True Praying in the Holy Spirit (7)

True Praying in the Holy Spirit (7)


By G. H. C. Macgregor


We have now learned something regarding the special work of the Holy Spirit in connection with prayer. We have learned that it is on Him that we have to rely, that it is to Him we have to look if we would know rightly what to have to look if we would know rightly what to pray for, and how to pray. And we have learned that the help which we need is, moment by moment, offered to us. The Spirit dwells within us to help us to pray.

In this chapter we shall deal with some of the characteristics of prayer in the Holy Spirit and endeavor to estimate the effect, on our prayers, of yielding ourselves wholly to the control of the Spirit of God.

If we have learned to pray in the Holy Spirit, our prayers will be marked by these characteristics:

    1. They will be full of a holy wonder. Wonder is always a right attitude of soul in presence of the deep things of God. Wonder is one of the features of the heavenly life. The attitude of the Seraphim before the Throne is one of unceasing wonder. The glory of God fills them with surprise and amazement every moment (Isa. 6:2). The attitude of the angels in heaven is one of wonder. In presence of the mysteries of Redemption they stand amazed, and desire to look into them (1 Peter 1:12). The life of the glorified saints is a life full of wonder. Each day brings new surprises, new causes of amazement, and they dive deeper and deeper into the things of God.

    2. And the Scripture shows us how in presence of God the holy men of old wondered, and were amazed. Moses before the bush (Exod. 3:3); Joshua before Jericho (Josh. 5:14); Manoah before the angel (Jud. 13:19), and Peter in Herod's prison, all display this same emotion. Now when we have learned to pray in the Holy Spirit, He will make such discoveries to us of the deep things of God that we will be amazed. He will make to us such revelations of the power of prayer, of the blessing which it brings, and such revelations of the grace of God, and His willingness to bless His people, that we shall be overwhelmed. It will pass our power to understand why our God should have put into our hands an instrument so potent for blessing. And our amazement at the love of God will be followed by amazement at our own folly, and insensate stupidity, that we have not made more use of it. Then, like David, we shall go and sit before the Lord, and say, "Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house that Thou hast brought me hitherto" (2 Sam. 7:18). Let us do this now. Let us give ourselves up for a little to wondering at the love of God in allowing us to pray.

      "On such love, my soul, still ponder,
      Love so great, so rich, so free;
      Say, whilst lost, in holy wonder,
      'Why, O Lord, such love to me?'
      Grace shall reign eternally."

    3. They will be marked by a deep stillness. He who has learned to pray in the Holy Spirit dwells, as he prays, in the secret place of the most High, and abides under the shadow of the Almighty. He enters a region of holy calm, of blessed rest and peace. He is still before God (Ps. 46:10). He is silent to the Lord (Ps. 37:7, Margin). He has learned that this stillness and silence give time for the Spirit of God to work. He has learned that "tarring" is often times as essential a condition of power in prayer as it is a condition of power in service (Luke 24:49).

    4. This holy stillness in prayer is the direct outcome of the Spirit's teaching regarding "waiting on God". When He reveals to us the grace and power of God to whom we pray, we are filled with wonder; when He reveals to us the blessedness of waiting on God, a holy quietness takes possession of us. We check ourselves ere we pray. We lay aside haste and hurry. And then we find, blessed be God! That our hearts and our thoughts are guarded by the peace of God (Phil. 4:7, R. V. ). It were well if this stillness and calmness in prayer were more sought after by Christian people. It would prove a cure to much distressing waywardness of mind and wandering of heart. And it may be attained. It is attained when we allow the Holy Spirit to work it in our souls.

    5. Our prayers when we pray in the Holy Spirit will be marked by strength. James tells us that "the supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working" (James 5:16), R. V. ). The words he employs in telling us this set before us forcibly the point with which we are now dealing. The prayers of him who prays in the Holy Spirit have strength (is-chur, vigor, --bodily and mental. This word suggests strength in repose. It is a strength, which will be found equal to bearing any strain likely to be put on it. It is the strength of health (Matt. 9:12), and the strength of youth (1 John 2:14). It is a strength that can do all things (Phil. 4:13). It is the strength of a concentrated mind, -- a fervent heart and a resolute will. Further, the prayers of him who prays in the Holy Spirit have energy (energeia). This word suggests strength in action. Like the previous word, it is frequently applied to the power of God, especially as manifested in the working of miracles. God accomplished the resurrection of Jesus Christ by the working (energeia), the actual outputting of the strength of His might (ischus) -- (Eph. 1:9). Now true prayer has something about it of the character of the God to whom it is addressed. It not only has strength, but it puts forth its strength. And it puts forth effectually. It is operative; it is efficient. It achieves results; it works wonders. He who prays in the Holy Spirit makes prayer, for the time being, the only business of his life. He gives himself up to it, and puts himself, mind, and heart, and will into it. So he prevails. He obtains answers. He seeks and finds. He asks and receives. He knocks and to Him the door is opened.

    6. This strength in prayer, this prevailingness in prayer is to the world outside the most striking characteristic of prayer in the Holy Spirit. When Elijah in the old time shuts up the heaven and brings famine on the land, and again by prayer rings floods of water, and when Muller in our own day feeds thousands through a long series of years, simply by the power of prayer, they furnish an argument for the being and power of God, which none can gainsay nor resist.

      It is interesting to note how close is the connection between stillness in prayer, and strength in prayer. The still is of often the strong. A broad deep river is still. But how strong it is! It bears the navies of nations on its bosom. Nothing can stop it. The St. Lawrence at Quebec gives one a far deeper impression of power than the cataract of Niagara. So in pray stillness is both a sign and source of strength. Our prayers are weak, because they are hurried. It is they who wait on the Lord who renew their strength, who mount up on wings like eagles, who run and are not weary, who walk and do not faint (Isa. 40:31).

    7. Our prayers, when we pray in the Holy Spirit, will be full of joy. In the upper chamber our Lord said much to His disciples about prayer, and it is striking to note how closely He connected prayer with joy. "Hitherto ye have asked nothing in My name; ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full" (Joh 16:24). There is a joy in receiving, but that is preceded, and sometimes exceeded, by the joy of asking. When we deeply love a man, we invent excuses for going to see him. We consult him about the veriest trifles, and ask him the silliest questions, not only that we may have his advice, but also even more that we may have the joy of entering his presence and sharing our life with him. So it should be between the believer and his God. So it was with the old Psalmists. See how they could sing even in the dark:

    8. "O send forth Thy Light and Thy Truth!
      Let them lead me,
      Let them lead me
      To Thy Holy mountain, and to Thy tabernacles.
      So will I come to the altar of God,
      Unto God my exceeding joy.
      Yea, upon the harp will I praise Thee
      O God, my God." -- Ps. 43:3

      Prayer has its joy as well as its pains. But as it is the Holy Spirit who alone can lead us deep enough into prayer to know its pains, its agonies, its tears, so it is the Holy Spirit who alone can discover to us its ineffable joys, and lead us with gladness to draw water out of the wells of salvation.

    9. The last characteristic of prayer in the Holy Spirit to which we shall refer is its abounding hopefulness. Truly the hope of him who prays in the Holy Spirit is a hope that makes not ashamed. When the Spirit does His work on our hearts, we pray with the most confident expectation of blessing. The hope at times becomes so strong that it passes into knowledge, and "we know that we have the petitions that we desire of Him." God would have us display this hopefulness in our prayers. He calls us to it again and again in His Word:

    10. "Wait on the Lord: be strong,
      And let your heart take courage:
      Yea, wait thou on the Lord."
      -- Ps. 27:14 (ASV)

      So He rebukes our fears and doubts. This hopefulness in prayer is intimately connected with the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul prays for the Roman Christians that they may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. And the way He works it in us is by turning our eyes away from ourselves and fixing them on God. When we know our God, when we remember the richness of His promises and the greatness of His love, we cannot help being hopeful. Let us claim this hope now, and be ashamed that we have ever been discouraged in prayer.

      "Why art thou cast down, O my soul?
      Why art thou disquieted in me?
      Hope in God: for I shall yet praise Him,
      Who is the health of my countenance, and my God."
      --Ps. 43:5



    You are reading chapter 4 of the book, True Praying in the Holy Spirit, by G.H.C. Macgregor. If you are interested in reading the previous chapter, you can find it by clicking on PRAYERPATHWAYS.

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    May the riches of the blessings of the Lord come upon your prayer life!



    An Announcement for the Coming Event: HEART-CRY FOR REVIVAL CONFERENCE will be held at Ridgecrest Conference Center, Asheville, North Carolina on May 23-27, 2000. The conference will feature with sessions, which will be geared to a "heart-cry" for revival. The desire of the conference is to catch the heartbeat of God through the messages delivered by His choice servants sharing their own "heart-cries" for a deep work of God among believers and spiritual awakening in the world. Confirmed sponsors are as follows: Bible Prayer Fellowship, Canadian Revival Fellowship, Inc., Herald of His Coming, International Awaking Ministries, Life Action Ministries, Inc., Luther Rice Seminary, Prayer Explosion NJ, Prayer & Spiritual Awakening Office of the North American Mission Board, Susek Evangelistic Association. For more information, please call 1-800-477-1454, or send E-mail to