Praying in the power of the Spirit isn’t a privilege for a few, extra-mature Christians; praying in the Spirit is for every Christian.
“…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying 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,” (Ephesians 6:17–18, ESV)
In Ephesians 6:18 (as part of the exhortation to wear the whole armor of God) Paul insists on believers “praying at all times in the Spirit.” As we learned yesterday, “praying in the Spirit” isn’t limited to the gift of tongues. All prayer should be “in the Spirit.” God is Spirit and we commune with Him “in the Spirit.”
Throughout Christian history, there has been significant theological discussion about the nature of the human personhood. Are there two parts to you (soul and body) or are there three parts to you (spirit, soul and body)? Many theologians point out that “spirit” and “soul” often seem to be used interchangeably in the Bible.
However, if “spirit” and “soul” are two ways of saying the same thing, this “bipartite” view leaves some Biblical questions. For example, Paul’s blessing to the Thessalonians is tripartite: “… may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless….” (1 Thess. 5:23). Also noteworthy is Hebrews’ famous picture of the word of God being “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit…”
The idea that we’re spirit, soul and body makes more sense to me. I think my soul (psyche in Greek) encompasses all of my mind, emotions and will but my spirit is my born-again self (that which was dead apart from Christ) that is able to directly commune with the Holy Spirit. Spirit to spirit. Deep to deep. It is in this sense that I see prayer as a matter of the spirit rather than the soul.
When my mind can’t or won’t pray with clarity or power, I think my redeemed, spiritual self is always ready. When Jesus told the disciples that, though the flesh is weak, the “spirit is willing,” (Matthew 26:41) it could be translated, the “spirit is desiring.” Your body might feel lazy and your mind might feel tired, but you’re a living spirit capable of communing with the Holy Spirit. Your spirit is always ready to pray!
And that’s the Gospel!