Prayer and the Soul
“Hear my prayer, O Lord…
For the enemy has persecuted my soul” (Ps. 143:3)
When in prayer, it is essential to lay every feeling (the heart), thought (the mind), and desire (the will) of the soul before God. When seeking God and His will for our lives, the child of God must present a sincere heart and a clear conscience at the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16).
Prayer is a living, functioning response to a living and spiritual relationship with our Father God through Jesus Christ his Son with the aid of his Holy Spirit. This is necessary in order to have a meaningful and effectual prayer life. For pray, although it is about human beings made in the image of God, it is not about personal feelings but faith and eternal realities. Let us notice,
1. These words of the psalmist: speak of spirituality. They express the spiritual side of the writer’s personality. Man's relationship with God, the Bible says, is mediated through a holy spirituality that is found only in Jesus Christ (Rom 5:1).
This spirituality is essential to communication with God and is found when in faith, trust and hope we ask according to His will (1 John 5:14). In his spirituality the Psalmist seeks for God (v.7).
2. These words of the psalmist: speak of intercession. He lifts his soul unto God (v.8b) and (i) seeks guidance, saying, cause me to know the way in which I should walk (vv.8, 10). He also (ii) seeks assurance when he asks; “cause me to hear your loving kindness,” (v.8a). Trust in Christ flows from an assured heart.
The Holy Spirit, ‘works in the inner recesses of our being to persuade us that we belong to the Father.’ He also (iii) makes strong pleading, often with tears. This kind of prayer is called 'supplication' (v.1) and is prayer which entreats and implores God for help. We should pour out our heart to the Saviour (v.4).
3. These words of the psalmist: speak of worship. Worship is prayer and praise but it is also accompanied by the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit. 'Worship' says Bernard Lord Manning, 'is the human soul presenting itself before God'. This is what the Psalmist is doing; he worships God with a soul that is set free because of faith, hope and love. He believes in the mercy of God (v.2).
Prayer must be made with a clear conscience and without hypocrisy to be real. “It is not enough to yield assent to the divine word unless that it is accompanied with true and pure affection, so that our hearts are not double or divided”.
4. These words of the Psalmist: speak of adoption. The Holy Spirit seals the truth of God to the heart of all who believe (Eph. 1:13) and by the Spirit of adoption the sons of God make their supplication crying, 'Abba, Father' (Rom. 8:15; Gal 4:6). The gift of sonship is from God. He becomes ours, not through being born, but through being born again (1 John 2:29).
The ministry of the Spirit of adoption brings us into a deep-seated persuasion that we really are the sons of God and ‘the Spirit of God confirms our self-awareness through his testimony’.
There is no true worship without adoption. This is because God has given his Spirit to us and this does something to us and in us (Rom 8:16 & 29f), then we know the inner work of the Spirit in the soul. How does it work? 'The Holy Spirit', says Sinclair Ferguson, ‘works in the inner recesses of our being to persuade us that we belong to the Father. It is [a] ‘deep, inward consciousness.’
Rev Ian S McNaughton is presently serving as the Vice-Chairman of Barnabas Fund in the UK.
Photo by Ruben Hutabarat on Unsplash
For Other articles by Rev Ian S McNaughton
Praying Well - Part 2