Learn how to pray
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:16).
Jesus announced the provision of a Helper who would come alongside us. The Spirit doesn’t teach you by saying ‘here’s a textbook on prayer’. He teaches you by coming into you and praying in you. Suddenly you are taken out of yourself, you know an exchange is taking place inside you. Words start pouring out of you that you know didn’t have their origins in you. You find another energy, which Paul talks about in Colossians, ‘we pray with all the energy that He mightily inspires within us.’ We begin to engage with the Spirit.
When we pray with others who are also filled with the Spirit, a supernatural thing starts happening amongst us – a greater faith level, an encouragement of one to the other, a charismatic thing. God wants to energise us in prayer. That’s why true charismatic worship is awesome. I don’t just mean singing contemporary songs with good melodies and good rhythm. I mean people engaging with the Spirit together. It’s most wonderful. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God engages with us and we, with Him.
‘If it’s your will…’ – the lazy cop out!
Sometimes prayer meetings have been turn-offs. Charles Finney, before he was saved, when at a prayer meeting was asked, ‘Would you like to be prayed for?’ He answered, ‘I don’t think you should bother. I cannot detect any kind of thing happening here.’ He couldn’t detect any faith.
God wants us to be filled with the knowledge of His will with all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Not the cop-out which sometimes undermines faith, ‘if it’s your will’. We know there is a reverence, an appropriate reverence to God that honours His will, but such an expression can be a lazy cop-out which means I never press in. Saying ‘If it is your will’ can make your prayer pointless. No, there is a reverence, a respect, a fear of God but if that cuts the nerve of prayer we have misunderstood that verse. God wants us to live with verses like, ‘This is the confidence we have, if we ask anything according to His will we know He hears us. If we know He hears us, we know we have the petition that we ask of Him.’ That’s why it is so good to read Christian biographies. Read about great Christian men and women of the past who learned these lessons by pressing through and obtaining promises.
Laying hold of God
If Newfrontiers is going to march out to all the nations, there has got to be this laying hold of God. It must become part of who we are. He chose us – to what purpose? ‘That you might bear fruit in whatever you ask the Father in My name.’ So I am a God-appointed asker. I am here by royal appointment, to ask. He that comes to God must believe that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Let’s learn to pray and teach those in our churches to pray.
Praying in tongues
Paul says in Corinthians, ‘I will pray with the mind, I will also pray with the Spirit. I will pray with the understanding, I will also pray with the Spirit.’ There he is talking about praying in tongues. He said, ‘When I speak in tongues, my spirit is praying but my mind is unfruitful.’ There are times when we pray and we pray in tongues, praying with the Spirit. I would say that comes under the whole umbrella of ‘in the Spirit’ but it’s quite specifically not ‘with the understanding’. I go in and out of praying in tongues when I am praying.
I find sometimes it’s hard to express faith when I am praying in tongues since I don’t know what I am praying so I pray in tongues and alternately pray ‘with the understanding’. Paul says, ‘I pray in tongues more than all of you Corinthians.’ He said ‘I don’t pray so much in tongues in the meeting but when I am alone I pray in tongues more than all of you Corinthians.’ So praying in tongues is perfectly valid and appropriate. It is extraordinarily uplifting and you sense the presence of God with you.
This post was adapted from the 3rd of three sermons on the Armour of God preached at Together on a Mission 2010