|Ephesians 6:18 |
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,2 and watching in this with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. [Teach us what we shall say to Him, for we cannot order our speech by reason of darkness. Job 37:19. If you believe what you have heard the Lord tell you to pray then you will receive what you ask in prayer, as John carefully states: "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him." 1 John 5:14-15. Unless you have crucified your sinful nature, to receive his Spirit in sufficient measure to reveal His will, you have no idea what His will is. This is why the vast majority of prayers, made in the carnal minds of beginning believers, are never answered. When we can do His will, we hear what to pray from Him, and we know for sure such prayers are heard and will be granted. A true Christian is crucified and purified by the grace of God, able to do God's will on earth as it is done in heaven; that is a true Christian's sole purpose: to pray, to speak, and to act as God directs, thus to bring pleasure, honor, and glory to God. From the Word of the Lord within: "Pray only as you are told. If told what to pray for, they can be extremely effective; to pray as heard — righteous expectation." ]
2 Praying always with all prayer in the spirit — but only if in the spirit. Prayers from your carnal mind are an abomination to God. Prayers from the Spirit, are prayers with words that you hear supplied by the Spirit of God within you. Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities for we do not know what we should pray for as we should, but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Rom 8:26. Teach us what we shall say to Him, for we cannot order our speech by reason of darkness. Job 37:19. A true Christian is crucified and purified by the grace of God, able to do God's will on earth as it is done in heaven; that is a true Christian's sole purpose —to pray, to speak, and to act as God directs them according to His will. When you can truly pray in the Spirit, all words must come from the Spirit, as Isaac Penington describes:
"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit." Eph 6:18. Mark all prayer and supplication must be in the Spirit; yes, it must be always in the Spirit, which speaks in the heart to God, and makes the intercession, or it is no prayer. If a man speaks ever so much from his own spirit, with ever so much earnestness and affection, yet it is no prayer, no true prayer, but only so far as the Spirit moves to it, and so far as the Spirit leads and guides in it. If a man begins without the Spirit, or goes on without the Spirit, this is out of the worship; this is in his own will, and so will-worship; and according to his own understanding, and so fleshly worship; both which are to be crucified, and not to be followed in anything under the gospel. "We are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit," (here are the true worshippers, "the circumcision;" and here is the true worship, "in the Spirit;" and they have no bounds and limits in the flesh, in which their strength and confidence are broken), "and have no confidence in the flesh." If a man address himself to any worship of God without his Spirit, does he not have confidence in the flesh? If he begins without the moving of his Spirit, does he not begin in the flesh? If he goes on, without the Spirit's carrying on, does he not proceed in the strength and confidence of the flesh? But the worship of the Spirit is in its will, and in its time, and is carried on by its light and power, and keeps down the understanding and affectionate part of man, in which all the world worship, and offer up the unaccepted sacrifices, even the lame and the blind,* which God's soul hates.
*[In the Old Testament, God would not allow the lame and blind to approach the altar; the restriction is an allegory to God's repulsion of being worshipped by those who cannot see by his light and walk by his spirit; the spiritually lame and blind who walk according to their imagination and pray and worship from their carnal minds in will-worship are an abomination.]
In addition, George Fox wrote in his letter, An Epistle to All the People on the Earth, the following:
And said the apostle, build up yourselves in the most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost. [Mark,] The building up is in that which is holy, in the holy faith, and the praying in the Holy Ghost. Now he speaks of some: that speak high swelling words, but themselves living in the hypocrisy, and were gone into the ways of Cain and Balaam, and are they that must know a time of silence; for such build not among the saints, for they are Babylon's stones. So all these high speakers which speak the words of the scriptures, but not from the Holy Ghost that gave them forth, they are out of that Spirit in which the saints pray; and so those, who pray out of the Holy Spirit, are an abomination; they are to be silent.
There is an exception heard from the Lord by a reader of this site, as loud as someone standing next to him, and there is scripture to prove it: "I only hear a prayer of a righteous man and a prayer of a sinner who comes to repent." God does not hear sinners, John 9:31; God does not hear sinners complacent in their sins, who are not striving to repent and turn from their evil ways. But if a sinner goes to God in humility, and asks for his help to become free from evil, or even asks God to show him if there is anything standing between them, then God will certainly hear and answer. For he would have us all to be free from sin to enter his kingdom, and for that purpose Jesus stands ready to redeem us from all iniquity and purify us, to produce the fruit of the spirit, thus to bring glory to the father; for by your producing much fruit, my Father is honored and glorified, and you show that you are truly my disciples [true followers]. John 15:8. Such a man comes in humility with regret of his past sins, (but not dwelling on them), for as the Word of the Lord within has said: "Once you have expressed sorrow over the past, it is redundant to bring it up again. Forget the feelings of having past failed. Through guilt you can become entangled again. Forgetting what lies behind, we press onward."
From the Word of the Lord within: "Pray only as you are told. If told what to pray for, they can be extremely effective; to pray as heard — righteous expectation.
Praying always from the Spirit is part of true worship in Spirit and Truth, which is continual. True worship is continuously following the Lord's leading in what to say and do, not just in a assembly of believers, but always, continually, everywhere; only those who are in Spirit and Truth can do so. William Penn wrote: "True worshipping of God is doing his will." True worship in Spirit and Truth is following the continual directions from God for what to speak and deeds to be done; and as you follow those continual directions, you have continual joyful praise, prayers, bowing to God in Spirit, melody in your heart, and thankfulness. No one can truly worship, praise, or pray until their heart has been cleansed by the Lord to become free from sin and free from the fleshly, carnal mind, which is enmity with God — thus to be walking in the Spirit and Light, guided by God.
Until you can hear what the Lord desires you to pray, sit and wait in humble silence, hopeful of eventually becoming righteous: able to pray, praise, worship, speak, and act perfectly according to the will of God, which brings pleasure, honor, and glory to God.
When we think up the words to pray with our minds, that is praying from our carnal mind. Why are prayers from our carnal mind an abomination? Because the carnal mind pretends to be humble and chooses words that it thinks sound good, submissive, and respectful; but the Lord has heard your every thought, including your doubts, your resentments over your being in an evil state, your judgments of His unfairness to you, and even your accusations against Him. So, when you pray, you attempt to paint yourself as faithful, humble, submissive, and loving Him; since that is feigned, it is a lie and an abomination; (the more you become aware of your thoughts, the more you will see the truth in this statement).
This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Mark 7:6, Isa 29:13
That is why you can only show true humility with silence. He knows everything you have ever thought, everything you want, everything you wish; and you are wasting your time with insincere words. Since Paul has told us that our carnal minds are enmity against God and cannot be subject to the law of God, Rom 8:7, then it is very understandable that such prayers are impudent and repulsive to God.
As the Word of the Lord within said, "At best your thoughts are a vain hiss;" if our best thoughts are a vain hiss, I shudder to think what is our worst thoughts. A hiss is the spirit of the serpent (Satan) speaking in you as several scriptures refer to unpurified men as serpents; and Christ must bruise the head of that serpent in you, as was the promise to Eve when she fell. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9. "The thoughts of the unrighteous are detestable (foul, disgusting) to the LORD, but the words of the pure are pleasant words." Pro 15:26. When you have been purified, your words will be supplied by the Spirit and be pleasing to you and the Lord.
Until you have words supplied by the Spirit, listen in humble silence for his teachings and instructions. How can you hear when you are telling him what you want him to do? For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. Matthew 6:7-9. From the Word of the Lord within: "To sit in silence waiting on the Lord is to bear the cross — instead of thinking how you might please others."
Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10.
Be silent, oh all flesh before the Lord. Zech 2:13.
In repentance and rest you are saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength. Isa 30:15.
The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life-giving. John 6:63.
But some might say, "What about the Lord's Prayer; are we not supposed to pray that either before we can pray in the Spirit?" In No Cross No Crown, William Penn addressed this as extracted below:
So, though Christ taught his disciples to pray, they were, in some sort, disciples before He taught them; not worldly men, whose prayers are an abomination to God. And his teaching them is not an argument that everybody must say that prayer, whether he can say it with the same heart, and under the same qualifications, as his poor disciples or followers did, or not; as is now too superstitiously and presumptuously practiced; but rather as they then, and so we now, are not to pray our own prayers, but His. That is, such as He enables us to make, as He enabled them then.
For if we are not to take thought what we shall say when we come before worldly princes, because it shall then be given to us; and that "it is not we that speak, but the Spirit of our heavenly Father that speaks in us" (Mat 10:19-20); much less can our ability be needed, or should we study to ourselves forms of speech in our approaches to the great Prince of princes, King of kings, and Lord of lords. For if we consider His greatness, we ought not by Christ's command [regarding even lesser worldly princes]; and if we consider our relation to Him as children, we need not; He will help us, He is our Father; that is, if He is actually in control of us by his Spirit. Thus not only the mouth of the body, but of the soul is shut, until God opens it; and then He loves to hear the language of it. The prayer of the body [man's carnal mind] ought never to go before the prayer of the soul. His ear is open to such requests, and his Spirit strongly intercedes for those who offer them, (1 John 5:14-15).
How do we receive this preparation of the heart, giving us his Spirit to worship by in Spirit and Truth?
I answer: By waiting patiently, yet watchfully and intently upon God: "Lord," says the Psalmist, "you have heard the desire of the humble; you will prepare their heart, you will cause your ear to hear" (Psalm 10:17); and, says Wisdom, "The preparation of the heart in man is from the Lord" (Pro 16:1). Here you must not think your own thoughts, nor speak your own words, which indeed is the silence of the holy cross, but be sequestered from all the confused imaginations that are apt to throng and press upon the mind in those holy retirements. It is not for you to think to overcome the Almighty by the most composed matter, cast into the aptest phrase; no, no; one groan, one sigh, from a wounded soul, a heart touched with true remorse, a sincere and godly sorrow, which is the work of God's Spirit, excels and prevails with God. Therefore stand still in your mind, wait to feel something that is divine, to prepare and dispose you to worship God truly and acceptably. Thus you are taking up the cross, and shutting the doors and windows of the soul against everything that would interrupt this attendance upon God, however pleasant the object is in itself, how lawful or needful at another season; the power of the Almighty will break in, his Spirit will work and prepare the heart, that it may offer up an acceptable sacrifice. It is He that discovers and presses wants upon the soul; and when it cries, it is He alone that supplies them. Petitions, not springing from the Spirit's sense and preparation, are formal and fictitious; they are not true for men pray in their own blind desires, and not in the will of God, and his ear is stopped to them; "but for the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy," God has said, "I will arise" (Psalm 12:5); that is, the poor in spirit, the needy soul, those who want his assistance, who are ready to be overwhelmed, that feel a need, and cry aloud for a deliverer, and that have none on earth to help; none in heaven but Him, nor in the earth in comparison of Him; "He will deliver," said David, "the needy when he cries, and the poor, and him that has no helper. He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence, and precious shall their blood be in his sight" (Psalm 72:12-14). "This poor man," says he, "cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps round about those who fear him, and delivers them" (Psalm 34:6-8), and then invites all to come and taste how good the Lord is; yes, "he will bless those who fear the Lord, both small and great" (Psalm 115:13).