Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
Using the analogy of a Roman Centurion Paul makes the point that advancing the Gospel of the Kingdom will draw opposition. Since this warfare is one of differing ideologies, it is a war fought in the realm of the Spirit. The spirit realm is where much of the motivation behind influential ideas and agendas (good or bad) come from. Paul insists that all prayer must be “in the Spirit” or “in the realm of the Holy Spirit” for the Gospel to be effective.
Praying in the Spirit on all Occasions
Praying in the Spirit on all occasions means to be praying in the realm of the Holy Spirit. Praying in the Spirit is much more than using your prayer language. I believe that praying in tongues is important, but that is not the full scope of what Paul has in view in this passage. Praying in the Spirit is simply Holy Spirit inspired and directed praying.
Paul distinguished the two inspired types of praying this way; “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 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 14:14-15). Whether praying in tongues (your spirit) or with your understanding, it is the inspiration and direction of the Holy Spirit that makes your praying effective.
A growing dependency on the Spirit’s help in prayer will sometimes lead you to pray outside your normal comfort zone. Being led and empowered by the Holy Spirit in prayer will often cause His gifts to operate while you are praying. This is not something that you decide to do, but something that happens naturally as you yield to the Spirit’s gentle promptings within your heart. This is how He leads you while you are praying.
Inspired and Instructed by the Spirit
The Holy Spirit is your helper and your teacher. He will gradually guide you into the proper use of His gifts. We do not always understand God’s agenda for something we are praying about, nor do we always know the plans and intentions of the enemy. This is why Paul says “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26).
This is not the type of praying that you can produce by your own thinking or by your own natural wisdom. This kind of praying is built upon a growing intimate relationship with God. Praying “Thy will be done” means that you have a growing desire to pray prayers that are aligned with God’s purposes. This is why it’s so important for you to yield yourself to the Holy Spirit’s leading and let Him teach you a whole new way of praying.
A Fascinating Journey
Holy Spirit inspired and directed praying is a fascinating journey into the awe inspiring wonders of intimacy with God. For some this may be a seismic paradigm shift of Biblical proportions, but, have no fear, it’s a journey your Heavenly Father has prepared for you.
Praying in the Spirit on all occasions will help you to become more effective in advancing God’s Kingdom purposes on the earth through prayer. This kind of praying will also bring your intimate relationship with your heavenly Father to realms that were formerly unknown to you.
If you are an intelligent orderly analytically driven individual, who craves principles to map out every step of your journey…you may be disappointed, for this is one journey you’ll take by learning to trust God with all your heart and not always lean on your own understanding (see Proverbs 3:5-6). Your Heavenly Father is a person not a principle; therefore, this type of praying is highly relational and is all about a journey of discovering the heart (God’s as well as your own).
Keep in mind that the word for “Spirit” is wind. Jesus said in John 3:8 that those who are born of the Spirit and listen to His voice are like the wind. You can feel the wind but cannot tell where it came from or where it is going next. You have no choice but to trust and let the wind (Holy Spirit) take you where He will. You may have to surrender your prayer list on those occasions when you sense the gentle prompting of the Spirit, leading you to pray for something or someone other than those on your prayer list.
This kind of intuitive praying flows from your heart out of your intimate relationship with God. Following the Spirit’s leading is important because God alone knows every detail of every situation, and He alone knows what the enemy is up to at all times, and what type of praying will derail his schemes.
Patience is truly a virtue (also a fruit of the Spirit) on this prayer journey. No one is perfect, and it does take time and practice to learn how to follow your heart in prayer. To be transformed by renewing your mind to think differently about God and prayer takes persistence. But, take heart, the Holy Spirit is within you and upon you to help you every step of the way.
Ask for the Spirit’s help in prayer. Be persistent, Be filled with the Holy Spirit at all times, praying in the Spirit on all occasions. Yield yourself to the gentle breeze from heaven, and Be Encouraged! -JSP