Your Ultimate Prayer Partners

Your Ultimate Prayer Partners

…We do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. – Romans 8:26, NRSV

The end of Romans 8 is so rich that one could spend hours contemplating the truths there and still not reach the end. It is encouraging to know that when we are in prayer we never pray alone, for the ultimate partners in intercession are with us. With just a cursory glance we see the Holy Spirit involved in our prayers in five ways (Romans 8:26-27):

1. The Spirit helps us in our weakness

2. The Spirit intercedes when we do not know what we ought to pray for.

3. The Spirit prays with sighs too deep for words.

4. The Spirit and the Father are in sync with one another.

5. The Spirit intercedes in accordance with God’s will.

Each of those principles deserves much consideration, but they demonstrate the reason our prayers are so powerful: it is not our own spirituality but the participation of the Father and the Holy Spirit in our season of prayer. It is by the presence and power of the Spirit that we cry out to our Abba (Rom 8:15-16). Even more, we read in verse 34, “It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.”

The Father, Son, and Spirit are intertwined in your prayers in such a way that we are ultimately confident that our prayers are much more powerful than we can imagine. They are much more in tune with God’s will than we know. They are in process of being answered as we utter the words.

This is why Romans 8:28 is truer than we realize. Never separate that verse from prayer! Your prayers matter because your ultimate prayer partners are tirelessly enmeshed into the eternal providence and power of God! Never be intimidated by prayer! It unlocks a Divine partnership!     

Thanks for reading, JD

Most Important Question of Bible Study

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There are a lot of important questions when studying the Bible. I don’t mean to negate these at all. Context is so meaningful that one would be foolish to disregard it. What did it mean to the original audience? That’s our first real clue to the meaning for today. Use your study tools such as concordances, commentaries, word studies, dictionaries, and whatever you can get your hands on. These tools will help us answer the most important question in Bible study, but are not always essential. What is the most important question in Bible study?

What is the Holy Spirit teaching you today?

That’s it.  You can dig into the Greek and learn a lot, but if you do not see what God wants you to see for your life today then you have wasted your time.

I belong to a religious tradition that overplays study and downplays Holy Spirit influence. I appreciate the emphasis on putting the work into Bible study and reaching reasonable conclusions. That perspective keeps us from thinking that every hunch is a message from God. But an unintended consequence may teach us to rely on our own intelligence beyond what God may desire to show us in our hearts.

The Holy Spirit indwells every Christian. The Scriptures teach that the Spirit of God lives within us. I do not believe he is there to take up space nor to just be a witness to our salvation. I listen to Jesus talk to the disciples and I know that He is One who comforts and One who convicts.

The Holy Spirit speaks to every Christian. How does the Holy Spirit speak to you?  I’m not suggesting that there will be a whisper in the ear so much as I’m believing that God can communicate to us in any way He desires. I’ll leave that to Him. Among the ways that we might consider, there is no more certain and sure manner of communication than the teaching of the Word of God. It has been preserved for us for centuries for a reason… and by a certain power!

The Holy Spirit reveals your sin. The Word is a mirror but not a magic mirror. It doesn’t tell us what we want to hear. It tells us the truth – which isn’t always pretty. As we study the Bible we should be acutely aware of our own sin… the shortcomings of our journey … the intentional and unintentional ways we fall short of His glory … the undone will of God in our daily lives. If you are reading the Bible and are not convicted by your own failure, you’re not listening.

The Holy Spirit will only communicate the truth. If you are reading the Bible and come away convinced that you are awesome because you’re so good, you are listening to another spirit. You need to test the spirits because our own pride can insert into the Scriptures a message of complete acceptance of our own sinful habits and self-produced problems. When our reading of the Bible excuses away our sin – which we all have – we are not hearing from the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit will reveal grace. The purpose of knowing our sin and being sensitive to it is so that we can understand grace. Until you know the truth about your sin you can never know grace. What tears of joy can flow when we are afflicted by the pain of our failings followed by the beauty of forgiveness and mercy. God shows us our sin but does not want us to stay there. He desires us to know the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus – not just in an academic sense but in a very personal sense.

When we study the Bible we are not just exercising a discipline, we are hearing from the Holy Spirit. We are not just hearing about an  ancient circumstance but a contemporary outreach of God into our lives.

Before opening your Bible pray and ask God to reveal to you what you need to know today. Exercise discernment. The more you study and get to know God you will realize He will never teach you something different from His word. I know we are afraid God might ask us to do something crazy … but I think we are more afraid to recognize that God knows our hearts. He is very aware of the bruises and pains that need healing … the ones that have caused us to neglect Him. So just enter His presence with ears and hearts open.

His most likely message might be …

I forgive you.

I can help you.

I love you.

Thanks for reading.

Quench Not the Spirit

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It is the ultimate duty of every Christian to yield themselves fully to the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit. I know that various believers interpret that power and working in different ways. But whatever it means to you, I do think that we will spend our lives learning to yield. Perhaps even being blind to the areas where we have refused to yield.

Refused to yield? That sounds rather stubborn and rebellious. Yes, it does. It is. I confess it. To fail to follow God’s leading is to say to God that you know better and He will be assured of this when you have followed your own path for a while. Then we wake up in the pig pen and wonder why our rebellious road led us there.

1 Thessalonians 5:19 says”Quench not the Spirit” (ASV). The HCSB says, “Don’t stifle the Spirit.” The  Amplified Bible elaborates, “Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit...” An associated idea could be Ephesians 4:30, “And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit...”

I wish that Apostle Paul had elaborated further upon this terse command. Perhaps only God can reveal to us the ways that we have stifled His Spirit in our lives.

Have we resisted the urge to pray for someone or at certain times?

Have we insisted on our rights to the detriment of others who may be struggling?

Have we said to the lost world that even though the Spirit is convicting them of sin we have no interest in befriending and teaching them?

Are we falling short in living lives characterized by love?

Do we spend more time in misery than we do joy?

Are we in inner turmoil and distress rather than a peace that passes understanding?

Does anger rule our personality while patience is in short supply?

Do we feel it is acceptable to be rude online, or in person, when someone has failed to show kindness to us?

Have we bought into the lies of the media and our culture and regarded goodness as weakness? Faith as ignorance? Gentleness as an invitation to be taken advantage of?

Is self-control a matter of wishful thinking?

In Galatians 5:22 we find these ‘fruit of the Spirit’ listed. They remind us that we have a lot more yielding to do. We can make self-assured statements about being saved and sanctified but if we are not yielding in these areas we remain a people who quench the Spirit.

Galatians 5:25 Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit.

I encourage you to pray about areas that you may be quenching the Spirit and begin to let go of your resistance. Your most persistent sins are the areas to start with. They are security blankets provided by the Enemy. Replace them with the truth of the Spirit and see how He begins to move and operate in ways that you previously thought unlikely.

I liked THIS POST about some ways we quench the Spirit.

Thanks for reading,

John

Spirit, Help My Weakness

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By Cecil May III

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. ~Romans 8:26

Help my weakness of virtue. A primary weakness that we notice about ourselves is our moral weakness, our weakness in the face of temptation. Jesus noted that, like when we want to stay awake but drift into sleep anyway, we are susceptible to the weakness of our fleshly cravings. “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mt. 26:41). May the Spirit help us when we are tempted to sin.

Help my weakness in hope. In the context of Romans 8, in which the teaching “the Spirit helps us in our weakness” appears, the immediate subject matter is doubt because of present difficulty. When sufferings of the moment create a fog that limits visibility of our glorious future, we are in danger of losing hope. May the Spirit help us hope in patience. (Rom. 8:25).

Help my weakness of zeal and joy. Discouragement damages our zeal and zaps our joy. “Let us not grow weary of doing good.” (Gal. 6:9). Yes, but sometimes we get tired and lackluster anyway. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22). May the Spirit help “lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees.” (Heb. 12:12).

Help my weakness of faith. When we are weak in faith, we start walking by sight. (2 Cor. 5:7). When we walk by sight, what we see eventually frightens us. Remember Peter who walked with Jesus on water. “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out.” (Mt. 14:30). When circumstances cause you to fear, may the Spirit help strengthen your faith.

When our virtue fails, when our hope fogs, when our zeal and joy flags, when our faith falters, so that we do not know what to do, what to say, or even what to pray, at least we know to whom to go – or better yet, who will come. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Rom. 12:26).

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Cecil May, III is the longtime minister and elder serving the Parkway Church of Christ in Fulton, KY.