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John Piper’s Prayer for Minneapolis

The Sorrows of Minneapolis

A Prayer for Our City

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Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Almighty and merciful Father,

Hallowed be your name in Minneapolis. Revered, admired, honored — above every name, in church, in politics, in sports, in music, in theater, in business, in media, in heaven or in hell. May your name, your absolute reality, be the greatest treasure of our lives. And may your eternal, divine Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord — crucified for sin, risen from the dead, reigning forever — be known and loved as the greatest person in this city.

It was no compliment to the city of Nineveh, but it was a great mercy, when you said to your sulking prophet Jonah, “Should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left?” (Jonah 4:11).

Oh, how kind you are to pity our folly rather than pander to our pride. Jonah could not fathom your mercy. His desire was the fire of judgment. And you stunned him, and angered him, with the shock of forgiveness.

“Oh, how large is your heart toward cities in their sin and misery.”

And have we not heard your Son, crying out to the city that would kill him, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37)?

Oh, how large is your heart toward cities in their sin and misery.

Yes, we have heard you speak mercy to great cities. Did you not say, to Jerusalem, “This city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth” (Jeremiah 33:9)? They were not worthy — not any more than Nineveh, or Minneapolis. But you are a merciful God, “slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6).

And what are we? Debtors. Whose only hope is grace. For we could never pay back the honor we have stolen from your name. How precious, then, is the lightning bolt of truth that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners!” (1 Timothy 1:15).

And for what have you saved us, Father? To what end did you forgive, and cleanse, and free, and empower your people? You have told us, “In the coming ages I will show the immeasurable riches of my grace in kindness toward you in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). Yes. That is best. You are your best gift to us.

But that’s a long way off, Lord. What about now? For now, we live in Minneapolis, not heaven. This is our home away from Home. We love our city. We love her winters — yes, we do — and cherish her spring. We love her great river and her parks. Her stadiums and her teams. We love her lakes and crystal air. We love her beautiful cityscape. We love her treelined neighborhoods, her industry, her arts, her restaurants, and recycling.

And we love her people. Her old immigrant Swedes and new immigrant Somalis. Her African Americans, her Asians, her Latinos. We love those with so many genetic roots they don’t know what box to check. We love her diversity — every human precious because you made each one like yourself and for your glory.

This is our home away from Home. We are sojourners and exiles in this city (1 Peter 2:11). So we ask again: For what have you saved us? Here and now?

Open our hearts to hear your answer, Lord: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7).

Yes, Lord. Yes. This is our heart for Minneapolis. We seek her welfare. We pray on her behalf.

For those who knew George Floyd best and loved him most, bring them your consolation, and direct their hearts to the God of all comfort.

For Derek Chauvin, who put his knee on Floyd’s neck for seven minutes, until he died, we ask for the mercy of repentance and the judgment of justice. For officers Thomas Lane and Tou Thao and Alexander Kueng, who stood by, we pray that grief and fear will bear the fruit of righteous remorse; and may the seriousness of the killing and the cowardice of the complicity meet with proper penalties.

For the upright police who have watched all ten minutes of the unbearable video of Floyd’s dying, who consider it “horrific” and “inhuman,” who find it unbelievable that Chauvin did not say a single word for seven minutes as the man under his knee pled for his life, and who lament with dashed hopes that they must start again from “square one” to rebuild what meager trust they hoped to have won — for these worthy servants of our city, we pray that they would know the patient endurance of Jesus Christ, who suffered for deeds he did not do.

“We pray that the compounding of sorrows will not compound our sin, but send us running to the Savior.”

For police chief Medaria Arradondo, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, our Mayor Jacob Frey, and our Governor Tim Walz, we ask for the kind of wisdom that only God can give — the kind king Solomon had when he said, “Cut the baby in half” (1 Kings 3:16–28), and discovered the true mother.

May our leaders love the truth, seek the truth, stand unflinching for the truth, and act on the truth. Let nothing, O Lord, be swept under the rug. Forbid that any power or privilege would be allowed to twist or distort or conceal the truth, even if the truth brings the privileged, the rich, the powerful, or the poor, from the darkness of wrong into the light of right.

For the haters and the bitter and the hostile and the slanderers — of every race — we pray that they will see “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). We pray that the light will banish darkness from their souls — the darkness of arrogance and racism and selfishness. We pray for broken hearts, because “a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).

We pray that our city will see miracles of reconciliation and lasting harmony, rooted in truth and in the paths of righteousness. We pray for peace — the fullest enjoyment of shalom, flowing down from the God of peace, and bought at an infinite price for the brokenhearted followers of the Prince of Peace.

And as the scourge of COVID-19 has now killed 100,000 people in our nation, and still kills 20 people a day in our state — most of them in our city — and as the virus wreaks havoc with our economy, and riots send lifetimes of labor up in smoke, and the fabric of our common life is torn, we pray that the compounding of sorrows will not compound our sins, but send us desperate and running to the risen Savior, our only hope, Jesus Christ.

O Jesus, for this you died! That you might reconcile hopeless, hostile people to God and to each other. You have done it for millions by grace through faith. Do it, Lord Jesus, in Minneapolis, we pray. Amen.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2020 in Minneapolis

 

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“Trouble! Right here in River City!” (A Study of 2 Corinthians 1:8ff)

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

We’re now working our way through 2 Corinthians. Here’s my outline for several verses in chapter one:

“Trouble! Right here in River City!” (vv. 8ff)

1. We don’t keep our troubles private (v. 8)

2. We admit our inability to endure by ourselves (v. 8).

3. We are honest about our feelings — “despaired of life itself” (v. 8).

4. We see God’s purposes in our difficulties — “that we might not rely on ourselves but on God” (v. 9).

5. We recognize that the worst, death, is no match for God (v. 9) – He’s the One who raises the dead! (cp. Dan. 3:17 – “and even if He doesn’t!”)

6. We deal with the critical question of “where do we put our hope?” (v. 10)

7. Let others help you — by their prayers! (v. 11).

For those of you, like me, who couldn’t help but think of the song from “The Music Man” entitled “Ya Got Trouble!”, I have included the video of that song below. Enjoy! (couldn’t help but think of my roomie from Emmaus days, Steve Decker!)

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2020 in trouble

 

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On Becoming Seventy! A Few Reflections (Part 6 of 7) T=TRUSTING!

Groundhogs’ Day. February 2nd. That’s my birthday! Now, I think that Groundhogs’ Day ought to be declared a national holiday. This furry creature comes out of its comfortable underground home to prognosticate about the next six weeks of weather — Surely that deserves to be honored as a national holiday!

But it’s also my birthday. My 70th birthday. And as it approaches, I want to think about a couple of issues before it is “here.”

We’re using the acronym SEVENTY as our guide. We’ve thought about the letter “S” (survival), the letter “E” (for engagement), the letter “V” (for victory),  the letter “E” for (evangelism), and the letter “N” (for newness). Let’s think about the letter “T” for TRUSTING!

Linda and I are in the stage where TRUSTING the Lord has become very real. And sometimes quite difficult. When our children (or our grandchildren) face challenges, we want to rescue them, fix all their problems, help them (with godly advice, of course) to overcome all their obstacles. but sometimes all we can do is . . . TRUST.

So, after almost 49 years of marriage, we are getting much more serious about praying together. So after we’ve both had our coffee in the morning, we sit on our couch and we pray. We lift up our children and their families to the One Who is worthy of our TRUST. But it’s a lot easier to give advice (when it’s not asked for) or to worry in silence about circumstances and situations. I’m not sure it’s easier to TRUST when one gets older, but, in some sense, the options get more limited as time goes on.

Would you pray this prayer with me? “Lord Who Is Worthy of My Trust, please forgive me for relying way too much on my wisdom, foresight, advice. Help me and my wife to TRUST You in all circumstances ‘as long as we both shall live.’ In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2020 in 70th birthday

 

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The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit (Chapter 6)

Chapter 6- His Ministries to the Believer (Part 3)

“I believe God is leading me to marry Alice,” my German friend said. “But, is she a believer in Jesus?”, I asked. “Well, no, not yet. But I can sense the Spirit’s directing me to marry her.” “Oh,” I said, “you might not want to hear my opinion.” “Yeah, you’re probably right. I don’t.”

(1) The Convicting of the Believer by the Holy Spirit
What in the world convinces Christians that the Holy Spirit only convicts THE WORLD of their sin? What about US? What about the many areas in which we need His divine finger to show us our bad thinking, poor choices, and misguided priorities?

We are studying God the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity. The reason for our study is the conviction that some Christians often either overemphasize Him or overlook Him. We need a biblical balance in understanding His ministries in the world . . . and in us!

But how does God the Holy Spirit bring about conviction of sin in the believer’s life? Again, if His primary tool is the Word of God, then the Word properly preached (or shared) is the vehicle by which the Holy Spirit brings biblical guilt into the heart of the Christian. There is, of course, unbiblical guilt which the world (and even other Christians) tries to inflict upon us. But biblical guilt occurs when the Holy Spirit gets real specific with us about something that needs to change — and we submit to His leading.
I mentioned at the beginning of this short book that I did my doctoral dissertation on John Nelson Darby’s doctrine of the Holy Spirit. I read most of Darby’s 55 volumes of tough theological prose and was so glad when I was done and my dissertation was approved! But one thing Darby said that stuck out to me had to do with conviction of sin. He said that conviction of sin occurs when I stop defending myself and go and stand with the Holy Spirit in condemning the sin in my life. I thought that was helpful.
Where has the Holy Spirit brought a kind of biblical guilt to your soul? Are you standing with Him and asking God to help you abandon that sin, change that habit, repent of that attitude?

The Challenge: We should be bold enough to admit sin and tell a selection of others how the Spirit led you to change.

(2) The Holy Spirit’s Help in Our Prayer Life
Romans 8 is a primary passage on God the Holy Spirit. Let’s look carefully at what Paul says there —
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Just a few notes on this incredible text:

1. There’s a lot of groaning going on! Creation has been groaning (because of its fallen condition, v. 22).

2. Believers themselves also groan inwardly as they await their adoption as sons and the redemption of their bodies (v. 23).

3. The Holy Spirit also groans! In our weakness we often don’t know what we ought to pray for. But we have the interceding ministry of the Spirit “through wordless groans” (v. 26). And His intercession for us is “in accordance with the will of God” (v. 27). How often we pray not in accordance with the will of God. But, thank God, the Spirit knows — and prays — better!

(3) The Leading of the Holy Spirit
We Christians often make one of two errors about God the Holy Spirit: we either overemphasize Him or we overlook Him. We are studying what some have called the “Shy Member of the Trinity” and we have already shown that as a Person we can have a relationship with Him. And as God, we can and should worship Him.

The next ministry of God the Holy Spirit that we want to consider is His leading. If He is indeed personal, He can lead the people of God. But, we must ask, what saith the Scriptures?

Matthew 4:1 [ Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness ] Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Acts 13 1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

Romans 8:14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
Galatians 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

How does God the Holy Spirit lead His people? God has certainly used dreams and visions in the Word of God to move His children in certain directions (one thinks of the Apostle Peter in Acts 10). Should we strive for and long for dreams and visions today? If we do, it seems we are minimizing the Word of God and the Spirit’s leading the people of God through the people of God! What I mean is, isn’t it the case that most of what the Spirit does today He does mediately? By “mediately” we mean through human instruments. He does not appear to perform His ministries today primarily immediately (not as to time, but as to solitary directness).

The idea of “finding the will of God,” by the way, is not a magical quest that only a few Christians are able to successfully complete. In fact, Dr. Bruce Waltke rightly suggests that some forms of “seeking God’s will” smack more of divination than devotion. His excellent book Finding the Will of God is subtitled A Pagan Notion?

How does God lead you? Isn’t it through a face-to-face encounter with God’s truth in God’s Word? Isn’t it through a believer who loves you enough to tell you the truth about something hard? Isn’t it in the quietness of your soul when you pray and ask God to move your heart to seek Him more deeply?

A Challenge: How has God the Holy Spirit led you? Sometimes we must simply step out in faith and trust God as He leads us. We are, afterall, to walk by faith and not by sight.

(4) The Assurance of the Holy Spirit
We want to consider the internal ministry of assurance which the Spirit of God gives the believer. We read again in Romans 8 —
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
What we see in these incredible verses from Romans 8 ought to bring encouragement to the believer’s heart. It is by the Spirit that we cry, “Abba, Father” (v. 15).

What about when you’ve really blown it as a believer and you think, “There’s no way that God loves me right now or calls me His child!”? We read in verse 16- “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we re God’s children.”

God the Holy Spirit assures us that we are His children. And not only that, but we are heirs — “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (v. 17). The biblical doctrine of assurance is one ministry of the Spirit of God to our hearts — and it ought to calm our hearts and steady our minds in living for Him!

The Challenge: Are you listening to the Spirit’s internal words to you, assuring you of your place in God’s family? As you read the Word, be aware of his voice of encouragement and assurance.

Study Questions:
1. What is the Spirit’s primary tool in bringing conviction to the believer’s heart?
2. How exactly does the Spirit help us in our prayer lives?
3. What are some dangers in our asking the Spirit of God to “lead” us?
4. How does the Spirit’s ministry of assurance differ from the sin of presumption?

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2019 in The Holy Spirit

 

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Please pray for My Saturday Seminar — October 5!!!

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2019 in ministry

 

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Time for a Great Quote from Corrie Ten Boom — On Prayer!

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2019 in prayer

 

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Time for a Great Quote: Philip Yancey on PRAYER

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2019 in prayer

 

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Pray for My Upcoming Ministry! (September through November)

Friends: It’s so good to be in the battle, right? Would you pray for the following opportunities for ministry for me and Linda?

September 23-24 – Heritage Retreat, Camp Elim, Woodland Park, Colorado. I’ll be speaking to the supporters of the Camp on 2 Corinthians 12 and the theme will be “Living NOW in Light of the FUTURE.”

September 28-October 7 – Linda and I will be in the pagan land of New Jersey. I will speak to the believers at Cedarcroft Bible Chapel on September 29 and October 6. In Sunday School I will discuss I Timothy 3 on those two Sundays. I will also conduct a Saturday seminar on October 5 on my book Unlike Jesus: Let’s Stop Unfriending the World. We will stay with Linda’s 93-year-old mom and catch up on missed episodes of “Little House on the Prairie.”

October 18-November 11 – I will travel to Ethiopia and Zambia to teach in two schools there. Please pray for my preparations for that trip — and for safety!

November 16-17 – Cedar Valley Bible Church’s “Second Coming Conference” in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. My theme will be “What Difference Does the Future Make? The Practical Application of Prophecy” and I will be preaching on three passages: I Thessalonians 4, 2 Peter 3, and I John 3.

I really want to dedicate this next year to seeking to influence churches in the area of friendship evangelism. Please pray for opportunities to have my “Unlike Jesus” seminar in many places!

Thanks for your prayers, my friends!

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2019 in ministry

 

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Living Now in Light of the Future (A Series of Messages on 2 Corinthians 12) Part 7

Linda and I are looking forward to September 23-24 when we will be speaking to the supporters of Camp Elim in Colorado. These posts give me the opportunity to work on my messages (from 2 Corinthians 12) for the Heritage Retreat.

Let’s look at our text one more time:

Paul’s experience of heaven was dramatically different from the often silly and unbiblical reports of people who say they have toured heaven.

We don’t need their testimonies — we have the Word of God to guide us.

We saw that the first challenge in Living Now in Light of the Future is that we have a biblical view of boasting (vv. 1-6).

Our second challenge from this text is that we have a clear focus on the future (vv. 2 & 4 & 7). Having a clear focus on the future does not mean that we try to explain all the sights and sounds of heaven — but we allow its superlative nature to silence us into awe and wonder!

Let’s notice a third challenge from our text that will help us live now in light of the future. Because of the reality of our future we are given —

III. A Practical Primer on Prayer (vv. 8-9)

“Primer” is an old word meaning either (1) an elementary book for teaching children to read; or, (2) any book of elementary principles. Well, we don’t have a book here, but we are given — through Paul’s example — a model of prayer which we ought to follow.

There are, of course, various kinds of prayer in the Scriptures. I find it helpful to use the ACTS formula (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication). Here in 2 Corinthians 12 Paul’s prayer is of the supplication kind, don’t you think? He has a desperate need — and he brings it to the Lord for resolution.

What is Paul’s need? He is talking about an incredible, superior experience of getting a glimpse (both auditory and visual) of heaven! What possible needs could he now have?! Ah, he receives a “gift” for his experience. He says in verse 7 – “in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” What?!?!?!

God gave Paul a “thorn in the flesh” which Paul describes as “a messenger of Satan”! Scholars have long debated what Paul’s “thorn” was (malaria, Judaizers plaguing him, etc.). My suggestion is that it was a vision problem, for he says in the book of Galatians things like “See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!” (6:11) and “if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me” (4:15). He does refer to this thorn as his “weakness” (vv. 5, 9ff), a Greek term which normally refers to a physical problem.

[One can’t help but think of another “Saul” who had a similar experience. Of King Saul we read — “Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.” (I Sam. 16:14)].

What do we learn about PRAYER from Paul here?
1. We learn that it is never wrong to pray for something more than once. Paul “pleaded with the Lord” three times for the thorn to be taken away.
2. We learn that we are to submit to God’s will and not become disillusioned when God doesn’t answer our prayers as we think He should.
3. We learn about His sufficient grace — that it becomes most real to us in our “weaknesses.”
4. We learn that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.

You may have heard the story of Bill’s meeting with his pastor. “Pastor,” he said, “I have the worst temper! I fly off the handle at my wife and my kids. It’s terrible! I guess it’s just my ‘thorn in the flesh.'” “Bill,” the pastor said, “your temper is not your ‘thorn in the flesh.’ It’s your wife’s thorn in the flesh! But it’s your SIN!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2019 in 2 Corinthians 12

 

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The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit — PRAYING IN the Holy Spirit!

Some Christians tend to overemphasize the Holy Spirit, while others of us tend to overlook Him. Because we need a balanced, biblical view of our relationship with the Holy Spirit, we are writing these posts, asking how are we to relate to Him? Because He is personal, we can pray to Him — and, because He is God, we can worship Him. Neither of these two actions ought to be understood as taking the place of our primary calling of worshiping the Lord Jesus. The Spirit’s major role is to glorify the Lord Jesus!

Apart from the many ministries that the Holy Spirit has in the believer’s life, we need to consider how we respond to Him. Scripture tells us not to grieve Him in Ephesians 4:30 (“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.“).

But we have a fascinating command in the one-chapter epistle of Jude where he writes, “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit . . .”

What in the world does it mean to “pray in the Holy Spirit”? This expression is used only one other time in Scripture and that is in Ephesians 6:18 where we read, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

Does “praying in the Spirit” refer to the use of some supernatural, unlearned language? Some in the charismatic movement refer to “heavenly babbling,” the speaking “in other tongues.” However, when we examine the speaking in tongues on the Day of Pentecost, the disciples spoke in known dialects so that the gospel could be understood by people from various backgrounds.

There is  nothing in the context of Jude 1 or of Ephesians 6 that would indicate that other-worldly languages are being referred to by the expression “praying in the Holy Spirit” or “pray in the Spirit.” May I suggest a rather mundane, but hopefully accurate view of this practice and that would be — We should pray in accordance with the Spirit’s ministries. In other words, in Jude the challenge is to stand strong for the gospel. To build ourselves up in our most holy faith involves praying that the Holy Spirit would have His way in our lives, that we would listen to His promptings, that we would obey His teaching of God’s truth. In Ephesians our praying in the Spirit concerns others — We are to pray “in the Spirit” on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. This involves being alert and consistent in praying for all the Lord’s people.

Conclusion: We pray in the Spirit when we are aware of His works in our lives and we ask His help in doing our work for God. The self-work we do is to strengthen ourselves in God’s truth. The others-work we do is to intercede for God’s people.

The Challenge: Are you praying in the Holy Spirit? Take one of His ministries to you and ask Him to help you co-operate with His work in your life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2019 in The Holy Spirit

 

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