For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God.
Praying in the Spirit
Then Peter answered,. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. Otherwise if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the "Amen" at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying?
For you are giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not edified. I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all;. In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Sometimes we have so much to say to God that we tell him everything that is on our mind without any sense of shame for our sin or any conscious reliance on the Person and work of Christ.
We pour out our heart without kneeling at the cross.
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Yes, the whole Word of God is of use in directing our prayers. By instruction and example it shows us how to pray for a vast array of subjects. We are cold and listless.
We have no fervour. We have no faith. We have no energy. We know that there is no chance of us praying with importunity. Their emotions are engaged Ps. Sometimes when we come to pray, we simply do not know what we should pray for. Nothing comes to mind. Despite our knowledge of what the Scriptures teach about prayer, we find ourselves completely at a loss. Phillips , but which impel the heart in a God-ward direction, and which become unspoken prayers in line with the will of God Rom.
It is praying from the heart, with fervour, faith and importunity. And it is more than words. There is a consciousness of inner constraint. The desires of the heart are being moved in a particular direction. Something is happening deep down inside me which is too wonderful to fully describe. Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God hath promised, or according to the Word, for the good of the church, with submission, in faith, to the will of God.
In this description are these seven things. First, It is a sincere; Second, A sensible; Third, An affectionate, pouring out of the soul to God, through Christ; Fourth, By the strength or assistance of the Spirit; Fifth, For such things as God hath promised, or, according to his word; Sixth, For the good of the church; Seventh, With submission in faith to the will of God. Sincerity is such a grace as runs through all the graces of God in us, and through all the actings of a Christian, and hath the sway in them too, or else their actings are not any thing regarded of God, and so of and in prayer, of which particularly David speaks, when he mentions prayer.
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear" my prayer Psa , Part of the exercise of prayer is sincerity, without which God looks not upon it as prayer in a good sense Psa Then "ye shall seek me and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart" Jer The want of this made the Lord reject their prayers in Hosea , where he saith, "They have not cried unto me with their heart," that is, in sincerity, "when they howled upon their beds.
Sincerity was that which Christ commended in Nathaniel, when he was under the fig tree. The prayer that hath this in it as one of the principal ingredients, is the prayer that God looks at. Thus, "The prayer of the upright is his delight" Prov And why must sincerity be one of the essentials of prayer which is accepted of God, but because sincerity carries the soul in all simplicity to open its heart to God, and to tell him the case plainly, without equivocation; to condemn itself plainly, without dissembling; to cry to God heartily, without complimenting.
Sincerity is the same in a corner alone, as it is before the face of the world. It knows not how to wear two vizards, one for an appearance before men, and another for a short snatch in a corner; but it must have God, and be with him in the duty of prayer.
It is not lip-labour that it doth regard, for it is the heart that God looks at, and that which sincerity looks at, and that which prayer comes from, if it be that prayer which is accompanied with sincerity. It is not, as many take it to be, even a few babbling, prating, complimentary expressions, but a sensible feeling there is in the heart.
A sense of the want of mercy, by reason of the danger of sin. The soul, I say, feels, and from feeling sighs, groans, and breaks at the heart. For right prayer bubbleth out of the heart when it is overpressed with grief and bitterness, as blood is forced out of the flesh by reason of some heavy burden that lieth upon it I Sam ; Psa Hezekiah mourns like a dove Isa Ephraim bemoans himself Jer Peter weeps bitterly Matt Christ hath strong cryings and tears Heb And all this from a sense of the justice of God, the guilt of sin, the pains of hell and destruction.
And in another place, "My sore ran in the night" Psa Again, "I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long" Psa In all these instances, and in hundreds more that might be named, you may see that prayer carrieth in it a sensible feeling disposition, and that first from a sense of sin. Thus David pours out his soul, to bless, and praise, and admire the great God for his loving- kindness to such poor vile wretches.
Christian Prayers to the Holy Spirit for a Favor
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. And thus is the prayer of saints sometimes turned into praise and thanksgiving, and yet are prayers still.
This is a mystery; God's people pray with their praises, as it is written, "Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer, and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God" Phil A sensible thanksgiving, for mercies received, is a mighty prayer in the sight of God; it prevails with him unspeakably.
In prayer there is sometimes in the soul a sense of mercy to be received. This again sets the soul all on a flame. This provoked Jacob, David, Daniel, with others—even a sense of mercies to be received—which caused them, not by fits and starts, nor yet in a foolish frothy way, to babble over a few words written in a paper; but mightily, fervently, and continually, to groan out their conditions before the Lord, as being sensible, sensible, I say, of their wants, their misery, and the willingness of God to show mercy Gen ,11; Dan ,4.
A good sense of sin, and the wrath of God, with some encouragement from God to come unto him, is a better Common-prayer-book than that which is taken out of the Papistical mass-book, being the scraps and fragments of the devices of some popes, some friars, and I wot not what.
What Is Praying in the Spirit?
O what affection is here discovered in prayer! The like you have in Daniel. Every syllable carrieth a mighty vehemency in it. This is called the fervent, or the working prayer, by James. And so again, "And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly" Luke Or had his affections more and more drawn out after God for his helping hand. The greatest part of men make no conscience at all of the duty; and as for them that do, it is to be feared that many of them are very great strangers to a sincere, sensible, and affectionate pouring out their hearts or souls to God; but even content themselves with a little lip-labour and bodily exercise, mumbling over a few imaginary prayers.
When the affections are indeed engaged in prayer, then, then the whole man is engaged, and that in such sort, that the soul will spend itself to nothing, as it were, rather than it will go without that good desired, even communion and solace with Christ. And hence it is that the saints have spent their strengths, and lost their lives, rather than go without the blessing Psa ; ,10; Gen , All this is too, too evident by the ignorance, profaneness, and spirit of envy, that reign in the hearts of those men that are so hot for the forms, and not the power of praying.
Scarce one of forty among them know what it is to be born again, to have communion with the Father through the Son; to feel the power of grace sanctifying their hearts: but for all their prayers, they still live cursed, drunken, whorish, and abominable lives, full of malice, envy, deceit, persecuting of the dear children of God. O what a dreadful after-clap is coming upon them! Again, It is a pouring out of the heart or soul. There is in prayer an unbosoming of a man's self, an opening of the heart to God, an affectionate pouring out of the soul in requests, sighs, and groans.
And again, "My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me" Psa ,4. Mark, "I pour out my soul. As in another place, "Trust in him at all times; ye people, - pour out your heart before him" Psa This is the prayer to which the promise is made, for the delivering of a poor creature out of captivity and thralldom. This showeth also the excellency of the spirit of prayer. It is the great God to which it retires. Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape; incline thine ear to me, and save me.
Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: - for thou art my rock and my fortress; deliver me, O my God, - out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man. For thou art my hope, O Lord God, thou art my trust from my youth" Psa Many in a wording way speak of God; but right prayer makes God his hope, stay, and all. Right prayer sees nothing substantial, and worth the looking after, but God. And that, as I said before, it doth in a sincere, sensible, and affectionate way.