When prayer has become secondary, or incidental, it has lost its power. Those who are conspicuously men of prayer are those who use prayer as they use food, or air, or light, or money. — M.E. Andross

In Ephesians 6, Paul challenges us “to pray in the Spirit.” That brings up an interesting question: Is it actually possible to pray “in the flesh”? Could someone actually pray in their own strength as part of a performance-based system to gain favor with God?

Absolutely! Remember Jesus coming down on the Pharisees? They were performing for people; they weren’t praying.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. ... But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” (Matthew 6:5-6)

Instead, Jesus told us to go inside where no one else can see us. But even there, isn’t it possible that our prayers are offered as a duty done through self-effort... rather than an intimate occasion to speak with God through His Spirit?

Consider again this purer, simpler definition of prayer: Prayer is an intimate conversation with the One who passionately loves you and lives in you.

Prayer is not an action. It’s an interaction—and that interaction takes place in and through the Holy Spirit.

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. 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. (Romans 8:26-27)

Prayer isn’t something you do, it’s something that the Spirit, who is in you, does through you! We don’t even have to use words. In our weakness we might not even know what to say, but God knows the mind of the Holy Spirit in us. If you enter an intimate conversation with the One who loves you, the Spirit in you will intercede and lead you.

Lord, I surrender myself to You in prayer. Holy Spirit, pray through me. Keep me from praying in the flesh by staying my mind on who I am because of who You are in me. According to Your will, lay on my heart all that You want to talk about today. Amen.

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