I hope God is speaking to you in powerful ways through this collection of voices; I know He’s speaking to me. Today Leigha Balchus is leading us into Part II of the Contenders of the Faith series: Jude’s instructions to pray in the Spirit. Leigha is fluent in the language of prayer, because prayer has been foundational in her personal story. Her words invite us to notice this hidden yet significant element of our faith.
If you missed any of the previous posts, you can read from the beginning of the series, right here.
Love and the Power of Prayer by Leigha Balchus
But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. (Jude 1:20)
As I sat in the prayer circle waiting my turn, I could feel my heart racing, my palms getting sweaty. I desperately tried to gather my thoughts. What would I say? Everyone else’s prayers sounded so eloquent, so perfect. I didn’t know any scripture to quote. What if I froze and couldn’t find any words at all? I’d look like a fool. I felt like a total fraud. Everything in me wanted to run away and hide. I loved Jesus with all my heart, but what kind of Christian was I if I didn’t know how to pray out loud? I felt ashamed and embarrassed. Have you ever been there? If so, you are not alone.
We are often intimidated by prayer, both corporate and private, because it requires vulnerability and the world tells us that to be vulnerable is to be weak. However, author and researcher, Brené Brown, has discovered through her research that the opposite is true. Being vulnerable actually takes great courage, and with great risk comes great reward. In her book Daring Greatly, she shares that “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
If we want to grow spiritually and strengthen our prayer life, we must be willing to be vulnerable, not just with our peers but with God, and even ourselves. When we are vulnerable before God, it makes our hearts open to receive his love, and when we receive his love, our faith grows. There are no magic words and no script to follow when we pray. He simply wants us to come to him, hearts wide open.
He already knows our burdens, but the free will he offers us means that he allows us the choice of whether to bring them to him or not. God isn’t so much interested in our words TO him as he is in our hearts TOWARD him. I love how R.K. Hughes puts it in Ephesians: the mystery of the body of Christ, “Prayer is not so much the articulation of words as the posture of heart.”
When we are filled up with the love of God, when we are rooted and grounded in his love and when we believe that we are indeed the apple of his eye (Zechariah 2:8), the power of the Holy Spirit is unleashed in us. In fact, in the book of Ephesians, just a few chapters before Paul talks about putting on the full armor of God, he prays these words over the Ephesians.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)
Paul prayed these words because he understood that when we grasp how much God loves us, our eyes are opened to the power that dwells within us as believers in Christ, thus enabling us to pray in the Holy Spirit. It was important for the Ephesians to know this because it is through the power of the Holy Spirit in prayer that we unlock the power of all the other pieces of our spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-17).
In her bible study, The Armor of God, Priscilla Shirer says this about it, “Prayer is the mechanism that brings down the power of heaven into your experience. It is the divinely authorized method that activates your spiritual armor and makes it effective.” Therefore, it is prayer that is our most effective weapon on the spiritual battlefield, so we must never believe the lie that our prayers are not good enough or that they won’t make a difference. They make a huge difference!
We all go through times in our lives when we struggle to have faith and to believe in God’s love for us, but it’s in those times that, just as Paul prayed for the Ephesians, we too, can ask God to open our eyes to the power of the Holy Spirit within us and give us the strength to grasp the depth of his love for us.
If prayer is an area in which you’d like to grow stronger in your spiritual walk, I encourage you to begin each day praying Ephesians 3:16-19 over yourself and your loved ones, and watch God move in mighty ways! The more we practice the discipline of prayer and the more we fill ourselves with God’s Word, the more comfortable praying becomes. Yes, even when it’s our turn in the prayer circle!
Here’s an example of the verses from Ephesians turned into a personal prayer:
Dear God, I pray that out of your glorious riches you may strengthen me with power through your Spirit in my inner being, so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith. And I pray that I may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that I may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19) In Jesus’ name, Amen.
May you go forth and be blessed and always remember that “greater is HE who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
Leigha Balchus is a wife of 18 years and mom to two amazing kids. She is head-over-heels for Jesus and, for the past decade, has followed Him on a great adventure filled with many joys and much sorrow. It is through this journey, when so many times God was all she had to cling to, that she has become so passionate about prayer and the power of His Word.
Leigha is a teacher turned stay-at-home mom who recently decided to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an entrepreneur as a Distributor for SeneGence International.
In her spare time, she loves to cook, read and, most recently, play with make-up because, in the words of C. S. Lewis, “You’re never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.”
What is God confirming or clearing up for you in regards to prayer? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. This Wednesday (over on my Facebook page), I want to talk about how understanding the Spirit’s role in our lives can recharge our prayer lives as we contend of the faith.
When you subscribe to carried by love and leave a comment on any of the posts written by my guest bloggers, you’ll automatically be entered to win a copy of Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin. I’ll announce the winner of the giveaway at the end of the series.
Grab your free download of Jude1:20-21 here.
If you missed any of the videos from this series, you can tune in here:
[New Series] Intro: FAITH
Part I: IDENTITY