Pray in the Spirit on all occasions Ephesians 6:18

Ephesians 6:18 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 Lord’s people.
“Pray in the Spirit.” When you think how important the Holy Spirit is in prayer, it is surprising that we only find that phrase twice in the New Testament. “Pray in the Spirit”. Here and in Jude verse 20.
But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.
Of course there are many other places where the Bible encourages us to pray.
“Pray without ceasing” Paul commands in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12.) Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Colossians 4:2) Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Ephesians 6:18)
We should be devoted to prayer, as the first Christians were. We should always be praying without ceasing, repeatedly and often. Our prayers should include “All kinds of prayers and requests”. Praise. Thanksgiving. Adoration. Petitions for our own needs and intercessions for the needs of other people. But here we also have this particular exhortation in Ephesians 6:18. Pray in the Spirit on all occasions. What does it mean to “pray in the Spirit”?
When a person becomes a Christian, God the Holy Spirit comes to live inside us a special way to make us God’s children.
ROMANS 8:14-16 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
So it is the Holy Spirit inside us that makes us into God’s children and helps us to call God, “Abba, Father”. It is God the Holy Spirit who enables us to communicate with God in prayer. David Watson wrote this.
“God is the living God … and every day He wants us to enjoy a living relationship with Him, involving a two-way conversation.”
God wants us to speak to Him in prayer, but He also wants to listen to Him. So the first part of praying in the Spirit is
God speaks to us in many ways. First and foremost God has revealed Himself to the world in His Son Jesus Christ who is the visible image of the invisible God. And so God speaks to us through the Bible which had recorded all that Jesus said and did, as well as everything else God said and did through history. God also speaks to us through the church, through sermons and Bible Studies and also through other Christians. But sometimes God also speaks directly to individual Christians as we listen to Him in our times of prayer. God may make verses of the Bible leap out at us as if they were written directly just for me. Or He can speak to us in other ways I will talk about in a moment. Praying in the Spirit involves making time and spare as we are praying for God to speak to us. Back in the 11th Century St Anselm wrote this.
“ Flee, for a little while, thy occupations; hide thyself, for a time, from thy disturbing thoughts. Cast aside, now, thy burdensome cares, and put away thy toilsome business. Yield room for some little time to God; and rest for a little time in him. Enter the inner chamber of thy mind; shut out all thoughts save that of God, and such as can aid thee in seeking him; close thy door and seek him. Speak now, my whole heart! speak now to God, saying, I seek thy face; thy face, Lord, will I seek.”
Prayer is conversation with God. So we need to make time and space to listen to God in our praying. We can expect God to speak to us, because of
In Acts 2 when Peter stood up and gave his first sermon on the Day of Pentecost, he explained the work of the Holy Spirit who is God’s gift to the Church quoting these words from Joel chapter 2.
Acts 2 17 ‘ “In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
In the spiritual gift of prophecy, God speaks directly to Christians through the Holy Spirit. And every Christian can expect God to speak to us sometimes, because we have all been given the Holy Spirit who inspires prophecy.
Acts 2 38 Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.’
In prophecy, it is unusual for Christians to actually hear God speaking to them in words. But Peter has just talked about the Holy Spirit inspiring prophecy, and Christians seeing visions and dreaming dreams. So when we are praying in the Holy Spirit we can certainly expect God to speak to us in those kinds of ways. In her address as President of the Baptist Union, Margaret Jarman asked, “Have you listened for God’s voice speaking directly to you? Have you considered that He may speak through your intuition, through your imagination, through dreams and visions, through flashes of inspiration?” Sometimes God is speaking to us, but we don’t recognise His voice. We need to open ourselves to listen to God, and pray as the prophet Samuel did, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3)
Exercising the spiritual gift of prophecy. Thirdly, praying in the Spirit will involve:
Rom 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
“Groans that words cannot express” (NIV84)
In many situations we don’t know what we should be praying for. What is God’s will in this situation or for that person. So we need the Holy Spirit to inspire our prayers and tell us what to pray for. And even if all we can do is groan and sigh in prayer, the Holy Spirit is with us, inspiring our prayers and interceding for us. And one more aspect of the Spirit inspiring our prayers is
Speaking in tongues is a form of prayer some Christians use where you are speaking to God in a language you have not learned which in inspired by the Holy Spirit. If God has given you that spiritual gift, don’t waste it but make time to pray using the gift of tongues.
Listening to God. Exercising the spiritual gift of prophecy. Letting God tell us what to pray for. And praying in tongues. Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Let’s finish by seeing what Paul says next about prayer.
Ephesians 6:18
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 Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
We saw in our series “Prepared to Give an Answer” how the most common subject for prayer in the New Testament is not healing, or other kinds of blessing, or the government, but the proclamation of the gospel. That the good news of Jesus should be shared with the power of the Holy Spirit so that people would be saved! So in our Week of Prayer and Fasting it is right that we spend time praying for our own witness and outreach and evangelism, and individuals and as a church. Praying that we will be bold in talking about Jesus to our neighbours and friends. Praying that the seeds of the gospel will take root and grow and bear fruit of eternal life.

God is inviting us to meet with Him in prayer. Pray in the Spirit with all kinds of prayers and requests. John Stott once wrote this. “The thing I know will give me the deepest joy – namely to be alone and unhurried in the presence of God, aware of His presence, my heart open to worship Him – is often the thing I least want to do.”

So, let’s all take the opportunities of our Week of Prayer and Fasting to spend extra time in prayer. Praying by ourselves, and meeting together to pray. Listening to God. Prophecy. Asking God to show us what to pray for. Speaking in Tongues.
Ephesians 6:18 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 Lord’s people.

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