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Description: Praying in the Spirit with Strong Desire
Praying in the Spirit with Strong Desire
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
The verse that we have managed to reach is Ephesians 6:18. We have dwelt in depth with the armor and
this verse concludes the exhortation to put on the whole armor. Eph 6:18-“Pray at all times in the
Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making
supplication for all the saints.”
So what all does praying in the Spirit mean? You remember in my wife’s crisis some time ago that
Irene needed 6 pints of blood. She was obviously pretty low on blood. There came a moment when I
looked into her eyes and she didn’t know me. There was no sense of recognition and I knew that. I
said, “Lord Jesus help us!” It was so definite in my mind I can tell you exactly what I said.
Well, the same thing happened to me a week ago when I was having the catheter removed from my artery
and was in that difficult situation where I had a full bladder that I couldn’t get rid of. I was
trying to do that and the guy was holding onto the artery to stop the blood from coming out and
really I didn’t know what to do next. That was just before I asked for my wife to come in.
I saw the guy who was holding his finger on the artery and didn’t know what to do. The nurse was
slanting the table which isn’t good when you are getting a catheter taken out and I was holding a
bottle and trying to wipe my forehead. I did not know how to solve this. My blood pressure was going
up and down. The nurse was having trouble controlling it and I could not actually see how to get out
of this situation. So I said, “Jesus help us.” And things turned around.
I would say praying in the spirit is first of all a strong desire. You could almost say desperate
desire. I thought I’d dare risk telling you these stories because it’s so different from our saying,
“Let’s have a little prayer, let’s pray for …..”
Praying in the Spirit is strong desire. I thought that was the good thing about the hymn that goes,
“Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed.” It says very plainly that prayer is
strong desire. It’s a hunger and a thirst. It’s something that you desperately want. It’s only when
you want it with all your heart that God is able to act.
Our little prayers that we pray are really what Jesus condemns when he says don’t be like the
Pharisees, speaking many words. So, first of all praying in the Spirit is strong desire. It doesn’t
mean tears and lots of emotion. It obviously doesn’t mean a lot of words. But it’s a strong desire,
a real desire on your part.
Then I would try and jump into something that might be of help to you. Praying in the Spirit is
praying down. It’s not praying up but praying down. It’s very difficult to have a spirit of God’s
own being when you are praying “up” and out of the hole to God. Praying in the Spirit is praying
down. And part of the battle in praying down is the very immediacy of the world around us.
The world is getting more and more oppressive – i.e. it presses in upon you and it’s in your face.
The noise and bustle, the general attitude of people and the shear multiplicity of mechanical
devices that we have to deal with press in upon you. It almost takes out of you your inner self. And
so it is essential that you dwell where you are, and not where you are visiting here on earth. It’s
not where you are visiting in the car driving along the highway. It’s not where you are visiting
temporarily as you go into that store. It’s not even where you are visiting temporarily in your nice
quiet bedroom. But it’s where God has placed you at his right hand.
I don’t know how you bring it about if you don’t use something like these passages in Ephesians.
There may be other ways such as hymns or “how can I keep from singing” that can help you. But for me
it’s just vital that I quietly remind myself of Eph 2:4-10.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead
through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and
raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the
coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ
Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the
gift of God – not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created
in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
And there I go straight to Philippians 2:4-8. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say,
Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but
in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ
Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is
pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything
worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Then I just do that. If you don’t have something like that, or those very words, it is quite
difficult to escape out of your skin. If you don’t escape out of your skin you can’t really pray in
the spirit. And that’s why the rejoicing. It’s so good – we rejoice – and whatever your excuse for
thinking something else or worrying about something else we are to rejoice. It cuts through all that
and puts you into a position in Jesus at God’s right hand and then prayer rises from you. The prayer
of who? It’s the prayer of the one who is praying for us every moment (Jesus), the one who is
interceding at the right hand of God for the saints. His spirit begins to pray through you and you
pray the person up to God. And as you pray up, God’s spirit is able to touch the lives of those you
are praying for.
You are doing the same thing as the man who let their friend down through the roof for Jesus to
touch them. You are lifting them up through the roof. You are lifting them up to him and you pray in
a joyful praising spirit and not from below. When you pray from below you are heavy with the needs
of the person. Your mind is on that and you are virtually just repeating thoughts.
Like Shakespeare says, “My prayers will not go up any higher than where I am.” That’s what happens.
It hits a ceiling. But when you’re praying from your position that God has given you at God’s right
hand you realize, “that is where I am”. Then the thing hits you, rejoice, rejoice. If God is telling
you to rejoice who am I to say, “No, I can’t rejoice because things are so bad.” If God is telling
you to rejoice then things must be OK.
Then the whole heart rises. That’s praying in the spirit.
Praying in the spirit is obviously life for you and it becomes a “holiday” – or a holy day. Then,
God is able to move in the spiritual world. And that is reality. It’s not a new way to get answers
to prayers. No, it isn’t that. This is just reality. This is where you are. This is what faith is.
Faith is believing what is true.
I’ve been a long time in business and I remember when I realized that I have to sell these books
that I bought in the back of the church. But most of all I have to be “in Him” as I do that so that
people who buy the book or talk with me after the sermon see the face of Jesus and not me worried
about me whether I’m going to sell these books that I got from Alec Brooks. That’s also why I said,
“Open the doors to the Garden Restaurant” even though I knew we were not quite ready.
We should go in and live where we are. I understand fully that it’s a bear in the business world if
you are not dwelling where God has placed you. It seems to me that everything is lit up by the
presence of God. And your prayers are lifted up by his power. That’s part of what it is to pray in
the spirit for all the saints. Pray with perseverance. It’s not that grinding kind of perseverance.
It’s simply enjoying yourself while you continue to look up.
If you ask me, “What about depression?” I know it so well that I am able to tell you. Depression is
just blindness and lack of faith. It’s just ME looking at the things of earth and looking at
something that is partial. It’s not looking at anything that is true, because all this has already
been crucified with Christ and so it’s unreal. It’s allowing yourself to be fascinated by lies and
it’s almost a willful stupidity.
Karl Barth quotes, “A fool in his heart has said that there is no God.” People are foolish that
don’t believe in God. But people similarly who look upon the earth and are preoccupied with what
they see are looking at a thing that God has already said is a picture of what life is not. It’s a
lie and a deception. So whenever we get into depression we are just being downright disobedient and
unreal. So there is only one way.
I have managed to learn those verses in Ephesians and Philippians. And then there are those verses
in Colossians where it says that Jesus is the express image of the invisible God, all things were
made through him and all things hold together in Him. It makes me suddenly realize I am in Jesus and
he is what holds me together. It really lifts you out of yourself.
I would say that’s the battle. I would say praying in the spirit is opposite of praying in the
flesh. It is opposite to being preoccupied with what we can see and touch and hear. It’s living in
the heavenly places. Then the prayer rises. That was the meaning of “Jesus help us.” It wasn’t me
thinking that was a good thing to say. It was me looking up to Him because I was desperate. So let