The Holy Spirit Helps Us Pray (Romans Sermon 55 of 120)
February 10, 2002 | Andrew Davis
The Holy Spirit, Prayer
The Extraordinary Prayer Life of John Hyde
Please take your Bibles and open to Romans 8:26-27. We heard those two powerful verses read for us earlier. Today we are going to talk about the mystery of prayer, and specifically how the Holy Spirit helps us in prayer. When I was in seminary I learned about a man named John Hyde, a missionary to India and one of the greatest men of faith and prayer that this world has ever seen. And when he went as a missionary to India, he was soon, as you can well imagine in that populous nation, overwhelmed by the needs that he saw. Being a man of God and being a missionary and a preacher of the Word, he understood that the most significant needs of the people were spiritual. They did not know Jesus as Lord and Savior. And he began to be burdened. And he was not satisfied with the progress that they were making. He was not satisfied with the Word going out and not coming back with conversions. He wanted to see people saved. And so he began to pray. And God led him in a significant way to begin to trust Him for one soul a day. That he would have the privilege of leading one person to Christ every day. And God answered that prayer.
And it wasn't long before he added another and started praying for two a day, that he might have the privilege of leading two people to Christ every day. By the time he was finished with his missionary work he was up to four people a day. Trusting God for their salvation, and seeing repeated answers to prayer. So that's what he prayed for, but it doesn't touch how he prayed. And I have an account here of a way that this man prayed related by Dr. Wilber Chapman who wrote about it to a friend. Now Dr. Chapman was an English preacher, and they were having a revival service. And this is what he wrote.
"I have learned some great lessons concerning prayer. At one of our missions in England the audience was exceedingly small, but I received a note saying that an American missionary was going to pray for God's blessing down on our work. He was known as 'praying Hyde.' [That was his nickname, 'praying Hyde']. Almost instantly the tide turned, the hall became packed. And at my first invitation 50 men accepted Christ as their Savior. As we were leaving I said, 'Mr. Hyde I want you to pray for me.' He came to my room, turned the key in the door and dropped on his knees and waited five minutes without a single syllable coming from his lips. I could hear my own heart thumping and his beating. I felt hot tears running down my face. I knew I was with God. Then with upturned face, while the tears were still streaming, he said, 'Oh God.' And then for five minutes again, at least, he was still. And then when he knew he was talking with God, there came from the depth of his heart such petitions for me as I had never heard before. I rose from my knees to know what real prayer was. We believe that prayer is mighty and we believe it as we never did before."
Now that's a prayer meeting. Have you ever prayed like that? I really can't say that I have. I've had times in which God has lifted me up and I've prayed in a more significant, in a more Spirit-filled way, but never like that. And I think to myself, all of us feel our weakness, especially in prayer, don't we? Don't you feel your weakness when it comes to prayer? Can any of you testify and say, "I am a hundred percent satisfied with my prayer life? It's everything that I want it to be." Can you say that? I can't. And so I feel my weakness.
And it's a beautiful thing that this passage on prayer and specifically on the Holy Spirit's ministry to us in prayer begins with a testimony to our weakness. Look what it says in verse 26, it says, "In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness." Do you feel your weakness today? Do you feel the weakness of your faith? Do you feel your weakness in prayer?
I. The Promise and Fulfillment of Prayer
Well, I want you to know that God has made promises concerning prayer, lavish promises. I think he means to fulfill them in you individually and in us corporately through the power of the Holy Spirit. And only by the power of the Holy Spirit can we pray as God intends. It says in Zechariah 12:10, this is an old Testament promise, an ancient promise, and this is what it says, "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me the one they have pierced." That's a powerful testimony isn't it. A promise that God will pour out on the Jews a spirit of grace and supplication.
What is supplication? It is prayer. And not just any prayer, but prayer from the heart. And I will pour out on them a spirit of prayer. We receive these promises, this promise given to the Jews. We receive it by extension, we who are Gentiles, we've come in to all the promises of God, they are yes and amen in Christ. And so we also receive the Spirit of supplication. And this Spirit is fulfilled even in our text.
In Romans 8:15 it reads, "You have received the spirit of sonship, and by Him we cry out, 'Abba Father."' We cry out to God Abba Father. What is that, but prayer? It's a fulfillment of Zechariah 12:10 for us who are Gentiles. Every Christian, the moment you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are given the spirit of supplication, the Holy Spirit. And immediately as a child of God, a newborn child of God you begin to breathe prayers to God. You begin to speak to Him and call him Abba Father. but yet God is calling us (I believe) to a deeper a fuller and a richer prayer life than we've ever experienced before. Jesus Christ commanded lavishly in Matthew 7:7-8, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." Lavish promises, and a command to pray.
John 16:23-24 it says the same thing. "I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in My name. Until now you've not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." Jesus said that if you believe, you'll receive whatever you ask for in prayer. These are lavish promises and commands aren't they, for prayer? And we have throughout
Church history many examples of those who have believed these promises. Not just praying Hyde, we've talked earlier about George Müller. This man trusted God for over 10,000 orphans; on his knees every day praying for daily bread, and for the needs of these people. 10,000 orphans. Prayed for them daily, and in good Prussian style kept a careful record of all of his prayers. Every single one of them and all that had been answered. Wouldn't it be great to go through those notebooks and see what God did? The details and how strong was his faith at the end of his life.
David Brainerd, the missionary to Indians during the 1700s poured out his heart daily in longing for Heaven. "Oh that I might not loiter in my Heavenly journey" he would say. He was praying that his heart would be wrapped up, so wrapped up in Heaven that he would care nothing for the things of this world. That was David Brainerd. Then there was Martin Luther who said he was so overwhelmed with all the work and the business of a certain day that he had to pray twice as long that day. What would we do? Pray half as long if at all. But he believed in prayer and he lavished prayer on God and God lavished answers back. And then there was William Carey who had a world vision in prayer. Many examples of those who have taken these promises. What about you? Where's your prayer life? What about me? Where is mine?
As we look at the Apostle Paul, he also is an example of this. Put your finger here in Romans 8, and look back at Romans 1:9-10. And this is a tendency I've seen in the Apostle Paul and confirmed in numerous places. Actually beginning at verse 8 it says "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world." Isn't that marvelous? What does he thank God for? The faith of the Romans. "Thank you God that they're believers, and not only that but their reputation is spreading all over the world. Thank you God for that." But he goes on. He says "God whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the Gospel of His Son as my witness, how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times, and I pray that now at last by God's will, the way may be open for me to come to you." And so Paul is praying constantly for the Roman Christians.
Now, look over at Roman's 15:30 and following. Romans 15:30 "I urge you brothers," he says there "By our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and together with you, be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen." What is he doing there? He's saying "Please pray for me. Pray for my mission, pray for my work. Pray that I might be delivered and rescued from those who would attack me."
And so at the beginning of his letter to Romans, he says "I pray for you all the time," at the end of his letter, he says "Please pray for me." He does the same thing in many other epistles, he says "I pray for you." He asked, "Will you pray for me?" And so he is dependent on prayer as he is also faithful in prayer.
II. Our Weakness and Prayer
But my question is, "What is prayer? Or why are we so weak in it? And, specifically from this text in Romans 8:26-27, what is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to us in prayer?"
Let's look first at our weakness and prayer in verse 26, it says "In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness." Well what weakness are we talking about? Well you have to understand the phrase, "In the same way." He's connecting this to what we have just talked about. What did we just talk about? Well in Romans 8:18-25, it talks about our physical bodies and how they're breaking apart, and how the physical world around us is groaning. We ourselves groan and the creation around us groans. And so we learn here in Romans 8:26-27 that the Spirit groans with us. Do you see how that works? We're in a time of groaning. We're in this present age of suffering and physical trial and death. This is a hard world for a believer.
And so we're in a time of present weakness and our enemies, which are arrayed around us, are too strong for us. They're too mighty. And so we have indwelling sin, and we have external enemies that are fighting us. And so it's a time of weakness, but it's also weakness for ourselves in prayer. He goes on to say "We do not know what we ought to pray for." And so we have a weakness, we're ignorant, we don't know what to pray for, we're weak in terms of our desire to pray, we don't want to pray. We're weak in every way and so the Spirit has come to help us in our weakness.
Now, prayer is part of the work that the Holy Spirit does in us to assure us that we are Christians, right? The whole chapter, Romans chapter 8 is given that we may know with a full certainty of faith, a full assurance that we're going to heaven. God wants you to live that way. And as a matter of fact, if you really understood the reality is what we're talking about heaven and hell, eternity in heaven, or eternity in hell, and you had no assurance of salvation, how would you live? Everything would be different. All of your good works would ultimately be self-focused, I believe. And so God wants to give you assurance of salvation and then send you out to do the good works in a whole different way. And so He's working assurance of salvation in us. Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:39 says that nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. No condemnation all the way to no separation.
I've repeated that about five or six times, but you get it. Romans chapter 8, it's assurance. It's giving a message of assurance and right in the middle of it is this issue of prayer. And so a healthy Spirit-led, Spirit-endowed prayer life is great assurance for the Christian. Is it not? But what's remarkable to me here is that it doesn't tell us to pray. Have you noticed that? As with much of what Paul does, is there any command in here that we should pray? He's just telling us what is... He's telling us what the Holy Spirit does. He's not telling you to pray, he's telling you actually you're weak in prayer, and so the Holy Spirit is given to help. We have a weakness in prayer.
Jonathan Edwards, preaching a sermon in the 1700s, entitled it, "Hypocrites Deficient in Private Prayer." That's a potent title, isn't it? What's a hypocrite? Somebody who claims to be a Christian, but they're really not. And what is he saying? He's saying, there's no secret or private prayer. They don't go into their room, close the door and pray to their Father who's unseen. That's not part of their life. They may pray publicly, they may pray at dinner, they may pray when called upon, but there's no secret private prayer. It's not a part of their lives. But I began thinking about that title, and I said, "Hypocrites Deficient in Private Prayer," who isn't deficient in private prayer? Isn't that all of us? Aren't we all deficient to some degree in our private prayer lives? And so we must understand again, the ministry of the Holy Spirit given to strengthen us in our prayers. How are we weak? Well, first of all, we don't pray. In James 4:2 it says, "You do not have, because you do not ask God."
How many things come along in your life and you realize later, I never prayed about that? Whether it be a financial situation or a health issue, or a friend had a problem, you've even perhaps promised to pray and then you realize later you didn't pray. I've tried to get it in the habit of praying immediately for needs that are given me because of this problem that I have. I've sometimes kept a little notebook with me in my pocket to write them down immediately because I feel so ashamed when I see the person later and that situation has been resolved and they thank you for praying and you think, "Gee I hope somebody prayed because I didn't." James 4:2. Oh no, I'm a pastor, this is on tape, isn't it? Sometimes I don't pray the way I should. You don't have because you don't ask God. We also don't pray for the right things. "When you ask you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures," said James. So not only do we not pray, we also don't pray for the right things. We're weak in prayer. He says it here in verse 26, "we do not know what we ought to pray for."
We don't pray in the right way, we don't pray in faith believing, we don't pray in humility, recognizing that we're not the king of the world. We don't pray with boldness, the boldness of a child of God, and we don't pray with thankfulness, we don't pray as we ought to. And more than that, we don't persevere in prayer. We pray for a little while and then fizzle out, and so we're weak in prayer. I guess, as we look at it, we have trouble both in the matter and in the manner of prayer. In the matter of prayer, whether we pray at all or what we should pray for and in the manner of prayer, mainly how we go about praying, and in this way, the Holy Spirit has been sent to help us.
III. The Holy Spirit Helps Us in Prayer
Now, the Holy Spirit helps us in prayer, but I think to be honest with you, the burden of this text is not how He assists us to pray better. The burden of this text is how He just prays for us. Look at it again in verse 26-27, "In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we are to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." Do you see that? It's almost by contrast, we don't pray well, but the Spirit does, do you see that? The Spirit does, He prays for us and He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
So really to some degree, it's a little bit trickery for me to be talking anything at all about your prayer life here. I'm really talking primarily about the Spirit's intercession for you, because that's what the text talks about. But I want to talk about your prayer life because the Spirit does help you to pray. We are commanded elsewhere to pray in the Spirit, and so I think this is a vital text for understanding that. Jesus Christ has not left us as orphans, He says that in John 14, the night before He died. He was about to die, the disciples were about to see their Savior dead on the cross, and they didn't understand what was going on. They were filled with grief, they were filled with struggle, and Jesus is so compassionate for them. In John, He spends time with them, He teaches them, He gets them ready. He said in John 13:19 "I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He." And so he's getting them ready, and one of the things He does is talks to them about the Counselor, the Comforter that He's going to send. He says, "I will ask the Father and He will give you another Counselor to be with you." Do you realize you have the indwelling Holy Spirit in you as a result of prayer? Jesus prayed for you.
And the Father sent the Counselor, the Comforter, to you as a response to Jesus' prayer for you. "I will ask the Father and He will send the Comforter." Do you see the confidence that Jesus has? I will ask and He will send. That's the confidence that Jesus has in prayer. "…the Spirit of truth, the world cannot accept Him because it neither sees Him or knows Him but you know Him for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you." Neither has He left us as orphans in our prayer life either. We have fellowship with God through the Holy Spirit and in prayer and so the Spirit prays for us constantly.
"The Spirit," it says in Verse 26, "intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." And it says again in verse 27, "The Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." Well, who does He intercede to? Well, He who searches our hearts is God the Father. He intercedes to God the Father for you. The Holy Spirit is speaking to God the Father for you. He's interceding right now that you will listen to the Word. He's praying for you right now, the Spirit is interceding to God the Father for you and what power is there in God, the Father. He is Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth. He is king of the universe and the Spirit has free access right into His throne and He prays in accordance with God's will. There's a perfect intercession here. In the NIV it says "in accordance with God's will…" But literally in verse 27 it really just says "in accordance with God."
The Spirit intercedes for the saints according to God. What does that mean? I think probably two things. Number one is that He was appointed to that task. The Spirit was given the work to do. He's assigned the task. He's given the place, the position of prayer for you and so He's praying for you. It's His place to do so and He's going to be faithful to do that work until the end comes.
But in accordance with God also means what He prays for. He knows what to pray for. He prays for you in accordance with God's will for you. What does that mean? Well, in 1 John 5:14-15, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And we know that if He hears us whatever we ask we know that we have what we asked of Him." What is that saying? If you pray according to God's will, what do you get? You get a yes. A yes and Amen. I will give it to you.
I've thought often about this. I love sports. What is my batting average in prayer? How often do I get the things that I asked for? I don't know. I'm not George Muller. I'm not a Prussian. I don't keep careful records of all my prayer requests. I wonder what it would be, what my batting average is. How about you? What is your batting average in prayer? How many times do you get the thing you ask for? Now, let me turn it around. What is the Holy Spirit's average in prayer? How often does He get what He asks for? Answer: every single time without fail. And why? Because He prays according to God. In accordance with the will of God, He prays for you. That's how He prays a perfect intercession and He's praying according to God's will.
Well, what is God's will? Big picture. Understand what is the big picture of God's will. Read verses 28-30. We're going to look at it more carefully next week, but look, this is the will of God. This is what He's doing. "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. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son that He might be the firstborn among many brothers." I'll read that again. "That He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined He also called and those He called He also justified and those He justified He also glorified."
So the end of verse 29 and the end of verse 30 are the same thing. You being conformed to Jesus perfectly and you being glorified are the same thing and that's what the Spirit is praying for ultimately for you and not just for you but for all the chosen of God. We'll talk about that next week but that's what he's working toward. And He gets what He asks for. He prays for you in accordance with God's will that you may be glorified and He knows that there are steps along the way. He knows every step of the journey and He knows not only the big picture but all of the minor pictures along the way and he prays for everything in accordance with God's will.
But it's also intimate intercession. It says "He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." There's a searching of the mind. The spirit moves through the mind of God and the Spirit moves through our minds and brings them together in a marvelous and mysterious way. There's an intimate intercession. The Spirit knows the Father's thoughts completely. The Spirit brings the Father's thoughts to you. The Spirit takes your thoughts and brings them to God. There's an intimate intercession. It's also a spiritual intercession. Look at verse 26. "…the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." The word here in the Greek is usually translated mute. What is someone who is mute? They cannot speak words. There aren't no words when the Spirit intercedes. You say, "How can He do that for millions of people praying for absolutely everything we need, big picture and in details for everybody all over the world that He's praying for? How could He do it? They're just isn't time in the day."
Our thoughts of God are too small. I am speaking to you in words now, I'm speaking English, that's the only language I'm fluent in and I used to speak Japanese. If I were to speak some Japanese here you would get nothing out of my sermon. I know because I sat through two years of Japanese sermons and got nothing out of them because I couldn't understand a word. And what do we do? We take truth and we encode it in words, nouns, and verbs and adjectives. And it's like a train, like a freight train, and it pulls into the depot of your mind and dumps its truth in there, word by word, line by line. It's so pedantic, It's so human. The Holy Spirit doesn't need it. He just intercedes for you. Just like that. Do you understand? Just like that, everything you need has been prayed for. Completely. You don't need words, you don't need nouns and verbs and adjectives to talk to the Father. That's our thing. He can speak that in 1 Corinthians 2:9-14, I urge you to look at it. It's a parallel passage to one we're looking at today. It says that, it has not entered in the mind what God has planned. Eyes not seen, ears not heard. Neither has it entered into the mind of man what God has prepared for those who love Him.
Read the next part, "These things God has revealed it to us through His spirit." And He who searches them, the mind brings the truth of God to our minds directly. Do You see what I'm talking about? So he can speak English words to us. He can do that. Sometimes He speaks to your mind directly without words. Just boom and you get the truth. But He can speak words and he can put spiritual truth into spiritual words so that we understand. So it's a spiritual intercession as well and it's also a passionate intercession. He groans with you. Do you understand what that means? He's groaning with you. He's feeling your passions. He is a passionate being. The Holy Spirit is not a force. He's a person and He has passion and His intercession for you is passionate. Do you understand what I'm saying? There's a passion there. He rejoices over your successes. He grieves over your disobediences and He prays accordingly based on what you need. Now later in this chapter, not today, we are going to be talking also about Christ's intercession for us. Look down at verse 34. "Christ Jesus, who died, more than that who was raised to life is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." Do you see that?
So you have the Holy Spirit praying for you and you have the Son of God praying for you. Are you not covered in this chapter with prayer? You are just prayed for. You are thoroughly prayed for. Now we as children of God should pray for each other, but you are well prayed for all the time. The Spirit prays for you and the Son prays for you and they do not fail.
IV. The Spirit’s Help in the Matter of Prayer
Well, that's the center of this message, but I want to talk a little about how He helps you in your prayers too. The Spirit prays for you but the Spirit also assists you in your prayer and He helps you in the matter of prayer. What do I mean by that? Well, I mean what to pray for and whether we should even pray at all. He helps us there. Verse 26, "We do not know what we ought to pray for." We don't have the sense of the purpose of God, do we? The big picture? What is God doing in the world? We don't have that. Nor do we have the detailed understanding step by step of how to get there. We also don't believe or don't understand, or even know the promises of God. So we don't pray according to the promises of God. We don't know the procedures along the way. Those minor things and we don't look to the source the way we should. Now what is the source of information?
How do we know what to pray for? Two things; number one, the Spirit instructs us through the Scripture. As you read the Scripture and saturate your mind in the Bible, you will know what to pray for. William Gurnall said, "The mightier anyone is in the Word, the mightier he will be in prayer." Some believe, and I think it's true, we should only pray those things revealed in Scripture or in accordance with what's revealed in Scripture. Christopher Nice put it this way, "Where God has not a mouth to speak, men must not have a tongue to ask." I believe that. I think we should pray according to the promises and the purposes of God as revealed in Scripture. But secondly, the Spirit also directly communicates to you what to pray for sometimes. In Acts 13 it says, "In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers," and it lists them and then it says, "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.'" And so after fasting and praying, they sent them out.
Don't you think after the Spirit spoke that. They prayed differently than they had been before that, They started praying for Paul and Barnabas' first missionary journey. You understand? So the Spirit communicates and navigates through history as new things come up, we start to pray according to the Spirit. We pray in the Spirit as He leads. So He helps us in the matter of prayer, namely what we should pray for, but even more He helps us in the inclination to pray. What does that mean? He helps you to want the things God wants. He helps you to be hungry for what God's hungry for. He helps you to yearn for what God is yearning for. How does He do that? By changing you and moving in you, by working in you. He gives you, as one black preacher put, I love this. "You gotta have the 'want to.'" Do you have the want to? Do you want to pray? When given a choice of the way to spend the afternoon, do you spend it in prayer or something else? Do you have the want to? The Spirit gives you the want to. He gives you the inclination and to want the things that God wants. And I think that's why we need to pray. We are not done yet, are we? We were not finished in our salvation. Do you want what God wants for you? Or do you want something else? The Holy Spirit moves in you to want what the He wants for you and to give you the inclination to pray.
V. The Spirit’s Help in the Manner of Prayer
Well, the Holy Spirit also helps us in the manner of prayer. Not only do we not know what to pray for and not only are we not inclined to pray at all but when we pray our prayers are weak and lifeless, they lack zeal. What is the model of our prayer? Is it not Jesus, how did Jesus pray in Gethsemane? You remember that? In Luke chapter 22 it says and being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
Hebrews chapter 5 says during the days of Jesus' life on earth He offered prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death and He was heard because of His reverent submission. And so He prayed fervently. James 5:16 says in the King James Version "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Are your prayers effectual and fervent? Are they prayers on fire? Do you pray in the manner of the Spirit? Well the Spirit helps us, He gives us empowerment. Our prayers are weak because they are faithless. We don't believe that God will answer and so we don't receive answers.
Thomas Watson said this, "Prayer that is faithless is fruitless." If your prayer life is fruitless, could it be that you don't believe that it's going to do anything? The Spirit works faith in us. Jude 20, "But you dear friends," write that one down. That's such a great verse Jude 20. "But you dear friends build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit." Do you hear that? I think build yourselves up in the faith means read the Scripture. And then pray accordingly. Pray in the Spirit. He gives us faith. He also gives us endurance, He works endurance in us. Colossians 4:12, "Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you that you may be matured and fully assured." He's wrestling, would you like to have an Epaphras praying for you? He's wrestling in prayer for you. Images of Jacob wrestling with the angel, wrestling, he's not giving up, he's going to keep at it, he's going to keep praying.
How's your endurance in prayer? Is it good? The Holy Spirit can work endurance in you. The Holy Spirit can also work passion in you. He impassions you in prayer. Cold and lifeless prayers are unwelcome in heaven. Thomas Brooks said this, "Cold players always freeze before they reach heaven." I love that. We don't need cold players, we need prayers on fire, prayers like John Hyde prayed. Praying passionately. Hudson Taylor looked at a map of China and he knew that all the missions were along the coast, just along the coast and they were vast inland regions of China that had never been touched with the gospel and he just fell on his knees before the map and he said "God give me China or I die." Give me China or I die. Do you pray for anything like that? Maybe if your child had a dread disease or your spouse you might, but we could pray for the things of God that way too, Hudson Taylor did and John Hyde did as well. In passion.
And then finally the Holy Spirit works integrity in us. God does not listen to the prayers of people who choose sin. I'll say that again, God does not hear prayers from people who choose sin. And I'm not talking about stumbling, the Scripture says we all stumble in many ways, James says that. And this is how David put it in Psalm 66:18,"If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have heard my prayer." Do you hear that? If I cherish sin, if there's some pet sin, something I'm holding on to, God will not hear your prayers. Your prayers are ineffective. Isaiah 59:1-2, "Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save nor is ear too dull to hear but your iniquities have separated you from your God and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear." And so if you want a healthy strong fruitful prayer life, you must have integrity, you must be a consistent spirit-filled Christian following the Holy Spirit putting sin to death in your life and God will see that you receive answers in prayer.
1 Peter 4:7, "The end of all things is near, therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray." Turn it around, if you're not clear minded and self-controlled you will not be able to pray. John Bunyan put it this way, "Prayer drives sin out or sin drives prayer out." They're mutually incompatible. Has sin driven prayer out of your life? Ask the Lord by the power of the Spirit to bring it back and then chase sin out of your life.
Today we've looked at what the Holy Spirit does for us in prayer, He prays for us according to God, He also moves in us that we may pray according to God's will as well. He instructs us what to pray for, He gives us an inclination to pray, that's the matter of prayer, and in the manner He gives us empowerment through faith, building our faith. He gives endurance to stay with it and pray daily sometimes for years. He gives us impassioned prayers, not cold prayers and He gives us a life of integrity so that God will hear our prayers.
Now I've given you some applications on your bulletin, you can look at them when you get home, but we're coming now to a time with the Lord's Supper. And this is a good time for you to humble yourself before God, to just bow down right in the pew where you are, and to take advantage of some quiet moments to allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart. To allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you, about your life, about your prayer life, yes but about everything. And that you might be clean through confession of sin and ready to receive the Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper is for Christians, it's for people who have been baptized, who have trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, welcome at the Lord's Supper. It's for sinners, but sinners who have been forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ. But we must come and eat in a manner worthy of the Lord. Take advantage of these few minutes or a few moments to allow the Holy Spirit to search you, that you might be prepared to take the supper of the Lord. And then after a little while, I'll lead us into the Lord's supper.