9 NLT
9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
Jesus told His disciples to watch and pray, so they would not enter into temptation. Another word often used here is vigilance. Keep your spiritual eyes open! Remember you still have an enemy who wants to destroy you. Never forget that. It’s not a matter of if you will be tempted and tested. It’s a matter of when or how often. Be ready by being prayed up. Live in such a way that there are no obstacles between you and God. Obstacles could be unforgiveness, unconfessed sin, or other things that might hinder your relationship with God. Keep the record clear! ()
What would we do without prayer? I need the prayers many of you pray for me. You need the prayers that others pray for you! As a family, we try to stay connected enough to know when one of us is in need or is hurting. The very least we can do is pray. There may be other things that we can do, but let us never be so negligent to each other that we stop praying for one another. Paul goes on to ask prayer for himself that he will be able to do all God wants him to do in sharing the good news about Jesus with others – even from prison. He was aware that if others were praying in the Spirit for him, much more good would happen in the spiritual realm.
What would we do without prayer? I need the prayers many of you pray for me. You need the prayers that others pray for you! As a family, we try to stay connected enough to know when one of us is in need or is hurting. The very least we can do is pray. There may be other things that we can do, but let us never be so negligent to each other that we stop praying for one another. Paul goes on to ask prayer for himself that he will be able to do all God wants him to do in sharing the good news about Jesus with others – even from prison. He was aware that if others were praying in the Spirit for him, much more good would happen in the spiritual realm.
Conclusion: As we close, I want you to think about the gauge in your car that tells you how much fuel you have left. If your life had a gauge that measured your spiritual energy, what would it say? 3⁄4? 1⁄2 a tank? Are you in the red? Running on empty? The truth is if the gauge says anything but full, then God has something for you today. If you’ll ask Him to fill you up, He will do it! Lord, fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Teach me to pray in the Spirit, in real time, with real spiritual energy that comes from the HS. And don’t wait until you run out again. Pray in the Spirit on all occasions. Stay filled!
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