So much has been written and said about the spiritual discipline of prayer that one has to wonder what else could be said about it. In fact, it is my belief that so much has been said about prayer that not all of it could possibly be true. When I obtained the domain name of this website, one of my original objectives for this website was to perform an analysis of Prayer (among other things) that followed the methodology unique to this website to separate the wheat from the chaff. Since that analysis of prayer would take up an entire section by itself, I will confine myself to where Symbiosis intersects prayer.
The only passage relating the Holy Spirit to prayer is found in Romans 8:26-27:
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit , because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
I have taken the liberty of color coding the pronouns to link them to their referents since the usage of verse 27 is somewhat confusing. The words in red refer to God, and the link for the words "searcheth the hearts" is to Jeremiah 17:10, which was the Old Testament verse that Paul must have had in mind when he chose them. The word LORD, in all capital letters, is an indication of the presence of the Tetragrammaton in the Hebrew text: YHWH, which has so many modern pronunciations because the original one from the tounge of God given to Moses was lost due to a mistaken reverence on the part of the Hebrews and Jews. The hearts referred to are the hearts of men. In that search, YHWH is said to know the mind of the Spirit. It is almost as if, in searching those hearts, YHWH finds The Spirit within those hearts. Recall this discussion of the Holy Spirit being given as an earnest, and the assertion that the transfer is permanent. The second "he" in verse 27 doubless refers to "The Spirit", since the Spirit is said to make intercession in verse 26, and it is ridiculous to believe that an intercessor and the one to whom intercession is made are one and the same entity. The Greek word used in the second usage of "intercession" carries the implication of the intercessor "going to" the one to whom intercession (on our behalf) is being made. If this passage does not imply the separateness in the Trinity between YHWH and The Spirit that a permanent transfer of The Holy Spirit to us means, then I don't know how to parse English.
Recall that Jesus called The Holy Spirit the Comforter and the Advocate: intercession on our behalf is what our Advocate does. An "Advocate" that doesn't go on our behalf to someone else and doesn't intercede to them for us on our behalf is not an Advocate at all in the enormously rich meaning of the Greek word that Jesus used. Put another way, an Advocate was sought precisely because those needing the advocate did not know the best way to frame the petition expressing their needs and desires: they needed someone who knew what made the "intercessee" "tick". The advocate was sought because he knew "the right buttons to push". Another interesting point about the second usage of "intercede" is that it is also used in Hebrews 7:25 to refer to the intercession that Jesus Christ, our High Priest, does to save us. This emphasizes the connection that exists between the Holy Spirit in us and Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ interecedes for us with regard to salvation and the forgiveness of our sins, while the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with regard to all else that touches us.
The goal of all this is to help us grasp the realization of how much is being done on the part of God to ensure that our prayers are answered. Answered prayer is supposed to be the norm, not the exception.
These facts explain a mystery regarding prayer that is given in 1 John 5:14-15:
14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
Every book and our experience with prayer consistenly tell us that we do not get everything we ask for in prayer (a circumstance for which the truly wise man thanks God). Every expositor on prayer concentrates on the fact that the prayer must be in accordance to God's will, and much discourse is expended on the necessity of subjecting ourselves to God's will. However, verse 15 implies that if God hears us, "whatsoever we ask" is granted. If the Holy Spirit is within us, and he is one with the Father, then if the Holy Spirit hears us, doesn't God the Father hear us as well at the same time? The answer is that the Holy Spirit is, in a legal sense, no longer "part" of God the Father but "belongs to us". He is our earnest, and an earnest is "ours", not anyone else's.
This implies a change in the nature of the communications channel between us believers and God the Father. Recall that scriptures say that both Jesus Christ and angels have directed that prayers be directed to God the Father. Nonbelievers who do not have the Spirit are still heard by God, but only in the same way that the omniscence and omnipresence of God enables him to know when a sparrow falls to the gound. With the coming of the Holy Spirit as the Symbiote residing within the heart of the believing Host, the only channel between God and man is through the Holy Spirit. Thus, grieving the Holy Spirit is equivalent to removing that channel and permanently isolating the offender from God. There is a spiritual "dropping off of the radar". In a sense, the offender is known, but unheard, by omniscence. He is noted, but unacknowledged, by omnipresence.
This set-up is a sort of mixed blessing with regard to Prayer: If what you want is in accordance to the Will of God, there is a guarantee that the Spirit will translate it and pass it on, and in that passing it on, there is a guarantee of an answer. The Spirit has a 100% success rate for prayers passed on to the Father. What is less than 100% successful is the pass rate of prayers we make that the Spirit does not deem worthy to pass on. In a sense, it makes no difference if we say "if it be thy will": a prayer that is not in God's Will will not be passed on by the Holy Spirit, so He won't even hear the "if it be thy will". And because the promise is that any prayer that is passed on is in God's will, then adding "if it be thy will" is redundant. It should be pointed out that it is the duty of the Advocate to advise the petitioner of the liklihood that the petition would be granted or refused, and to refuse to intercede if intercession would do no good, or make the petitioner's situation worse. The Advocate is always working in favor of the petitioner, but if good cannot be done, then his actions must "do no harm".
This should be of some comfort: if there is a problem with our prayers being answered, it is because there is a difficulty that can only be resolved by discussing the matter between us and the Holy Spirit. God, in a sense, never has to say "no": He always says "yes" to every petition that gets to Him, but not every petition we make ever gets to Him. The whole point of Symbiosis is to establish a full communications path between us and the Holy Spirit within us. A benefit of the Symbiotic protocols should be an increase in the number and size of the answers to our prayers because those protocols enable us to get feedback from the Holy Spirit on what we can and cannot pray for, and what needs to be changed in our lives . Thus, problems with unanswered prayer are completely a Host/Symbiote issue, not a Host/Father God issue or a Holy Spirit/Father issue. The solutions are within our "span of control", so to speak.
In view of this, my opinion is that all discussions in books and sermons that answers the question "why did my prayer fail?" by emphasizing that we must conform to God's will before we pray essentially miss the point: A Being of Free Will interacting with beings with free will has three kinds of will. The first kind of will is defined by the things and actions that will always be granted. These are similar to the spiritual egg that the spiritual Father always gives when we, his spiritual children, ask of him. Salvation is one of these first will things, as is wisdom. The second kind of will is defined by the things and actions that will always be denied. Our petition for forgiveness of our sins while we refuse to forgive others their offenses against us is an example of a second will action. Another would be a petition to sleep with our neighbor's wife or to murder him when he is innocent of any evil committed against us. The third kind of will is conditional, where God may or may not grant a thing or action based on circumstances. Riches may be granted to one and not the other because the former can handle it without sin while the character of the latter would make riches a stumbling block. Blessings may be denied now but granted later when the potential recipient has grown in righteousness, faith, knowledge, maturity, and/or understanding. A blessing may be denied because of inadequate faith now, but will be granted later when faith has grown in response to blessings granted for which that lesser faith was adequate. No help may be forthcoming to one living a destructive or wasteful lifestyle now, but would be gladly granted once a lasting change in character or worldview enables the recipient to handle it.
I invite my mathematically inclined readers to mentally construct a Venn diagram where the entire space of possible actions and requests is divided into three regions. In the white region are things or actions of the first kind of will. In the black region are things or actions of the second kind of will. There is a grey area where there are things or actions of the third kind of will. That third region is smaller for some believers than for others, and it grows or shrinks based on the maturity level of the believer. This third region/will is described in James 4:1-10 thusly:
1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
James is talking of third region/third will things and objects in the bolded portion, where one doesn't get those things desired because they don't ask for them. However, even if they were asked for, they were not given because the recipients were too worldly to handle them rightly. Verses 4 through 10 are James' prescription for correcting the problem of lust that prevented them from receiving, and only verse seven talks about submitting to God's will. Like any set of prescriptions, one takes the medicine(s) most applicable to one's particular manifestation of the leprosy of sin. Stage 1 Symbiotic capabilities enable and facilitate application, while Stage 2 symbiotic capabilities enable diagnosis. (And after having mastered our lusts, we usually drop, with some embarrassment, asking for those things that were motivated by that lust. I recall the way a salesman friend regularly and efficiently broke dogs from chasing cars: he stopped his car. The dog, having effectively "caught" the car he was chasing, realized (in the way that dogs realize things like this) that he had no idea of what to do with the now-caught car. He never failed in breaking a dog of the habit, and the owner never failed to wonder aloud why the dog had "mysteriously" ceased from chasing cars.)
My point is that all the books and prayers are essentially correct when it comes to first and second region/will things and actions, but many have missed the implications of third region/will things and actions. They will comment that God's answers to our prayers are "Yes, no, or wait", without realizing or addressing the fact that "wait" is a "yes" that looks like a "no". We know that persistence in prayer is a condition for answering some requests, so the reaction of falsely believing that a "wait" is a "no" is to cease praying. That effectively turns the "wait" into a "no" that would have been a "yes" if persistence in prayer was what God required to turn the "wait" into a "yes".
While Symbiosis explains certain aspects of prayer, there is a practical side to it. For instance, if we were talking about traditional prayer, then Paul's injunction to the Thessalonians to pray without ceasing is terribly impractical except for monks and nuns. However, if prayer to God always involves talking to the Holy Spirit, then the continual interaction between Symbiote and Host that is the mark of Stage 1 "walking according to the Spirit" should also be classified as prayer. Thus, "praying without ceasing" is actually the natural state of an advanced and mature symbiotic Christian. It is unreasonable and ridiculous to demand that we pray (after the traditional manner) even while we sleep. However, if the heart continues to generate thoughts during the night that we call dreams, then the Holy Spirit must necessarily continue His work while the Inner Man is asleep, suppressing and altering the thought processes. I don't know about you, but I've had dreams during the night that "set me up" to fail the next day.
When it comes to prayer, it is obvious that the Spirit knows what we are thinking. However, the nature of the human heart (as the ancients knew it) does not permit us to directly perceive the Holy Spirit: we only perceive thoughts that are generated by a heart that is influenced by the Holy Spirit. The extent of that influence is regulated by permission granted by the Host via the thoughts that the Inner Man of the Host selects. This work suggests that all processes that involve cooperation between a rational Symbiote and Host must follow protocols to maintain a rational and stable feedback cycle of thoughts. Prayer is the Host-to-Symbiote communication that is half of any cooperative protocol. When a host prays a prayer that the Symbiote must massively modify or even refuse to pass on, a stable and rational feedback cycle requires that the Symbiote communicate the status of the prayer back to the host and help the Host in adjusting the prayer or their expectations, just as an Advocate would work with the petitioner to frame an petition prior to presentation that capitalizes on the abilities of the Advocate, and his knowledge of the one being petitioned, to maximize the chances of acceptance. This requires Symbiote-to-Host communications, which is the subject of Stage 2, since such communications require separate protocols. There is a spiritual discipline that partly implements this which we will address on the next page of this essay.
There is a form of prayer that is a Gift of the Spirit: speaking in tounges when there is no one to interpret. The main references are in 1 Corinthians 12-14. It should be noted that the passage in chapter 14 contrasts speaking in tounges as a means of edifying the speaker with prophecy that edifies the church. The Greek word from which "edify" comes is often translated elsewhere as "build"! We are encouraged to edify one another , and we are told that charity (agape love) edifies. However, the actual process of effecting edification that is within our span of control is given in the 1 Corinthians 14 passage: speaking in tounges and prophecy. One has to wonder about the schizophrenia of some church denominations that, on the one hand, vigorously preach and teach the necessity of people to be built up and walk in maturity, and yet condemn, on the other hand, the only means stated in scriptures that cause personal edification. There are a lot of warnings given about the destructive power of the tounge. All of those warnings are manifestly true, yet there is active hostility in some churches that is directed against anyone maniesting the gift of the Spirit that actually controls the tounge. This is insane. This is like working with a customer who is worrying about deer invading his vegetable garden, but complaining that the fence you propose to keep them out would spoil the view! Shouldn't this situation raise some red flags and cause us to deeply question and inquire about it? Shouldn't it arouse our suspicions? I will certainly address this situation in a Stage 4 essay. In the meantime, if you are fortunate enough to speak in tounges, doing so is scripturally supported as a means of prayer that is promised to be particularly powerful in very specific areas.
There is some question as to the benefit of speaking one's prayers (apart from speaking in tounges, which is necessarily verbalized) as compared to just thinking them. Given the location of the Holy Spirit and what Jesus said about the heart with relation to speaking, there is no difference since it is the Holy Spirit that performs the actual relay of the (modified) peititon. However, there is an aspect to speaking, apart from speaking the prayer, that has a meta-symbiotic impact on the cooperative process: voicing a thought selects it. Firstly, voicing a thought requires concentrating on the thought, which effectively selects it. Secondly, the act of voicing necessarily entails hearing what one is saying: vocalists in a band almost always require a special speaker that feeds their voice and that of the accompaniment back directly to them to help them synchronize their voice to the music and other singers. The aspect of hearing, apart from hearing oneself or others, also has a meta-symbiotic impact of a different sort on the cooperative process. We will address that aspect on the page after next.
While on the subject of speaking our prayers, I would like to warn against using over-flowery, ornate, or elaborate speech: It will get filtered and translated anyhow, and the Holy Spirit does a much better and effective job than we could ever hope to do on our own. I am currently being disciplined about this, getting messages from the Holy Spirit that run along the lines of "Oh STOP! You are SO full of it!" or "I'll let that pass untranslated: we can use a good laugh up here." Note that I am referring to elaborate phrasing that does nothing to convey the content of your prayer: when I have a problem that is best stated in technical language, I have found that going ahead and using it almost always gets a relevant response.
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