Discipline of Prayer
The Discipline of Prayer is the intimate pursuit and practice of the personal communication we have available between God and us. It is the spoken and unspoken confession of our Christian faith by engaging and proclaiming our complete dependence upon Christ as Lord over our lives. Prayer is not just a selfish wish list to get God to cater to our needs and whims; rather, it’s true purpose and the reason it is also a discipline is to shape us by what He has revealed, and to grow in faith, character, perseverance, and maturity. Prayer is meant to line us up in Christ and to conform us to Him, so it builds us up in Him. It makes us willing and able to express praise, worship, seek forgiveness from God, become more sensitive, confess sins, make petitions for one another, and help others to be shaped, too.
Prayer is a difficult discipline we must learn until it becomes second nature. The goal is to become people who pray constantly, “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We must learn to pray, and to do so we must overcome certain sources of spiritual inertia fighting against us.
“From birth we have been learning the rules of self-reliance as we strain and struggle to achieve self-sufficiency. Prayer flies in the face of those deep-seated values.”
Not only is prayer neglected because of self-reliance but also for lack of time, lack of attention, lack of priority and because of any number of excuses that keep us from the throne of God.
When it comes to the topic of prayer many questions come rushing to our minds. What should I pray about? Do I ever bother God with my thoughts? Do I need to pray on my knees in order for God to hear me? Why should I pray? What is prayer? The thoughts boggle our minds to the point of intimidation, which often times results in prayerlessness.
Praying in the Holy Spirit
Praying in the Spirit means that the Spirit empowers the prayer and carries it to the Father in the name of Jesus. The prayer has a living quality characterized by warmth and freedom and a sense of exchange. We realize that we are in God’s presence speaking to God. The Spirit illuminates your mind, moves your heart, and grants a freedom of utterance and liberty of expression.It is helpful to acknowledge that there are varying degrees of experience when it comes to praying in the Spirit. It does not feel like revival every time we pray in the Spirit. There are varying experiences of feeling carried along or pushed forward. Sometimes praying in the Spirit will not feel electrifying at all. It will feel like groaning. The Spirit helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us according to the will of God (Romans 8:26–27).
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.
Praying in the Spirit does not refer to the words we are saying. Rather, it refers to how we are praying. Praying in the Spirit is praying according to the Spirit’s leading. It is praying for things the Spirit leads us to pray for. Romans 8:26 tells us, “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.”
Cooperating with the Holy Spirit
When Joshua was faced with an impassible barrier, the floodwaters of the Jordan River receded only after the leaders stepped into the rushing current in obedience and faith. Obedience unlocks God’s power.God waits for you to act first. Don’t wait to feel powerful or confident. Move ahead in your weakness, doing the right thing in spite of your fears and feelings. This is how you cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and it is how your character develops.
Fervent prayer is motivated by love and deep concern and is offered with enthusiasm, feeling, and faith. This is not a casual listing of requests, but prayer that flows from the heart over a pressing need. For example, when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was in agony and “praying very fervently” (Luke 22:44). It’s also persistent prayer that doesn’t stop asking, seeking, and knocking until God answers (Matt. 7:7).
Chapter 5 Questions
Pg 47: What does it mean / how does it look to have a disciplined prayer life ?
Pg 48-49: How do we pray in the Spirit ? Discuss new insights from the book or the notes.
Pg 49: What is fervent prayer ?
Pg 50: Discuss the steps in cooperating with the Holy Spirit to develop fervency and
Pg 51: Discuss what the author wrote about on this page…… “to dwell not only on things that were true, but also lovely and even worthy of praise.”