"Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints." Ephesians 6:18
This verse is familiar to many of us, but can be so easily overlooked. The idea of staying alert and persevering in prayer is a fairly fundamental concept. When we sit down, we might usually start our prayers the same way: "Dear God," or, "Father God," or, "Dear Heavenly Father," and so on and so forth. We consider all the praises, people, circumstances, and perhaps struggles or discouragements that we should pray through. We thank God for who he is and the grace he bestows in our lives. We recall Jesus and the cross. Then we say something along the lines of, "In Jesus name I pray, Amen." Sound familiar? This is mostly spot on for the way I usually pray.
However, if you're anything like me, when reading the scripture above you completely overlooked that Paul said to pray "in the Spirit." What exactly does this mean?
"In the Spirit" in Greek (ἐν πνεύματι) literally means to pray in, at, with, on, through, by, or among the Spirit. To pray in the Spirit is to lend your mind, body, thoughts, and strength to the Spirit. Praying is the Spirit means you aren't quickly thinking through a sentence or three to present a quarter-hearted request or petition to God, but that you're thoroughly and deliberately lending your entire, undivided attention to the Almighty and perfect Creator with whom you're conversing.
When Jesus prayed sweat like drops of blood in Gethsemane (Luke 22:44), he was praying with all his mind and strength. He experienced anguish and deep, unveiled emotions in prayer, expending such strength and might that, though an angel came to strengthen him, he still prayed even more earnestly. Praying in the Spirit means we pray until we are truly, deeply, and wholly connected with God. It means we open our heart to the Spirit within us and use our entire heart, soul, mind, and strength to cry out to God about the deepest skeletons in the darkest part of our minds. Praying in the Spirit means we conceal nothing from the Spirit of God that lives inside of us.
Now read again: "Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints." Ephesians 6:18
Pray with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Hold nothing back. Reveal every part of your heart to God, and connect with him as deeply as you know how, and then pray more earnestly.