Jude exhorts us to be “praying in the Holy Ghost”(Jude 20), Paul in Ehp.6:18 states, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit”, and 1Cor.14:15 says “I will pray with the spirit”, while the religious Pharisee of Luke 18:11 addresses God with his prayer and “prayed thus with himself”. Does this mean there is the danger of times when prayer can be “in the flesh”? If so, how can we as saved people ensure that we are praying in the Spirit and not in the flesh?
Thank you and LORD bless,
Thank you for your pertinent question. Yes, it is quite possible to just go through the motions of prayer without the leadership and enablement of the Spirit.
Some go through the motions in order to look good. Jonathan Goforth discerned this in a man during the Manchurian Revival. In public prayer meetings where God was working, this man would jump in and pray, pray long, and the meeting would be deadened. After several consecutive nights with this dilemma, Goforth confronted the man who admitted he was praying to look good because he saw what was going on around him.
Others may not have deceptive motives but just operate in the sphere of the flesh—and this may happen more than anyone cares to admit.
Praying in the Spirit is just one application of walking in the Spirit. Just as by faith “I live, yet not I, but Christ lives” so “I pray, yet not I, but Christ prays.” It is a matter of trusting the Spirit’s leadership and power, but applying it to prayer.
In the recent article on discerning the Spirit’s leadership, we noted how the Spirit leads, always in harmony with the Word, imparting knowing/not feeling, and so forth. When the Spirit burdens your spirit to pray, you can pray in the confidence you are praying in the Spirit. But even without a sense of burden, when you recognize a need and know that God is the answer, you can begin praying. Obviously, we need to seek His mind so we are praying in His will. As we do we can trust Him to enable us to pray. This is the Spirit-filled life applied to prayer.
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