Praying in the Holy Spirit

Today in our church service we are considering these two verses which reference “praying in God’s Holy Spirit.”

But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. (Jude 1:20, 21 NLT)

Also:

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:18 NLT)

Our pastor (Mateen Elass) pointed out these references are not talking about speaking in tongues. Neither is this a reference to God interpreting our groans & nonverbal messages which we share as we pray.

Instead, these verses are calling us to be “in sync” with the Holy Spirit so out desires & passions are in alignment with God’s. As we read in the Psalms:

Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land. Soon the wicked will disappear. Though you look for them, they will be gone. The lowly will possess the land and will live in peace and prosperity. (Psalms 37:3-11 NLT)

God is not a “vending machine in the sky,” giving everyone the selfish desires of their hearts focused on sin and selfish ends. Rather, God calls us to invite his Holy Spirit into our very bodies, so we would be filled with HIS desires as well as his powers and abilities. This is what New Testament authors are referencing when they exhort the church to pray “in God’s Holy Spirit.”

Distinguishing Between the Spirits

These were some of the verses we considered today in our church service:

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11 NIV)

The part that stood out to me is “distinguishing between spirits.” This verse acknowledges that there are both holy and worldly “spirits” which speak to us in our lives. In our “modern” world, we often discount, ignore, or deny the reality of these spirits and the power they can wield in our lives depending on how we respond to them. This is a mistake. Spiritual gifts are real, and so are “messages from the spirits.”

I pray God would give me discernment to “distinguish between the spirits” which I encounter in my life. I pray God would open my heart and mind to both recognize and heed the voice of His Holy Spirit.

Bearing fruit in all good work

This is a pretty long sentence from the Apostle Paul. The phrase “bearing fruit in every good work” is what stands out to me this morning:

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:9-12 NIV)

I pray God will fill me “…with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.”

Conformed to God’s Image and Spirit

Our sermon verses this Sunday came from Romans 8, and the daily verse in my YouVersion Bible iOS app today does too. This is a verse in the chapter which stood out to me:

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6 NIV)

Our focus in life each day, and even every minute of each day, is very important. The things we focus on and pay attention to with our conscious minds are things our unconscious minds continue to process and turn over. We literally shape our minds and our identities through the things we choose to pay attention to. The things we read, watch, the conversations we have, the notes we write… All of these things shape our minds cognitively but also neuro-biologically. That ‘s a mouthful as well as a lot to consider.

Paul reminds us in these verses to focus on the things of God’s Spirit, rather than the things of the flesh, so we will be conformed to His image and perfect will.

God, help me to focus on the fruits of your spirit this day. I pray you would fill me and those around me with your love, joy, patience, peace, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. I pray you would conform my heart, my spirit, and my mind to yours. Thank you for sending us your son, Jesus, to teach us about your love and your plans for our lives.

In the powerful name of Jesus I pray,

Amen.

We See God’s Holy Spirit in Our Lives

Great reminder from Jesus in these verses in John’s gospel today, as he responded to a question from the Pharisee, Nicodemus:

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8 NIV)

I am reminded that when we look at the ways God is working in our lives and share those stories with others, we bear witness to the reality of God’s Holy Spirit!