Summary: When we realize how fully present God is with us through His Holy Spirit, our prayers can take on a new dimension of power and effectiveness.
Praying in the Spirit
Ephesians 6:13-18 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 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 saints.
Intro: Today we arrive at the culmination of Paul’s teaching on the armor of God. He calls on his spiritual warrior friends to pray in the Spirit. Now praying in the spirit is not presented as part of the armor of God, but it is certainly one of the keys to victory in the battlefield! A believer who has accepted the armor of God but does not pray, is like a person who is all dressed up with no place to go. Nice armor, but what difference are we really making without prayer?
-Prayer is so essential! Your relationship with God, your spiritual walk, your Christian experience, will never rise higher than your prayer life. Prayer is often misunderstood. Prayer has to do with understanding how to be in God’s presence- how to be around God. Prayer is about learning to become God’s friend. In the presence of God, we learn to embrace things that we are normally uncomfortable with: silence, solitude, and our own thoughts. Prayer helps us connect with the deep heart of God and it reveals the depths of our own hearts. It makes us conscious of our need before God and reveals to us that God is and has what we need. Prayer brings us to a place of receiving from God what we could never obtain any other way. Prayer is less about words and more about presence, both my presence with God and his presence with me. It is about me being fully present with God, as I begin to sense that He is fully present with me. Have you ever talked to somebody who seemed to be somewhere else? Have you ever been that somebody? How did that work out for you?
-So today as we talk about praying in the Spirit, let’s try to keep in mind that it is in the context of relationship and communication – not about going through the motions or doing some sort of spiritual gymnastics. Here is where we are going today:
Prop: When we realize how fully present God is with us through His Holy Spirit, our prayers can take on a new dimension of power and effectiveness.
TS: I’d like to examine a few thoughts from Ephesians 6:18 that will help us learn to better live in the Spirit and pray in the Spirit.
I. The Priority of Praying in the Spirit
-Prayer is of such importance that Paul uses words like “all” and “always” to describe our use of it. Regardless of what the occasion is, Paul says to pray in the Spirit. One way of looking at this is to realize that any prayer that is not prayed in the Spirit is a lifeless prayer. So just because you are praying over a meal or saying your bedtime prayers (both being based on routines), don’t pray a lifeless prayer.
-Realize that God is fully present with you. Give Him the courtesy of being fully present with Him. I almost hate to say it that way because God doesn’t want your courtesy – He wants your heart! He isn’t out to make you mind your manners, He is fully present to transform your entire life – if you’ll let Him.
-Each of us receives on average about 50,000-60,000 messages per day. Most of these messages are silent thoughts you consciously entertain daily from within - it is called self-talk. How is it that we can speak to ourselves 50,000 messages daily - as busy as we are - yet cannot find opportunity to talk to God? Prayer is just like self-talk except that it is focused on the Lord. You are talking to the Lord rather than to yourself. Our lives would be a whole lot better and more blessed if we talked to God a lot more often than talking to ourselves. Self-talk can easily become imbalanced either with pride or with negativity. We need self-talk, but we need God-talk even more!