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From the Fall 2004 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

Praying In The Spirit

by J. Oswald Sanders
Reprinted by permission from his book Prayer Power Unlimited

n the previous lessons in the school of prayer we analyzed the various elements in prayer, reviewed the prayer life of the Master Teacher, showed the place the promises of God play in prayer, and considered two of the conditions of answered prayer. We now come to the extremely important lesson of the part played by the Holy Spirit in the prayer life of the disciple of Christ.
  “True prayer,” wrote Samuel M. Zwemer, “is God the Holy Spirit talking to God the Father in the name of God the Son, and the believer’s heart is the prayerroom.”
  There is scriptural warrant for asserting that our chronic disinclination and reluctance to pray, as well as our ignorance of how to pray aright, find their complete answer in the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Hence Paul’s injunction, “Pray at all times in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18).
  The Holy Spirit is the Source and Sustainer of our spiritual life. “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). Since prayer is represented in Scripture as an essential factor in progress in the Christian life, it is not surprising to find that the Spirit of God is deeply involved in this sphere.

The Spirit and the Word

  It hardly need be said that to pray in the Spirit means to pray in harmony with the Word of God, which He has inspired. He does not speak with two voices. He will never move us to pray for something that is not sanctioned by Scripture.
  “There is an inseparable union between the Spirit, the Word and prayer,” writes H. W. Frost, “which indicates that the Spirit will always lead the saint to make much of the Word, and especially God’s promises in the Word. ...This explains the fact that the great prayers have always been great students of the Word. “
  It naturally follows that praying in the Spirit means to pray in harmony with the will of God. Being God Himself, the Spirit knows and can interpret God’s will to us. Indeed, this is one of the very reasons why He has been given to the Church. “He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:27). We can therefore count on Him to enable us to pray in harmony with the will of God.
  Prayer in the Spirit is prayer whose supreme object is the glory of God, and only in a secondary sense is it a blessing for ourselves or for others. This is not natural to us, for it is our natural tendency to be more concerned with our own interests and glory. The Holy Spirit will help us in this weakness, and will impart the motivation to shift our center from self to God.
  Samuel Chadwick points out that the Holy Spirit never works alone—it is always in cooperation with men. “He depends upon human cooperation for the mediation of His mind, the manifestation of His truth, and the effectual working of His will.... We pray in the Spirit, and the Spirit maketh intercession for us.”

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