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Praying in the Spirit

By Gary Denbow

When I think of the baptism in the Holy Spirit I think of all the benefits that experience affords to you and me. I have concluded that the benefits of the Spirit-filled life are so great that I am willing to go through whatever process might be necessary to receive those benefits.

Paul gave each of us the command to put on the whole armor of God so we could successfully fight the enemy of our souls and all of his wicked forces (Ephesians 6:10-18). After Paul finished outlining the six pieces of spiritual armor needed, he instructed us to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (v. 18, NIV). Jude added that we are to “pray in the Holy Spirit” as a part of keeping ourselves strong in the faith (Jude 20).

Have you considered lately the amazing opportunity you and I have to pray in the Holy Spirit? Let’s break down its meaning together.

Pray in the presence of the Holy Spirit

The truth is that the Holy Spirit is omnipresent — everywhere present at the same time. But biblical men and women understood there were times when special contact was made with the Holy Spirit — when special manifestations of the Holy Spirit occurred.

The psalmist Asaph’s experience was during a terrible plight he recorded in the first part of Psalm 73. His “feet had almost slipped.” He could barely stand (v. 2). He had become envious and discouraged. But note his statement in verses 16 and 17: “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” Outside the presence of God, nothing made sense. But, in the presence of God, all became clear.

Every amazing thing that was revealed to John in the entire Book of Revelation came while he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10, NASB). The same can happen to you and me.

What a privilege to be able to go to prayer and enter into the presence of God. We are always welcome there.

Pray in the passion of the Holy Spirit

Effective prayer takes place when our human efforts are energized by the presence of the Holy Spirit. The key effect realized in your life and mine when the Holy Spirit moves into our hearts and souls is passion. That passion is illustrated in the prayer of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:9-17. She prayed so passionately that Eli, the priest, mistook her for being drunk.

Jesus prayed so passionately in Gethsemane that His sweat “was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44, NIV). And we are sure that He received direction in that passionate prayer.

The “groans that words cannot express” cited in Romans 8:26 speak of passionate, deep feelings that are born within you and me. Thank God we have the Holy Spirit to help us with prayer when we are heavily burdened.

James 5:16 speaks of prayer that is energized and effectively active. That kind of prayer is exemplified by Elijah who earnestly prayed for rain after a long drought. He prayed with great passion. We should too, and we have the Holy Spirit to help us!

Pray in the parlance of the Holy Spirit

When it comes to preaching — communicating the gospel — Paul is clear. The language of the people hearing the message must be used either in the prophecy directly or through interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:5-9). But, Paul also writes that there is value in praying in the language of the Spirit (v. 15). Why does Paul say that? The language of the Spirit is the language of the presence of God where a believer can be made whole (v. 2). The language of the Spirit supersedes human language in terms of understanding the mind of God. The language of the Spirit encourages our own spirit (v. 4). And, the language of the Spirit connects the human spirit with God (v. 14). All of us would benefit greatly by praying in the language of the Holy Spirit.

Pray in the power of the Holy Spirit

Peter and John had just been released from prison (Acts 4:23). They gave the believers a firsthand account of the treatment they had received while in the hands of the temple guard. In response to threats and strong opposition to the preaching of the gospel, the disciples went to prayer (v. 24). They poured out their hearts to God, and He answered. “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” (v. 31). The gathered disciples felt their meeting place tremble as the power of God moved upon them.

You and I are privileged to pray in that same power. We are invited into God’s presence, and we come boldly there to make our needs known (Hebrews 4:16). You and I have all we need through the baptism in the Holy Spirit to pray a prayer that would shake the very kingdoms of this world.

So let’s move into the presence of God by faith. Let’s remove all hindrances and pray passionately — with all the means afforded to us by the Holy Spirit. Let’s bind together to pray with power. This great benefit is given to us by God himself. Let’s make full use of it!


Dr. GARY DENBOW is president of Central Bible College in Springfield, Mo.

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