Prayer as a Measure of Your Spirit-Filled Life
Each month this year our staff will choose a different aspect of discipleship to share as the focus for that given month. Discipleship is the process of growing to be more like Jesus, part of The Journey every Christian embarks upon when surrendering their life to Christ. The discipleship focus for the month of August is prayer.
In my personal studies, I’m working through John Owen’s 820-page volume on the work of the Holy Spirit. John Owen was an English Puritan of the 17th century who witnessed the rise of the English Separatist movement as well as its fall when Charles II ascended the throne and dashed the hopes of an English commonwealth. Others have said that John Owen was the “Holy Spirit theologian of the Puritans,” and his extensive work proves that we have much to learn from him.
Of note, Owen deals a lot with the work of the Holy Spirit in prayer, recognizing that Christians cannot pray without the help of God. Not only is the spiritual exercise of prayer beyond our human ability, but the sinful nature we carry inhibits our capability to pray. He writes, “The matter of our prayer respects the depravation of our nature, and our wants on that account.” Yet, the Holy Spirit is imparted to believers to help them fulfill their privilege and duty in communing with God. Therefore, prayer acts as a sort of measure as to how completely a Christian is Spirit-filled. Spirit-filled Christians have an effective prayer life.
Owen notes that the Holy Spirit is performing two general works in a Spirit-filled Christian to aid him in prayer. First, the Spirit makes us want to pray. Secondly, the Spirit gives us the ability to pray—not in general, but upon each prayer event.
But how can we know that the contents of these prayers are Spirit-led when our own deficiencies and depravities crowd our thinking? After all, we need the Spirit to help our weakness, because we don’t even know what to pray for without His help (Rom 8:26). Owen offers three requests that are regular elements of a Spirit-filled prayer life.
First, Spirit-filled Christians are concerned with praying for their own lack of faith and unbelief. He points out that such a concern in prayer rightly frames our approach to prayer—we need the Lord’s aid in every aspect of the Christian life. Owen is helpful not to guilt Christians into prayer, but to remind us that in our flesh, none of us succeed in intimacy with Christ. Spirit-filled Christians pray for the seeds of doubt and unbelief that exist in their lives to vanish in His presence.
Second, Spirit-filled Christians are constantly aware of the prayer requests that fulfill our own carnal interests. Prayer is not merely listing the things in life you want, but rather connecting to the heart of God and voicing how His mind and will can be fulfilled in your life. Or as Owen puts it, “the Holy Spirit gives the soul of a believer a delight in God as the object of prayer.” Spirit-filled Christians pray for the things of interest to the Father.
Third, Spirit-filled Christians leave prayer with a view of God on the throne. Their prayers have been so saturated with overcoming doubt and satisfying the mind and will of God in their lives that their end goal has been achieved when they can close with a higher view of God’s supremacy. Owen’s “throne of grace” aspect in prayer is not a mere intellectual affirmation that God is important but becomes an all-consuming realization that carries the Spirit-led Christian throughout His day after communing with his sovereign Creator. Spirit-filled Christians frame their communion with God in a way that maintains the integrity of God’s loftiness.
Do you pray? If so, do your prayers demonstrate the Spirit of God within you? As you spend time this month assessing your own spiritual temperature, pay special attention to your prayer time, because prayer is a demonstrated measure of your Spirit-filled Christian life.
(Written by Shawn Nichols, Pastor)
Wilmont Place Baptist Church is a Southern Baptist church of 150 active members on the south side of Oklahoma City. Text-driven expository preaching, Bible-teaching, personal growth, and community evangelism define the culture and direct the activities and events of the congregation. The church is working through a formal revitalization strategy in which members become family and the community becomes ministry.