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The Spirit’s Assistance in Prayer

It is worthy of note that the Spirit’s assistance in prayer is more frequently mentioned than any of His other offices. All true praying springs from His activity in the heart. Both Paul and Jude teach that effective prayer is “praying in the Holy Spirit,” which has been defined as praying “along the same lines, about the same things, in the same Name as the Holy Spirit.” All true prayer rises in the spirit of the believer from the Spirit who indwells him.

Praying in the Spirit may have a dual significance. It may mean praying in the realm of the Holy Spirit, for He is the sphere and atmosphere of the believer’s life. The Spirit is in us and we are in the Spirit. Many prayers are psychical rather than spiritual. They move in the realm of the mind only, and are the product of our own thinking and not of the Spirit’s teaching. But praying in the Spirit is something deeper. The prayer envisaged here “utilizes the body and demands the cooperation of the mind, but moves in the supernatural realm of the Spirit.” Prayer conducts its business in the heavenlies.

Or it may mean praying in the power and energy of the Holy Spirit: “Give yourselves wholly to prayer and entreaty; pray on every occasion in the power of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18, NEB). Prayer demands more than human power and energy for its supernatural task, and the Holy Spirit supplies it. He is the Spirit of power as well as the Spirit of prayer. Mere human energy of heart and mind and will can achieve only human results. But praying in the power of the Spirit releases supernatural resources.

It is the Spirit’s delight to aid us in our physical and moral weakness in the prayer life, for the praying heart labors under three limiting handicaps; but in each of them we can count on the Spirit’s assistance. Sometimes we are kept from prayer because of the conscious iniquity of our hearts. The Spirit will lead and enable us to appropriate the cleansing of the blood of Christ which will silence the accusations of the adversary and remove the sense of guilt and pollution. Always we are hampered by the limiting ignorance of our minds. The Spirit who knows the mind of God will share that knowledge with us as we wait on Him. Then there will come the quiet, clear conviction that our request is in the will of God, and faith will be kindled. We are often earthbound through the benumbing infirmity of our bodies. The Spirit will quicken our mortal bodies in response to our faith and enable us to rise above physical and climatic conditions.

J. Oswald Sanders, Cultivation of Christian Character, (Moody Press, Chicago; 1965), pp. 105-107

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