I recently shared with our District Presbytery Board that praying in the Spirit is possibly one of the most under-utilized resources of the Pentecostal believer. I make this statement because we don’t pray in the Spirit as often we should. The Lord has recently been speaking to me and renewing in me a passion for praying in the Spirit!
Consider with me some of the as-pects of this powerful resource which is available to every Spirit-filled believer! Jude tells us in verse 20 that praying in the Spirit builds our faith, “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spir-it.” Donald Stamps made this state-ment about this verse in the Full Life Study Bible, “Build yourselves up: By praying in the Spirit. We must pray by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, i.e., by looking to the Spirit to inspire, guide, energize, sustain and help us to do battle in our praying.” We must encourage people to pray in the Spirit on a regular basis.
Paul told the church in Corinth in his first letter to them, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more (often) than all of you” (I Corinthi-ans 14:18). Paul also stated, “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself” (I Corinthians 14:18). Paul speaks of how that he prays in the Spirit and he prays with his mind, “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 mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind” (I Corinthians 14:14-15). In other words, he did both, he prayed in an unknown tongue and in his known language. We need to follow his example.
Another aspect of praying in the Spirit causes us to pray according to the will of God. Romans 8:26- 27 states, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot ex-press. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spir-it, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” I find that I do not always know what to pray in cer-tain situations but the Spirit knows exactly what the will of God is in every situation. So, instead of us praying with our limited under-standing, we can allow the Spirit to pray in accordance with God’s will. You cannot pray a more effective prayer!
Then we must create an atmos-phere of hunger for the things of God. In Matthew 5:6 Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” As leaders, it is important that we allow our people hear us pray in the Spirit. It is not for the purpose of them imitating but for the purpose of instructing them.
Allow the infilling of the Holy Spirit to be renewed in you today and pray in the Spirit. I challenge you to create a hunger for the things of God, to remind people of the importance of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and encourage them to pray in the Spirit!
*Unless noted, all scripture is from the NIV translation.
When we think of the spiritual discipline of fasting generally the first thing that comes to mind is going without a meal. However, the Bible is filled with many great examples of how we can give expression to this spiritual discipline.
Let’s consider what it means to fast. The Full Life Study Bible defines a fast as: “going without food in order to give greater attention to spiritual matters.” Fasting, is not to gain merit with God, rather it is to give expression to the fact that you are more interested in drawing closer to God than to the temporal pleasure brought about by whatever you are denying your physical body. Any time we give up one of the pleasures of this life, even though but for a season, it will better prepare us for all the Lord has in store for our lives. Yet, when we fast we can expect a reward from our Heavenly Father. Jesus told the disciples in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:18 that when a fast is con-ducted in a correct manner our Fa-ther, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. So there is great reward which can be expected when we follow the pattern in the Bible during our times of fasting. Donald Stamps, in The Full Life Study Bible, suggests that fasting can be called “prayer with-out words.”
Another aspect of fasting which needs consideration is that we can abstain from any number of things and commit this time to seeking after the things of God. For example, as a pastor, I would encourage our church to abstain from watching television for 20 days prior to a revival meeting and to pray 20 minutes a day specifically for the revival. We would call this our 20/20 Fast. This was always a challenge in our household with small children. Often, we would just unplug the television for the 20 days to avoid sitting down to relax in the evening and out of habit, turning on the television. There are many creative ways to encourage people to set aside additional time for greater spiritual matters.
It is clear that Jesus intended for His followers to fast. In Matthew 9:15 (NIV) when Jesus was questioned about why His disciples did not fast, He stated, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.” We are living during the time of which Jesus spoke. The period of time between when Jesus has ascended to heaven and when He returns is the time Jesus said His disciples would fast. May we use fasting as one of our expressions of showing the Lord that we long for His return. Fast-ing can also be used as a tool to prepare ourselves for His coming and also a sign of sorrow for the sin and decay of our present world.
One final point to consider is how often should we fast? This is a personal issue. However, I believe that the correct response is often and regularly. Since fasting in the Bible is often connected to praying why would we consider it to be something that we just do, occasionally? I believe that it is safe to assume that, since Jesus often spent the night in prayer, it would include a time of fasting the evening meal in order to pray. Or when it speaks of Him arising a great while before day to go out to pray, He probably fasted breakfast that morning. So, fasting often and regularly does not seem to be out-side the realm of probability.
Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart about the wonderful opportunity of drawing closer to the Master, through the spiritual discipline of fasting!