11:28 AM Been thinking a lot about prayer these days. I’ve even been writing about the topic for my book Seven Marks of a New Testament Church. Here is an excerpt from the chapter called “Fervent Prayer”:
If a church is to be healthy, it will not happen without this kind of praying. But how is prayer even possible?
The answer is: It is not. Nothing describes the Christian’s weakness and inability like his or her prayer life. Rom. 8:26-27 is highly instructive at this point. Here Paul conceives of prayer as the ministry of the Holy Spirit within us. Implied is the complete inability of the Christian to pray without divine assistance and participation. In a sense, Paul is saying that prayer is ultimately an inter-Trinitarian process: God speaking to God through us. This is a profound truth and a remarkable paradox. I cannot pray unless the Holy Spirit prays; but the Holy Spirit will not pray unless I am praying! Perhaps this is what Paul is alluding to when in Eph 6:18 he says that Christians are to be “praying at all times in the Spirit.” Some exegetes regard this as a reference to praying “in tongues.” But there seems to be little reason to hold this view. Praying in tongues may well be included, but Paul’s language is broad enough to include any kind of prayer we might offer. Paul’s main point is that prayer must cease to be a do-it-yourself activity. It is the Spirit, and the Spirit alone, who activates, empowers, and enables prayer. There is a fine sense of realism in all this. Do not think for a movement that you can pray without the Spirit’s help. Be sensitive to His promptings. When He leads you to pray, pray! There is no alternative means of prayer. The Spirit is the enabler of prayer.
Just now I prayed a prayer like I’ve never prayed before. It’s as if the words were placed on lips by Another. Fervent groanings, you might say. I pray that I would pray like this more often!