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.
In Jesus’ prayer to the Father, he says: “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are” (John 17:11). He was saying, “We agreed that I could bring into our covenant everyone who trusts in me. Now, Father, I ask you to bring these beloved ones under the same covenant promises you made to me.”
What does this covenant between Father and Son have to do with you and me? It is a picture of God’s love for his beloved creation. He cut this covenant because he was unwilling to lose a single child to Satan. It is all about his undying love for his people.
The Father gave his Son, the Son gave his life, and we receive all the benefits. By mutual consent, the Father and Son made this covenant to keep and preserve the seed of Christ. It ensures that we will endure to the end and we will be kept safe.
The promise to save and deliver us, then, and our confidence that God will keep it, has a precedent in the relationship between Father and Son.
Did the Father lead and guide Jesus, as he pledged he would? Did his Spirit empower the Son, giving him encouragement and consolation? Did he bring him through all his temptations and trials? Did he keep him from the powers of darkness? Did he usher him home to glory victorious? Was God true to his part of the covenant terms?
Yes, absolutely! And the Father who kept his covenant promises to his Son has pledged an eternal oath to do the same for us. Jesus affirmed this part of the covenant when he said, “The glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me” (John 17:22-23).
If you stay in Christ — abide in him and trust him — you will surely see his glory!
“For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5:3-4).
Right now, the world is in such turmoil that people are asking, “Is the world spinning out of control? Are we seeing the winding up of history?” We now understand what Jesus meant when he said: “There will be … distress of nations … men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26).
When Jesus gave that warning, he added this statement: “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (21:27-28).
All the terrifying things we see coming upon the earth right now have to do with the coming of Christ. Beyond all the gross darkness covering the earth, a cloud is being formed in heaven, and one day soon Christ is going to enter that cloud and reveal himself to the whole world. “When you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near” (21:31).
The Christians in Paul’s day wanted him to write about prophetic times and Paul responded that “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). He went on to further describe the event and then he said, “Therefore comfort one another with these words” (4:18).
Paul’s exhortation was meant to be an encouragement. Likewise, today, we are not to fret or be overly concerned over current events because we well know that it is all signaling the coming of the Lord Jesus to take away his people.
When Jesus said, “Look up” (Luke 21:28), he was telling us to keep our focus on him and his soon return! Truly, this is our wonderful hope!
God’s servants must come into his presence fully persuaded that he will answer. It is a good thing to bring the promises of God into prayer with you — to stand on as you remind him of them. Certainly, he does not have a loss of memory, but the Lord loves for us to bring his promises before him.
Peter was given a vision and he wondered what it could mean. As he pondered it, God told him, “Three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them” (Acts 10:19). This passage of Scripture tells us that when God declares something to be true, we are to believe and stand on it, without consulting our flesh. We simply cannot measure the reliability of God’s Word by examining our situation or our own worthiness. If we do, we will end up only seeing that we are unworthy. Then we may end up talking ourselves out of claiming his Word and appropriating it.
The Bible says we are petitioners at God’s throne and Christ is there as our intercessor or advocate. “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). “He always lives to make intercession for [us]” (Hebrews 7:25). “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).
By the shed blood of Jesus on the cross, the door to the Father’s throne is open for us and we have access to personally bring our requests to God. We also have the Holy Spirit, who is our “paraclete,” one who stands as our advisor, advocate, comforter, mediator and intercessor. He reminds us of the eternal decrees and divine constitution that make up God’s Word — so we have these incredible promises.
It is reassuring to know that God is truly pleased when you approach his throne with boldness, binding him to his own Word. And he will make sure you know that he is pleased with you.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2).
Many of us have moved a number of times throughout our lifetime but once we get to heaven, we will never have to move again. Jesus tells us that he has gone to prepare a place for us and it is a permanent home. A Christian woman asked, “If there will be innumerable multitudes in heaven, how could God possibly make a habitation for everybody? How could there be room enough for so many places?”
Let us consider Jesus’ words on the subject: “I go to prepare a place for you.” These words ought to mean something to us. Some Bible scholars interpret Jesus’ meaning here as “many dwellings.” That may or may not be accurate, but I do know this for certain: If Jesus is building it, we can be sure it is something glorious!
As you envision the place our Lord is preparing for you, do not picture brick buildings or anything like that. Rather, his habitations are of another realm altogether. As limited humans, we cannot conceive of a realm in which the body passes through all material substances unhindered. (Jesus did this after his resurrection, and he says that in heaven our glorified bodies will be like his.) This is a realm no scientist has discovered, one vastly different from anything we can comprehend.
The most important point Jesus makes about heaven is, “This is home! You are going to live eternally where I live.” “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (14:3). Simply put, there is a home in eternity for each of us. Jesus said, in essence, “When that day comes — when you are here with me — I will personally show you what I have built for you.” Truly, that will be glorious!