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Praying in the Spirit

Most Christians are familiar with Paul's command to "put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17)," but are less familiar with this key to doing so:
"Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end stay alert and always persevere in supplications for all the saints (6:18)."
What is praying in the Spirit? True, speaking in tongues is one form of praying the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:15), but not the only form. prayer in the Spirit is Spirit-directed prayer. But how can a believer know that her prayer is directed by the Spirit?

I learned what this means in youthful prayer experiments. When I was a college student, I went through a phase in which my prayer life seemed mechanical and impotent, So I made a dramatic decision: after the Sunday morning service, I would climb up the steps to the high steeple of our large old church, where there was a small Sunday school room. I would fast for lunch and instead spend most of the hours before the evening evangelistic service praying in the steeple. I had never before prayed for such a long period and I soon began to wonder if this was a good idea. I felt uncomfortable; my knees were sore; my praying was strained and forced and became repetitive as I ran out of words and wondered what I should be praying. This apparent failure hurt my pride, and so, I gutted it out until something remarkable began to happen after about 45 minutes: it was as if I felt the gentle breeze of the Spirit's presence and began to feel enveloped in divine love. Suddenly, the words just flowed effortlessly an spontaneously from my mind (words of praise, thanksgiving, petitions interspersed by a sense of being directed to enter periods of listening silence) and I felt a profound joy, praying in the Spirit for several hours. I took a break to finally catch a bite prior to the evening service. I think I had 3 of these all-afternoon prayer vigils.

Among my many petitions, I would pray for many conversions in the evening evangelistic service; and during our altar calls an unusually large number of people came forward to commit their lives to Christ. It was clear that my 3 prayer vigils helped unleash the convicting work of the Spirit. Decades later, I wonder what would happen if my weekly prayer group became connected to a church that conducts evening evangelistic services and collectively fasted and prayed in the Spirit for long hours as I did on those 3 holy occasions in my youth. As it is, our prayer group often experiences miracles and other obvious answers to prayer.

Paul tells us that to pray in the Spirit we must "stay alert" and "always persevere in supplications." Staying alert is essential in spiritual warfare. Many Christians let their minds wander during extended prayer sessions and drift off into tired daydreams. The need to persevere in supplications implies that longer prayer vigils are more effective than shorter sessions. Why, you ask, doesn't God get my message the first time I express it? Do I need to nag a reluctant God into compliance with my request? Hardly! I can take considerable time to shut distractions out for an adequate prayer focus and to deepen one's longing intensely enough to establish a deep enough connection with God for prayers to become effective.
The best way to pray is to make sure what the will of God is, because "faith" is what causes prayer to work. Faith comes by knowing what God's will is.

1Jn 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
1Jn 5:15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

Praying in the Spirit or by the Spirit will always be God's will!

One of the coolest things about prayer of faith is it goes on forever, it never stops being heard by God even though we only pray it once.
Paul told Timothy that the same faith that was in his grandmother Lois, and in his mother Eunice was now in him.

2Ti 1:5 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.

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