I'm going to say something very strong here. Our prayers can actually be offensive to the Lord.
What we say to the Lord or what we pray can actually be offensive because the words are of our own mind and motives and not the will of God. This happens often when we only pray with our own understanding and not in the Spirit.
Paul wrote that he prayed with the spirit and with the understanding too. He also sang that way. This implies that what he prayed or sang with the Spirit he interpreted with his understanding. Plainly said, we should do much of our praying in the spirit of in tongues and ask God to help us interpret our prayers.
The other day my son Daniel and I filled in a 2-hour prayer block at our local church, and the Holy Spirit gave me so much utterance and interpretation in prayer and praise that the two hours seemed like 15 minutes. This is how it is with prayer in the Spirit. You lose a certain consciousness of time. If you only pray with your own understanding you are greatly limiting the effect and impact of your prayers. After all, what do we know of the mind of God except what is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit? Praying in the Spirit is praying with God's understanding which is unlimited. Saying or praying words only in our own understanding can actually be offensive to God and get in God's way of what He really desires to accomplish.
Then Peter took Him aside to speak to Him privately and began to reprove and charge Him sharply, saying, God forbid, Lord! This must never happen to You!
But Jesus turned away from Peter and said to him, Get behind Me, Satan! You are in My way [an offense and a hindrance and a snare to Me; for you are minding what partakes not of the nature and quality of God, but of men. (Matt. 16:22-23)
When Jesus began speaking the will of the Father that He was to be killed and then raised from the dead, Peter actually took Him aside and rebuked Him.
Jesus rebuked Satan, who was speaking through Peter, with these words: “You are an offense unto Me.”
What Peter said was offensive to Jesus. It is the same way with us when we say things or pray things that are not the will of God. Personal opinions and personal agendas tainted with our own motives and clouded with our own thinking and mental understanding can be offensive to the Lord and grievous to the Spirit of God. This is why He gave us a prayer language, so our prayers would be acceptable to God. I'll say it again: Praying only with our own mental understanding can be clouded with our own selfish motives.
"Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures." (James 4:3b-4)
Praying in tongues has been called the perfect prayer, and when interpretation accompanies it, our understanding becomes fruitful. But we don't always need interpretation. We can pray in tongues in faith believing we are praying the perfect will of God, and things we simply don't know about.
"So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance." (Romans 8:26)
There should not be a mixture of our own will and God's will in prayer. This is an area in life and in prayer that we should be continually growing in. In the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament we see a type and shadow of the importance of having no mixtures. Purity is important in the kingdom of God and flows over into prayer. Spiritual accuracy is vital to the fruitfulness and and impact of our prayers.
“You shall keep My statutes. You shall not let your livestock breed with another kind. You shall not sow your field with mixed seed. Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you.” (Lev. 19:19)
I've personally witnessed a trend in many churches in recent years. There seems to be less and less prayer in the Spirit or in other tongues, and more and more prayer offered only with our own understanding. This is very limited praying that will produce meager results and impact. Here is my concern as my wife and I step into our latter years.
I'm afraid that there are certain elements of prayer and intercession that will be lost to this generation unless those who are more experienced pass these things on to them by precept and example.
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