If our prayers are going to be fragrant to God, they must have the sweet incense of the Spirit breathed into them. It is the prayer that the Spirit inspires that reaches the ear of God.
Have you ever prayed a stiff, formal prayer? I think all of us, at one time or another have done that. We recite words to God as if it is a task to be checked off. Then we go on our way, satisfied that we have done our "duty." We may have gone over this same practice so much that even we are tired of hearing it.
Every prayer would be a new prayer if we prayed in the Spirit. This is the prayer that God answers. This is not to say we should not be persistent in prayer, because God calls us to do that. (Luke 8:1-8; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Luke 11:5-10)
(I want to make it clear that this article is not about "speaking in tongues." It is about allowing the Spirit of God to guide and lead and fill us as we pray.)
We are as ignorant of true prayer as the disciple who said, "Lord, teach us to pray." We don't know how to pray, but the Spirit will teach us and help us. When the Spirit in our heart talks to God, the answer is certain to follow.
We build our faith by "praying in the Holy Spirit." But we must depend on him and acknowledge our need of him.
We have prayed so many times we think we know just how to pray. So we go ahead, but the answer does not come. Ephesians 6:18 teaches us that effective prayer is made only in the Spirit. "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests." These are not formal, lifeless, insincere prayers.
It is only when the Spirit comes into our hearts that we can cry, "Abba, Father."
- We can call God Father only by the Holy Spirit.
- It is the Holy Spirit that draws us to God in prayer.
- He fills the heart with longing for God.
- Those who live in the Spirit find no difficulty in prayer.
- The Holy Spirit gives us power in prayer.
- It is the Spirit that keeps us in a frame of mind that makes prayer delightful.
- He gives us a keen appetite for conversation with God and makes prayer enjoyable.
- To those who are filled with the Spirit no hour is so sacred and so heavenly sweet as the hour of prayer.
He will do all he can to hinder the children of God in their prayers. He will tell them that they have no time for prayer. But the Christian must make prayer a priority. This temptation to leave off prayer because of not having time is a cunning device of the enemy of prayer.
Satan endeavors to get us hurried in our prayers. This is something I personally battle. But when praying in the Spirit, we should not be hurried, but pray in calmness and deliberation. Let's compare this to eating. When we eat slowly, we get the full benefit and taste of the food. The same applies to prayer. Take time to pray and take time in prayer. The Spirit of God will not lead us hurriedly, and if we get in a hurry, we will get ahead of the Spirit.
The whole of the Christian experience is to be filled with the Spirit. It is God living inside of us - imagine that! We are to worship God in Spirit and in truth. Our bodies are to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is he who is to teach us and to guide us. It is he who anoints us that we may know God and the things of God. We get no true conception of God except by the Holy Spirit.
However, as it is written:
"What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived" - the things God has prepared for those who love him - these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)
How dependent we are on him!
- We cannot pray right without him.
- We cannot understand the truth of God without him.
- We cannot know God without him.
- We cannot love God without him.
- We cannot have peace in the soul without him.
- We can never get to heaven without him.
Then, let us be careful never to grieve him nor quench him. A true, sincere Christian is one whose life is powerfully under the Holy Spirit's influence.
- Let us do nothing that he would not have us do and let us do promptly all that he would have us do.
- Let us honor him.
- Let us look to him for guidance and for help.
- Let us acknowledge our dependence on him and seek his aid in prayer.
- Let us have our whole life under his influence.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
From Odors from Golden Vials
By Charles Ebert Orr
Published in 1912
Edited and adapted in more modern language with personal experience added.