I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with understanding.~ 1 Corinthians 14:15b
I would like to take a few posts and survey some of the prayers and prayer methodology of the Apostle Paul. Paul is well-known for his fervent proclamation of the Gospel and his tireless defense of sound doctrine. But this dear saint was also a deeply devotional and passionately Spirit-filled man of prayer. With even a cursory reading of Paul’s epistles, one will find a treasure trove of guidance and instruction for their own prayer life. After studying Paul’s prayers, I might even say he is the quintessential New Testament example for believers today. My sincere hope is this series will be of spiritual profit to those who read it.
In 1 Corinthians, the 14th chapter, Paul lays out two guiding principles for his prayer life. Number one, he will pray with the spirit. Number two, he will pray with understanding. Any meaningful and moving prayer will always consist of these two elements. As for praying with the Spirit, it can be said there is no godly prayer without it. Prayers of our own making, prayers of our own strength, without the abiding and enabling help of God’s Holy Spirit are no prayers at all. We pray in the power of the Spirit or not at all. The person who seeks to bring their supplications before the Lord, must first seek and find the communion of the Holy Spirit to make their prayers pleasing and acceptable to God (Romans 8:26-27).
Second, Paul’s desire is to pray with understanding. The idea here is he will pray intelligently, with a working knowledge of how and what to pray for. This is accomplished through the ongoing cultivation of our over-all spiritual life. People learn to pray with more and more spiritual understanding as they grow in their faith and fellowship with Christ and by feasting on His Word. There are those who pray without understanding and you will find them praying in a frivolous and worldly manner. Paul’s principle of praying with the understanding is essential for growth in God and in a purposeful and fruitful prayer life.
If you find yourself struggling to know where to begin in your own prayer life, take these two fundamental principles of the Apostle Paul to heart. Prayer with the spirit and with understanding; they are so important and a prerequisite to finding fulfillment in prayer.