Day 8 – Prayer and the Holy Spirit
Effective Prayer Podcast, by Colin Dye
I’ve already remarked in earlier sessions that we read in the Old Testament of praying men like Moses and Elijah, Ezra, Daniel, and in the New Testament Jesus, and when you look at these people, surely, surely if you’re like me you’d say, “How can I pray like that?” We want to pray more, we want to be more effective, but we can’t imagine how it’s going to happen. Well, the answer, my friend, is the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit will come upon you. The Holy Spirit will help you. He is the helper. He helps us with our intercession. He helps us with everything in our lives, so we thank God for the Holy Spirit. He makes it all possible. Even when you are tired, even this very night, with all my schedule and programming over these days, not only in the lecturing here and the recording of this ministry, but all the other things, oh, I tell you, early this morning the Holy Spirit descended upon me and roused me out of a very deep sleep, and oh, the glory of God as I obeyed and rose again from the sleep and entered into fellowship and communion with the Holy Spirit. Nobody could do that but the Holy Ghost, certainly in my experience. I love my bed, especially when I am tired. But it is the Spirit that makes the difference.
Now we noticed, didn’t we, when we were studying the intercessors of the Old Testament, that they were, every one of them, prophets. All the intercessors were prophets in the Old Testament. You don’t have any intercession in the Old Testament outside of the prophetic ministry, and the reason for that was because of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament does not actually or explicitly state that only the people who had received the Spirit could intercede, but it records that only those who interceded were those who had the Spirit, so we can draw that conclusion. And of course the largest group of people in the Old Testament who received the Spirit were the prophets.
Now when we have a look at Zechariah 12:10, we see a clear Old Testament reference which explains the link between the Spirit and prayer,
And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.
Now here we have a Spirit of grace and supplication. Some translations translate it “the Spirit of mercy and prayer.” So we see the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of prayer. When God promised that a day would come that His Spirit would be poured out upon us, it was a promise that there would be a time of prayer; it would be for the purpose of prayer.
Remember Joel’s prophecy, Joel 2:28? “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” Then the prophecy goes along and it ends as Peter quotes it on the Day of Pentecost, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” So the Holy Spirit, who inspires prophetic speech, is also the Holy Spirit who inspires prayer. And so Zechariah, in prophesying about the Spirit of prayer, is foreshadowing; he’s introducing a truth which is plainly seen in the New Testament, that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit who inspires prayer.
John’s gospel chapter 14, verses 13 through to 17. It’s a long passage. Let’s read it.
And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
And so we see when Jesus is talking about the new prayer life that we are going to have. He talks about that in the same context as the coming of the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is our Helper. He is going to help us pray. And it is clear from this prayer context that He promised the disciples another Helper. In the Greek it is allos parakletos. Another Helper. Another Comforter.
Now the word parakletos has lots of different meanings, and it is basically one who is called alongside you to give you assistance, and it is particularly assistance in witness or proclamation. It’s almost like an advocate who will speak on your behalf. And so the Holy Spirit, who inspires us into prophetic speech, who inspires us into prophetic witness, who inspires us into prophetic proclamation, is also the Holy Spirit who inspires us into prophetic praying.
Now we ought to examine the Greek here and little bit, because it is very, very informative. Don’t worry if you don’t understand Greek or read Greek. The words are written in there and I just refer you to it because it’s a very important point. Allos parakletos. This means—of course it’s talking about the Holy Spirit—this means, first of all, that the Spirit is exactly the same as Jesus. The Greek word “allos” means “another of the same kind.” Say, for example, I said to myself, “I like the suit that I’m wearing. I am going to go and buy another one.” The Greek language would enable me to be very clear. I could walk into the shop and say, “I am wearing this suit. I would like to buy another one, please.” And if I used the word allos, it would mean that I would buy another suit exactly the same as this.
But if I thought to myself, “Yes, I need another suit. I won’t get one the same as this. I don’t want two the same. I’ll get a different one,” I could go into the shop and say, “I bought this suit here, but I’d like another one, please,” and I would use another word, heteros, which means “another of a different kind.” So just by using that word, I could tell the shopkeeper exactly what I wanted.
And when Jesus said, “There is another Comforter coming, another one,” He used the word allos, meaning there is another Comforter coming exactly like the first one. And who is the first one, who is the first Witness, the first Helper, the first Comforter, the first Teacher? Who? Who? Jesus. So Jesus says, “I am sending you another Comforter. He is exactly like the first one. He is exactly like Me.”
Now as I said, the word parakletos means “one who is called alongside,” so that tells us that the Holy Spirit is called alongside us. Para – alongside. Kletos – one called. One called alongside us to stand with us, to be with us, to abide with us forever, and He is called alongside us in order to help us, especially as also one who calls alongside us.
So He calls out alongside us, helping us to speak to God in prayer, helping us to prophesy, helping us to declare the word of the Lord, helping us to witness to others. This is the true nature of the Holy Spirit and the nature of the relationship that the Lord Jesus has given to us. He speaks to us and helps us speak to God.
Now in all of this the New Testament emphasis is that the Spirit draws attention to Jesus, as I said, by helping us to speak prophetically, by helping us pray prophetically, by helping us minister and to speak evangelistically, this is the purpose of the Holy Spirit. Now many other passages also reveal very clearly to us the prayer function of the Holy Spirit in the light of this.
Romans 8:15, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’” So the Holy Spirit enables us to cry out to God. That is the basic form of a prayer: “Abba, Father. Father.”
So this tells us, my friends, that we cannot even pray the first words of the Lord’s Prayer without the Holy Spirit, for when we pray the Lord’s Prayer we start, “Our Father,” and that means in the very beginning, and here’s how to pray, not just the Lord’s Prayer, as we looked in the last session, but how to pray any prayer, every prayer, you pray first of all by opening up your heart to the conviction that the Holy Spirit must help you pray. You can’t even begin to pray the Lord’s Prayer, you can’t even genuinely say, “Our Father” without the Holy Spirit.
And those who do, reject that prayer. Even if they repeat it parrot-fashion like we used to do at school, “Our Father, hallowed by they name.” I want to say, my friends, the Holy Spirit is the secret. He is the answer to the prayer life that you’ve always dreamed about having, and you can have, because He’s given to you the Holy Spirit. Don’t try to pray in your own strength. Don’t try to pray on your own. Pray only in the Holy Spirit.
Okay, Romans 8:26-27, another very powerful reference to this,
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
We’ll come back to that passage a little later on.
Another one, Ephesians 2:18, “For through Him,” that is, Jesus, “we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” It is by the Spirit that you have access to the Father. So in other words, when you draw to the Father in prayer, even in the name of Jesus, you need the Spirit of access. You need to dwell under that anointing. You need to invite the Holy Spirit to help you to pray. If you really do that…in fact, you shouldn’t do anything without the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit inspired the pages of the Bible. The Holy Spirit inspired the Word of God. And when you come to the Word of God you should open your heart to say, “Holy Spirit, teach me. Illumine my mind. Give me power to understand. Enable me to see great and glorious things from the Word.”
The moment you come to pray you should say, “Move me, Holy Spirit. Move me, Holy Spirit.” We should do nothing without the Holy Spirit. That’s how it began, Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved on the surface of the waters.”
We need the moving of the Holy Spirit. What was the Holy Spirit doing? The Holy Spirit was preparing the way for the Word to come. First the Spirit prepares the soil, then the Word comes. First the Spirit prepares our hearts, and then the prayer burden comes. First the Spirit prepares our hearts, and the revelation comes. First the Spirit prepares our hearts, and prophetic understanding comes. We need, first of all, to come before the Holy Spirit and say, “Holy Spirit, fill me afresh. I’m going to pray. Lead me to the feet of Jesus. Release my understanding. Fill me afresh, loosen my tongue, put Your burden upon my heart.”
Ephesians 6:18. It speaks about praying “with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” We are talking about praying in the Spirit. Jude 1 and verse 20, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” We need to understand this, almost more than anything else. Without the Holy Spirit, we cannot pray.
Now let’s have a look a little more closely at the Abba Father prayer, Galatians 4, verses 5-6, “to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’” Yes, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of adoption. He is the Spirit that inspires us to cry out, “Abba, Father.” Ephesians 1:5, “having predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”
So we are sons, very clearly and very distinctly. The Bible reveals that. We are sons, and we are only sons by the Spirit. Romans 8:15, again, he says clearly in Romans 8:15, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’”
And so when Jesus died to redeem us He also brought us into His family. He adopted us into the family of God because we become the Father’s sons and daughters, and God, therefore, has sent His Spirit into our lives and He enables us to call “Abba, Father,” so the Apostle Paul teaches that the Spirit of God enters our lives as God’s adoption gift, and that gift seals our adoption, and He helps us call upon God in the intimacy of the family name that Jesus used, Abba.
Abba is the Aramaic word. It is, as I said, the first word of the prayer of Jesus, the prayer that He taught His disciples to say, and we truly can only live that prayer and pray that prayer with the Spirit’s help. We can’t even touch the first word without His assistance. And so in all of these things, we need the Holy Spirit. We need His help in our lives.
And so the Holy Spirit comes to us as the adoption gift. He makes us cry “Abba, Father,” but also the Holy Spirit Himself comes to us through prayer. So here is a victorious cycle. You’ve heard about “vicious cycles,” haven’t you, when it gets from bad to worse to even worse and worse still and so on?
But a victorious cycle is the opposite. It begins good and then it gets better and it gets better than that and better than that and better than that. See, the Holy Spirit prompts us to pray, but then when we pray He comes in response to the prayer that He has prompted. That’s why we need a sense of victory in this whole matter of prayer. Don’t be defeated.
I have never been before a group of people anywhere in the world that has been entirely satisfied with their prayer life. If I had to ask you now: How many people in this room are entirely satisfied with your prayer life? Totally satisfied. Nothing more to learn on prayer. Look there; no hands have gone up. Right now on the satellite network, right now on these videos, anybody within the sound of my voice, put your hand up if you are entirely satisfied you have nothing more to learn on prayer.
Right. That’s what I thought. I can’t see you but I’m supposing. I’ll tell you something: That is where the Holy Spirit comes in. He comes as a result of prayer and you can rise with the wings of the Holy Spirit and you can ascend and go into the very presence of God, the very throne room of God, carried on the wings of the Holy Spirit, carried on the wind of the breath of God. You can be sustained into extremely high and lofty levels of prayer and intercession.
Of course, you need to take time; it doesn’t happen in a moment. You need to grow and develop in this ministry. But by doing it, you get good at it—or at least…you don’t want to draw attention to yourself by making a statement like that, but by doing it, you receive more and more of the enabling of the Holy Spirit because the more you pray, the more of the Holy Spirit is going to come into your life.
That’s how I encourage you to start. I don’t know if everybody within the sound of my voice today has a regular, daily discipline of prayer, and how much prayer that is, and how much the Holy Spirit is calling you to, but you need to pray on a daily basis, and in these days we need to have Spirit-anointed prayer that takes us into, as He leads us, hour after hour of fellowship with the Holy Spirit. But don’t try and start there. Don’t try and start there and say, “I’m convicted by this series. I’m going to spend six hours in prayer before breakfast every day.” I’ll tell you what: You’ll miss breakfast, you’ll miss lunch, and you will still be struggling to get through to it by the time of your evening meal.
But if you start where you are with the Holy Spirit and say, “Lord, I’m beginning to pray; help me,” you will build up—fifteen minutes, twenty minutes, half an hour a day, one hour a day, and soon the time will be coming, two or three hours, as God leads you, before you say, “I cannot get through this day until I have obeyed God and gone on my knees and sought God and sought the Holy Spirit for this time, this season of waiting upon Him.”
So the more you pray, then the more you pray—which means the more you pray and the more you pray. It becomes a lifestyle and you end up like the Apostle Paul, praying without ceasing. One person asked Smith Wigglesworth, the great apostle of faith, “How long do you pray?”
And he said, “Never more than twenty minutes,” and the man felt quite helped over that until Smith Wigglesworth said, “But I never go more than twenty minutes without praying.”