Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit (NKJV);
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (NIV)
What is prayer?
Prayer is not for the maintenance of the Christian life.
Prayer is the Christian life.
True prayer is being conscious of God - conscious of Him as our Father, as our Provider, as our Answer.
More specifically, praying in the Spirit is:
- Praying in the consciousness of the new covenant
- Praying in the knowledge of grace
- Praying in the sense of righteousness
One way of looking at this is: praying in the Spirit is being conscious of Jesus and seeing His lovely smile
When do we pray?
As God's beloved children, we pray with all kinds of prayers, in all kinds of seasons, for all kinds of reasons.
Even though God already knows what we need before we pray (Matt 6:8), we still pray, not so much for our Father to know what we want, but more so for us to clarify our own thoughts and intentions, and to locate where we are, in terms of our relationships with Him.
Also, when we pray, we cause ourselves to become more aware of Him (our Answer), instead of being only aware of the circumstances we are in, and the challenges we are facing (our problems).
We pray both with understanding, as well as with the Spirit. (1 Cor 14:15). Having confidence not in the way we pray, but in the Lord Jesus who intercedes for us always, as well as in the Holy Spirit who prays for, in, and through, us.
How do we pray?
We know that because of Jesus our Perfect High Priest, all our prayers (prayed with understanding) are perfect when they reach our Father's ears.
We also know that because of the Holy Spirit who is in us, all our prayers in the Holy Spirit are perfect prayers even when we don't exactly know how to articulate the words of our prayers. We know that our Father loves us so much that even a groan will reach His throne (Rom 8:26).
We pray in Jesus Name: we pray in the consciousness of His authority, character and will. And when we pray with that consciousness, we know we are praying according to His will, and we have confidence that our Father hears us (1 John 5:14).
What about unanswered prayers?
An illustration: two 4-year-old boys (twin brothers) each asks their Father for a shaver. The Father does not give them what they want immediately. One boy walks away knowing his Father loves him, and is content with his father's reassuring word that his request has been heard. The other boy goes away crying and complaining that the Father does not love him anymore.
Same request. Same Father. Same answer. But different reactions. What's the difference? Answer: the respective child's relationship with the Father.
Know that our Father wants to bless us more than we want to be blessed. Know that our Father has our best interest in His heart for us. He has the best answers to our prayers. And His timing is always the best timing.
Focus not on things we pray for, but on the One to whom we pray. As the relationship between us and our Father grows stronger and stronger, we realise more and more that He hears and answers us - every time, all the time.
What about the people who were prayed for and yet passed away?
Know that God's will is for people to have life more abundantly. His will is for his people to prosper and be in health, even as their souls prosper. (3 John 2)
Understand that death is NOT the horrible end-all of everything. Know that our lives on earth are only a short while compared to all eternity. Know that for babies and believers who died, they are in a much better place - they are having the most wonderful with Jesus in heaven.
For people who died, apparently without Christ, trust that God is perfectly just and perfectly loving, and leave things in His hands. There will be many people in heaven we'll get to see that we don't expect to see. However, our part is not to speculate, but to trust in our Father's perfect justice, goodness and wisdom.
Be conscious of Jesus and His lovely smile.
The success of prayer is not measured by the size and scope of our accomplishment (though that is important). The success of prayer is measured by the strength and depth of our relationships with our Father who loves us.
The power of prayer is not in moving the hand of God. The power of prayer is in being moved by the heart of God. When we are moved by God's heart, we will move in tandem with God's hand.
Prayer is not about looking for rewards. Prayer itself is the reward.(First published on 30 Sep 2005. Edited and republished on 28 Feb 2009)