Charles Carrin wrote an excellent essay in a recent newsletter titled Three Methods of Prayer: Why Pray in the Spirit? This post is a direct citation of this great article.
The New Testament identifies three types of prayer which are vital to the Christian life. They are:
1. Praying according to human understanding; that is, praying about information that our five senses have told us. I Corinthians 14:15. This prayer is dependent upon knowledge gained by the mind. Information for such a prayer is therefore limited; sometimes characterized by misunderstanding, conflict, and failure. James 4:3.
2. Praying “in the spirit”. 1 Corinthians 14:15; Jude 20. This prayer originates from the specific direction of the all-knowing Holy Spirit. In this prayer, through the gift of tongues, we speak “mysteries” far beyond human comprehension or human language. 1Corinthians 14: 2,14.
3. Praying as “the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with ‘groanings which cannot be uttered.'” Romans 8:26. This groaning-prayer (which is not to be confused with the gift of tongues) originates with Jesus’ intercession at the right hand of the Father. Romans 8:34. In response to His prayer, all creation is now in a state of travailing birth-pangs, waiting for its own deliverance from the “bondage of corruption,” and the simultaneous “manifestation of the sons of God.” Romans 8:19-23. The prayer Jesus began at the Throne is now permeating the entire Universe. Jesus revealed this when He spoke of the capacity of the stones to “cry out.” Luke 19:40. Some individuals also find themselves drawn into this prayer; in its embrace, they become so far removed from all language, so deep in its penetration into the things of God, so infinite in its breadth, that — like a magnet– they are pulled into its wondrous, universal anticipation. While in such intercession, one feels an overwhelming intimacy with creation’s deepest cry for deliverance. This prayer is expressed in wordless groaning. In my opinion it is the most powerful form of prayer available to us.
In examining these types of prayer, we realize the mind has only five natural sources of information. It receives knowledge by what the body tells it through seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling. These are all marvelous senses with which God has equipped mind and body to function together. We thank God for them- though none of these senses are spiritual. Consequently the mind, by itself, is a vastly insufficient tool for the spiritual work of prayer. Christians whose prayer-life is limited to mental-knowledge are depending on human abilities inferior to those of animals. That is a rash statement but before you disregard it please hear what I say.
Animals have senses vastly superior to man’s. A Polar Bear can smell food at a distance of 24 miles. The common housefly can detect and respond to danger in one-two hundredths of a second. The peregrine falcon can see a pigeon 5 miles away and dive at speeds of 217 miles an hour. Also, it has ‘fast’ vision and could actually read print on a whirling airplane blade. An owl can hear the movement of a mouse from two football fields away. Bats fly unaided through a pitch-black cave, sharks can smell a single drop of blood in millions of gallons of water. Your own dog or cat has hearing perception better than you. At a burned out arson site, a dog can smell 1/500,000 of a drum of flammable fuel; his sense of smell is 100 greater than a human’s. The common shrimp can see more colors than we do. The Monarch Butterfly can discern tastes 12,000 times more subtle than a human’s, and with perfect precision, can fly 2,000 miles unaided to a tiny spot in Mexico. What about endurance? Eggs of the tadpole shrimp can survive dormant for centuries at temperatures of more than 150 degrees below zero.
Unlike the limited mental capacities of our human body, the regenerate human spirit is neither confined nor limited. It has potentials greater than all the combined animal abilities I mentioned. Our spirit has access to the gifts of “wisdom and revelation” which equip it to receive and use knowledge directly from the Holy Spirit. This special equipping is the precise function of the “word of knowledge”, “word of wisdom”, “discerning of spirits”, and other gifts of the Holy Spirit. When we pray we should avail ourselves of the ultimate potentials with which the Holy Spirit has endowed us. This becomes our most powerful way to pray! 1Corinthians 12:8-10. CCC
For deeper insight into how GOD the Father sees His children; to better understand the elementary principles of Christ (Hebrews 6:1-3); the ‘mysteries’ of Christ’s Kingdom; and our individual and corporate calling, commission, and empowerment- please review my first published book and the Table of Contents on the Amazon website linked here via Book Title: “Thy Kingdom Come- Here and Now!”