Paul told the Ephesians to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18). What an interesting phrase and word picture — pray in the Spirit. Pray in, through, and by the Holy Spirit, who is God himself!
In addition to this reference in Ephesians, there are more: “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15). Notice that Paul prays not only with his mind but also with his spirit, stirred and prompted by the Spirit of God.
Where else would the Spirit primarily work but in our human spirits? Also, to combat those who divide the Body of Christ, those who follow “mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit,” Jude told his leaders to “build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20, emphasis added).
These directives about prayer inspired by the Holy Spirit might seem like emotional fanaticism to some. They feel it’s for those “other folks” who always sing too loudly and lift their hands in church every six seconds. They say, “That’s not how I was raised in church.”
God gave us the Bible so we could prayerfully and humbly search its depths and experience what it promises. Did the Holy Spirit’s power to inspire prayer somehow evaporate during the centuries following the book of Acts? Will the Spirit help us today any less, especially when we need him most? This does not sound like what a merciful God would do.
How will we boldly pray in faith if the Holy Spirit is not helping us? Only as the Spirit leads and inspires will we rise to a new level of prevailing prayer. Then strongholds will come down, loved ones will be visited by God’s grace, and people around us will be reminded that Christ is a living Savior and not a mere theological concept.
Nothing is too hard for God. “Lord, teach us to pray, and let it be prayer in the Holy Spirit.”
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.