Praying from your spirit, praying from your soul

Adapted from the article, “Praying for God.”

person prayingWhen Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Lord, teach us to pray,” he gave them a prayer pattern that we call the Lord’s Prayer. The last half of that prayer teaches us how to pray for people. The first half of the prayer teaches us how to pray for God.

Quite a shock, if you’ve never thought about it – quite an offense to the soul.

Praying from your soul

Typically, we pray from our souls. We pray for people (including ourselves) because people have needs. Indeed, people have a vast array of needs – little needs, overwhelming needs, physical needs, financial needs, spiritual needs, emotional and mental and social needs. We go to God, asking him to meet needs we’ve experienced or heard about or seen. We keep lists to make sure we include all the people and needs we feel responsible to cover. We plead with greater passion when we have a deep emotional connection for the people or the need. We ask for what we think will meet each need best.

When we pray for people, we tend to pray from our souls. But you cannot pray for God from your soul. You cannot mentally figure out how to do it. You cannot summon up an emotional connection. The only emotion you may feel is offense. People everywhere have needs so vast and heavy that you could spend all day every day praying and still not scratch the surface. Yet, you’re supposed to pray first and foremost for the God who has all power and all knowledge, who created everything, who owns everything – who has no needs?

Notice what happens inside you when you pray the words: Give us. Forgive us. Lead us. Deliver us. You’re praying for “us.” You can’t help but identify, mentally and emotionally. That’s a soul connection.

Do you feel the same resonance when you pray these words? Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done.

We can parrot these words that Jesus taught, and we often do. But try as we might, we can’t mentally grasp what we’re asking. We can’t emotionally relate to God’s name, his kingdom, his will.

Praying from your spirit

Good news! The most powerful, effective prayers arise, not from your mind or emotions, but from deeper within. Indeed, they originate from God himself. When you know Christ as Lord, his Spirit lives in you. “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10).

The Spirit calls to your deepest part, your human spirit. You choose whether your spirit will respond, or whether it will continue to be overruled by your boisterous and opinionated soul. As you give your spirit freedom to respond to Christ’s Spirit, you find yourself impelled by something stronger than emotion and more certain than knowledge. As your spirit echoes the yearnings of God’s Spirit, you long for your Father’s name to be hallowed and his kingdom to come. You pray for God.

Often, to your amazement, your soul joins in. It echoes your spirit-yearnings. Your mind and emotions participate joyfully in what they could not start. However, when you are led by the Spirit, not the soul, you don’t quit praying for God or yearning for what he wants when he takes you places that make no sense, places where your emotions scream not to go.

What’s more, when you begin to pray for God from your spirit, you begin to pray for people in the same way. Where before you asked for what you thought they needed, now you ask very different things. You begin to see root issues God wants to address. You begin to glimpse what he is doing. You begin to hear what he is saying. You petition with greater wisdom, power and authority, as Jesus teaches you, Spirit-to-spirit, how to pray.

Read the whole article, “Praying for God.”

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