Praying Through the Day

“…build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” (Jude 1:20, NIV)

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God… . And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Ephesians 6:12-13a, 18, NIV)

What does it mean to you to “pray in the Spirit”? There are many theological debates on this issue, which I can’t say I’d like to address. In my mind, it’s one of those “disputable matters” that’s best left between an individual and God (see Romans 14:1, 22). But clearly, praying in the Spirit is something that helps build us up in our faith and equips us to fight the battle where it’s truly being engaged–in the heavenly realms.

There are many areas in which I struggle. I often meditate on Romans 7, particularly verses 21-24: “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am!” All too often, I find myself a prisoner of the flesh…knowing what God wants me to do but unable to do it by my own strength. Not wanting to be irritable to the children, but reacting with my emotions. Not wanting to feel depressed, but not willing to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 12:5). Wanting to experience the joy of the Lord, but unable to “set [my mind] on things above” (Colossians 3:2), where true joy comes from.

Granted, through Bible study and prayer and, not the least, by my own determined effort, I have made consistent progress in areas of deficiency. I’m certainly not in the same place today that I was three years ago, or even six months ago. But God has really impressed upon me recently the importance of prayer. I’ve been consciously developing an ongoing prayer life and a deeper “attitude of prayer” on a daily basis. Hard to do in the hustle-and-bustle, yes. Difficult to sustain with so many other things vying for attention. When the “tyranny of the urgent” is at its worst, prayer is the first thing that suffers. Probably because it’s one of the most effective things we can do!

For me, progress in the area of prayer began with the reading of “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence. (I bought a copy from CBD but it’s available in the public domain and can be printed as an e-book; places like Project Gutenberg have it). I don’t even think I read the whole book, but enough to get motivated and change some things about my personal prayer life.

Lately, “The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit” by Watchman Nee has brought about more dramatic changes, both in how I view the everyday events of life and how I respond to them. Praise God, I’ve been slowly but surely seeing breakthrough in so many areas that have been personally frustrating to me. Not that I’m now perfect, mind you, but the progress has been more than encouraging.

One illustration that Watchman Nee used (and which caused me to think) was in the matter of prayer: two men wanted to develop a closer intimacy with God by growing in their attitude of prayer. In order to develop this habit, they set their watches to go off each hour, and on the hour would make it a point to pray. Unfortunately, this never allowed them to develop that desired communion with God, because in the intervening minutes of the next hour, they became distracted and overwhelmed by whatever activity they were engaged in. Problem was (and this is my extrapolation) that they were praying with their minds, when they needed to learn to pray with their spirit (as the Bible verses mentioned above instruct).

So, of late, my prayer life has been changing. I no longer just pray in praise or pray for the needs that occur on a constant basis…I’m trying NOT to simply “pray with my mind” but rather to more constantly “pray with my spirit” as well (there IS a difference–see 1 Corinthians 14:15). I do believe that this is more than a contributing factor in some of the personal changes that have been taking place as I continue along on my spiritual journey in Christ. All I can do is praise God and press on…it’s my prayer that you’ll do the same. 🙂

"But I Didn’t Hear You!"

Hear [heer]–to learn by the ear or by being told; be informed of
Listen [lis-uhn]–to pay attention; heed; obey (from

I’ve thought about blogging several times this week but didn’t ever get to it. And even if I did, I really don’t know just what I would have written about. It’s been one of those weeks! Like I’ve been out to the woodshed constantly. Most certainly because I was slow in learning the lesson God had for me. I’m sure that’s never happened to you. 🙂

Recall from my last post how the Lord taught me a valuable lesson through my recent labor and delivery: embrace trials as from the Lord…look beyond the trials to God’s victory and SPEAK His victory into your situation. Well, as the Lord had formed those thoughts in my mind, I remember thinking at the time, this lesson will have great significance to me–but I knew it wasn’t for “now.”

Fast forward only a week or so, though, and it’s like that little lesson was all but forgotten! This week was, I kid you not, a CONSTANT barrage of “stuff.” Testing-of-my-patience stuff. And, I must say, although I persevered through the first few days of “trials”, I was ready to give up by Thursday, and on Friday there were a couple of moments where I actually gave in to tears. This is not something I normally do. And I don’t think it was post-partum hormones, either (though my husband might disagree…).

Then last night (“Mom’s night off,” with Daddy outside working with everyone but the baby), I decided to pick up where I left off in a great little volume that my husband and I have been working through together: “The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit,” by Watchman Nee. It’s about (perhaps obviously) how we must allow our outer man to be broken through the discipline of the Holy Spirit if we are to be effective in serving God fully. Of course, God used this to speak to me about how I had responded to the events of the week. I came away very convicted about failing to receive every event as a shaping experience from the Lord’s hand…also convicted about an attitude that was less-than-stellar. Not that I hadn’t been aware of these things during the course of the week–but now it became more than obvious that I needed to repent.

As I reflected on all of these things this morning (and re-read my last blog–another conviction, ouch!), I realized that when I should have been putting the Lord’s timely lesson about “trials” into practice, I was more focused on the trials than on the Lord. I wondered, since this was such a recent “revelation,” just how could I have failed to apply it?

As if in answer to my question, the Lord brought to mind a phrase that is all-too-common in our house: “But I didn’t hear you!” How many times do I ask the children to do something (and they could be standing right in front of me!), only to have to repeat myself a few minutes later when I realize that they’re not obeying? And their response?: “But I didn’t hear you!” And my typical retort: “If you hear me speaking, chances are I’m not talking to myself–so you should be listening!” (And of course we’re practicing saying, “Yes, Mom!” after I ask them to do something, just so that I know they heard me.) Point is, I realized that I knew God had spoken something to me and I had heard–but maybe I wasn’t really listening. If I had been, perhaps I would have obeyed! I might as well have said, “But I didn’t hear you, God!” And His response? I bet it would be something like, “If you hear me speaking, chances are I’m not talking to myself–so you should be listening!”

“See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice… . Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen” (Isaiah 32:1, 3).