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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Matt's Messages "The Holy Spirit Involves Himself In Our Prayers"

“The Holy Spirit Involves Himself In Our Prayers”
The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit
May 11, 2008
Ephesians 2:18, Ephesians 6:18, Romans 8:26-27

For those of you who are visiting today, welcome! We have been studying the Bible’s teachings on the person and ministries of the Holy Spirit.

And that is incredibly appropriate today as today is Pentecost Sunday when the Church has historically celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit to create the New Testament church in Acts chapter 2. We’ve being celebrating Pentecost since February!

But today is also Mother’s Day.

And it’s also designated as the Global Day of Prayer.

So, I had a challenge ahead of me to try to figure how (or if) I could weave these three strands together into one message.

And what I decided to do was to preach on the Holy Spirit and Prayer together and apply that specifically to mothers. So, we’ll get a little bit of all three this morning.

We’ve been talking about the power of the Holy Spirit. We’ve said that He is God’s Empowering Presence. He is a major power living within each Real Christian.

Today, I want to talk about His power at work in our prayers.

Here’s the title: “The Holy Spirit Involves Himself in Our Prayers.”

The Holy Spirit powerfully inserts Himself, He deeply steps into, He dynamically involves Himself in our prayer life.

The indwelling divine dynamo that has been making us holy is dramatically involved in our prayers.


This is how involved He is. If there was no Spirit, there would be no Christian prayer!

Let’s look together at Ephesians chapter 2, verse 18.

This is part of a larger section where the Apostle Paul is teaching on the unity of the church between Jew and Gentile created by the Cross of Jesus Christ.

And in verse 18, He says this: “For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”

Now that’s a short verse, let’s read it again: “For through him [and that’s Christ in this context] we both [Jew and Gentile] have access to the Father by one Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit is Involved in Our Prayers.

We couldn’t pray without Him.

Notice that word “access.” You and I in our sinful, finite, creaturely status should not have access to God!

But we do!

God has made a way for us to access Him. To approach Him. To come to God and to pray.

And that way is Jesus and the Cross. V.18 again.

“For through him [Christ] we both have access to the Father...”

This is the Gospel! Jesus, through His death on the Cross opened up access between us and God.

But notice that little phrase there, almost hidden at the end of the verse in the NIV.

“For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”

If prayer to Father was the Internet, Jesus would be the Access Code, but the Holy Spirit would be the modem.

He isn’t drawing attention to Himself, but He’s being used by Christ to provide us with access to the Father.

Notice, again, the Trinitarian nature of reality! The Trinitarian nature of prayer.

Prayer to the Father, through Son, by the Spirit, Three in One.

The Holy Spirit is Involved in Our Prayers.

And He does it from within.

Do you remember the message on the Spirit adopting us and assuring us of God’s Fatherly love?

Romans 8:15 reminds us, “You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. [You received Him. He’s in you!] And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”

You and I can pray to God and call Him Father because of the enabling power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The application of this is obvious. We should pray!

We need to take advantage of our access.

We need to be thankful that the Spirit, however, He does it [there He goes being mysterious again! We need to be thankful that the Spirit, however He does it...] enables us to pray to the Father.

And we need to do it.

Mommas? You need to pray for your little (or not so little) buckaroos.

Kids? You need to pray for your Mommas (and your Papas, too for that matter).

Keith and Heather, Russell & Kelly, Todd and Heather, I know that you’re already praying for your little ones. Keep it up!

I’ll tell you one thing that I wrote in your kids’ letter. I promised them that you had been praying for them for the last 12 years. Don’t make me a liar! Persevere in prayer for your kids.

And of course, we need to pray for more than just our families! We need to pray for our church family. And our community. And our district. And our region. And our state. And our country. And the world.

And we’re allowed. In fact, we’re invited.

We have access to the Father, because of the Son, by the Spirit.

Notice again (in v.18) the communal aspect of this prayer. This is prayer together, not just on our own. We “both” have access, by “one” Spirit.

The Spirit is One and He invites us to pray as One.

I want to invite all of you to our Wednesday night prayer meetings. We have a one-hour meeting with God from 7 to 8pm. He shows up every week ready to listen.

Because the Holy Spirit Is Involved in Our Prayers.


Turn over a couple of pages to Ephesians chapter 6, verse 18.

The Holy Spirit IS Involved in Our Prayers, but catch what Paul says in verse 18 of chapter 6.

He’s been teaching on the Armor of God and how to fight spiritual battles. And the last weapon is the Walkie-Talkie of Prayer. V.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 saints.”

Now, the Spirit is already involved in our being able to pray. But Paul specifically says that we need to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

Is that a special kind of prayer?

Is that a real mystical kind of prayer? Maybe something that only really spiritual people can do? Is it kind of trance-like or spooky?

Jude in the second to last book of the Bible, says something very similar. He says, “[D]ear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.”

Is that a special kind of prayer?

I don’t think so. I think it just means that we need to involve the Holy Spirit in all of our prayers. Notice that word “all” in verse 18!

We need to remember that it’s the Spirit’s power that enables all these prayers.

We do it, in His power, in dependance on His indwelling potency.

And it also means to pray from the heart, a heart that is growing in holiness.

Wayne Grudem says it this way, “To pray ‘in the Holy Spirit,’ then, is to pray with the conscious awareness of God’s presence surrounding us and sanctifying both us and our prayers” (Systematic Theology, pg. 382).

That’s good! That’s helpful.

J.I. Packer adds this, “The Spirit leads the believer to concentrate on God and his glory in Christ with a sustained, singleminded simplicity of attention and intensity of desire that no one ever knows save as it is supernaturally wrought” (Keep In Step with the Spirit, pg. 79).

Have you experienced that in your prayers?

I admit to NOT having experienced that ENOUGH in my prayers.

This was very convicting for me to study this week.

I don’t involve the Spirit enough in my prayers.

What am I trying to do? Pray “in the flesh?”

The application is obvious. We just do what verse 18 says to do.

“[P]ray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying [in the Spirit!] for all the saints.”

Blair and I were talking this last week about prayer. And we talked about the phrase, “praying through.” Have you heard that phrase?

I’m not sure what all of the connotations are for that phrase, but I think the general idea is a good one.

I’ve heard another statement, and that is “Pray until you’ve prayed.”

And we need to do that in deliberate dependance on the power and holiness of the Holy Spirit.

I’ve found that that kind of prayer comes the most often for me when I’m (or someone I love) is in trouble.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons why we get in trouble. God wants us to really pray!

One of my professors in a class I had on prayer once said, “Unanswered prayer may be God’s way of staying in touch with you.” He wants you to keep coming to Him.

We Need to Involve the Spirit In Our Prayers.

Part of this is that the Spirit often leads us into what we should pray for.

Have you had that kind of an experience?

You are praying for one thing, and then the Spirit seems to spontaneously bring to mind someone or something else and nudges you to pray for that?

At the Ladies’ Spring Banquet last month, Heather told the story of her being led to pray that I would choose the correct kind of postage to place on an envelope!

She’s never prayed for postage before and she never has prayed for postage since!

But the Spirit led her to do that then, and it was one of the things, humanly speaking that brought us here to Lanse.

That kind of thing doesn’t happen to us every day, and it’s not the main point, but it is the work of the Holy Spirit. V.18 again.

“[P]ray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying [in the Spirit!] for all the saints.”

Notice again the reference to community. “Always keep on praying for all the saints.”

We need to pray for each other. I’m happy to pray for Katelyn, Hayley, and Keagan and their parents today.

But we all need to keep on praying for each other. I’m so thankful for your prayers. I know that many of you pray for us, and I am deep grateful.

But what if you don’t know what to pray?

Have you had that experience? I’ll bet 100% of us have.

What if you don’t know what to pray?

#3 (of 3). THE HOLY SPIRIT INTERCEDES WHEN WE DON’T KNOW WHAT TO PRAY. Turn back to Romans chapter 8, verses 26 and 27. Pew Bible Page #1119.

This is the ultimate in involvement!

He doesn’t just make prayer possible.
He doesn’t just insert Himself in our prayers and guide us into better prayers.
He takes over when we can’t seem to do it for ourselves.

Romans 8:26.

This is part of the “Great 8;” Romans chapter 8 is one of the greatest chapters in the whole Bible. And Paul has just gotten done saying that the Creation groans like in childbirth (there’s another Mother’s Day reference for you!), and that we groan, even though we’re God’s children, because the world isn’t what it’s supposed to be, and we’re not what we’re supposed to be YET. But as we groan (and how we often feel it!), we wait patiently. And we pray. We have prayer lives. V.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 with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.”

Now, this might apply to all of our prayers. We don’t know how to pray right. And we aren’t right enough to know how to pray.

But I think that specifically here, Paul is talking about those times when we just don’t know what to say to God. We are weak. We are experiencing the difficulties of living in a groaning world.

We are weak. But He is strong!

“The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

Now, it’s possible that the groans here are our groans. Some of the best scholars think that these are our groans that the Spirit then translates to the Father.

But I think that the groans are the Spirit’s groans!

The creation groans, the Church groans, and identifying with us and interceding for us, the Spirit groans, too.

And with divine communication that words cannot express.

Wow! Think about that for a second.

This is how much God loves us.

His very own Spirit prays for us. He appeals to God for us.

He translates our prayers, feeble and weak and ignorant as they are, into the very right thing to say to God!

And look at verse 27 again. It’s very encouraging.

“And he who searches our hearts [the Father] knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.”

I think that this is the corollary truth to what we saw before in 1 Corinthians 2.

Remember when I asked Mark DeLuca what city he was thinking about?

And I said that it was Columbus, Ohio, but it wasn’t because I didn’t have access to his spirit?

But he knew what city he was thinking of because his spirit knew what he was thinking!

And the Spirit knows God’s thoughts.

Well, this says that God knows our thoughts because His Spirit lives in us and intercedes for us in accordance with His will.

Of course, God is omniscient so He can know our thoughts anyway!

But still, He sends His Spirit to intercede for us so that He knows what we need!


Why wouldn’t we pray?

And here’s how effective those prayers are. Look at verse 28.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

These prayers are effectual. They are used of God to work all things, every circumstance, every painful trial, every blessing, every difficult thing to our good.

To all Real Christians. To those who love God and who have been called according to His purpose to belong to Jesus.

Does that describe you? Do you love God through Jesus?

If you do, then this unbelievably powerful Spirit lives inside you and is powerfully involved in your prayers.

He makes them possible.
We should pray in Him.
And He intercedes for us when we don’t know what to pray.

The application of all of this is obvious, but it still needs said.

We should pray.

And we should pray.

And we should pray.

Because of the Holy Spirit.

My prayer is that Katelyn, Hayley, and Keagan would grow up in a family and in a church that prays in the Holy Spirit.

Let’s do it right now.