He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:17-18)
With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones. (Ephesians 6:18)
Do not quench the Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:19)
The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (Romans 8:16)
In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will (Romans 8:26-27)
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? (1 Corinthians 3:16)
The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5:5)
I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. (John 16:12,13)
Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
“Do you pray in the Spirit?” If someone were to ask you this question, how would you answer it? Perhaps, you would avoid answering by saying: “What is your definition of praying in the Spirit?” However, rather than trying to come up with a definition, perhaps, the best answer is: “Of course I do. I couldn’t pray without the help of the Holy Spirit.” This truth is why in so many of St. Paul’s letters, he speaks of the importance of praying in the Spirit. He tells us that we “have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18); to “pray at every opportunity in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18); and not to “quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19), for it is the Spirit that “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16).
If as Paul wrote, “we do not know how to pray as we ought” (Romans 8:26), how can we ever hope to reach God’s ear without the Spirit? Paul himself gives the answer: The Spirit intercedes for us “with inexpressible groanings … according to God’s will” (8:26,27). It is the Spirit—the life and power of God active within us through Baptism—who leads us in prayer.
It is no coincidence that this teaching on prayer in Romans comes in the middle of this letter, a letter devoted to the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection. As in all other things, Jesus is our model for prayer, and his cross is the source of our prayer. Just as Jesus put aside his own will, even his own life, and relied fully on his Father’s will, the same applies to us. Prayer that touches the Father’s heart is prayer that puts aside our own ideas and presuppositions, so that we can learn to pray in a new and more powerful way “in the Spirit.”
Do you know that “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you” (1 Corinthians 3:16)? Can you trust that many of your desires to love God, pray for people’s healing and conversion, and offer forgiveness come from God himself through the Spirit he has given you (Romans 5:5)? Before Jesus left the world, he promised he would send his Holy Spirit to guide us “in all truth” (John 16:12), speak to us, and prompt us on a level that far surpasses human words.
Even when we feel out of touch with the Holy Spirit, that doesn’t mean he has left us. It only means that we need to reach out to him. Look for ways that he may be prompting you to pray, to worship, and to intercede beyond what you might normally do on your own.
How do we pray in the Spirit? Try this approach when you pray and see what happens:
- Begin by asking Jesus to give you a fresh infilling of his Holy Spirit.
- Ask the Spirit to give you a deeper love for God, and a deeper knowledge and experience of his love that goes beyond the power of words to express.
- Quiet your mind and let it rest on a passage from Scripture.
- Ask the Spirit to deepen your understanding of what the Lord wants to speak to you through the Scriptures.
- Say yes to what you believe the Lord is saying to you.
- Finally, respond to what you are hearing with words of thanksgiving and praise.
As you place your trust more and more in the work of the Holy Spirit in your life, you will come to realize that he has far more glorious plans for you than you could ever “ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20-21).
“Lord Jesus, come and fill me afresh with your Spirit. Holy Spirit, open my heart when I pray, so that God’s love and mercy might penetrate the depths of my soul. Teach me to pray in a way that enkindles in my heart a desire that the Father’s will be done in my life, in the life of my family, and in the life of your church.”
Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing me to adapt meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. Take some time to meditate and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do you think God is trying to reveal to you through them?
2. How would you answer the question that is posed in the article: “Do you pray in the Spirit?”
3. St. Paul tells us in Romans 8:26 that “we do not know how to pray as we ought.” What do you do when this happens to you?
4. The article goes on to tell us that “Jesus is our model for prayer.” In what ways is he the model for your prayer?
5. We are told In 1 Corinthians 3:16, Romans 5:5, and John 16:12 that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, that the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will guide us in all truth. What are some examples from your own life of the reality of these Scriptures?
6. The article ends with an approach we can use to “pray in the Spirit.” Try experimenting with this approach in the next few weeks. What do you expect will happen as you do? If you are in a men’s group, share the results at your next meeting.
7. Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit and a deeper experience of what it means to pray in the Spirit. Use the prayer at the end of the article as the starting point.