NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from The Gospel Project curriculum.
Bible Passage: Ephesians 6:18-20
Discussion Questions: Do you live with an awareness of the spiritual darkness and evil around us? How does this reality change the way you pray for yourself and others? The Spirit prays for us when we lack the desire to pray. How does this truth impact the way you confront moments of suffering or doubt or temptation?
Food for Thought:
Sometimes, “praying in the Spirit” gets interpreted to mean something like “always be attentive to the presence of God.” In this way, it gets interpreted to mean something passive. But in the verses leading up to this teaching on prayer, Paul warned the church of the spiritual warfare that was happening all around them, warning them to be on guard.
It’s in this light that Paul called us to pray in the Spirit. It’s not a passive reality but something active, something that comes from being alerted and readied. We need a strong sense of the danger that surrounds the Christian — not the flesh-and-blood dangers of social pressure, persecution and scorn, but the forces of darkness that exist in the spiritual realm.
We live now in a secular age where from the time we are children, we’re taught to see the world from a purely materialist perspective. This means what we can see, what we can touch, what we can dismantle or view under a microscope and study in a lab — that’s all there is, all there ever was, and all there ever will be. It’s a way of seeing the world that is ingrained not only in our educational institutions but in all of culture. It’s in our movies and TV shows, in the subtleties of our conversations with our neighbors, in music and art and politics. It makes thinking of God difficult, and thinking of the Devil ridiculous.
The Bible invites us to adopt a different way of seeing the world and calls us to be alert in its midst. There’s more happening than we can see, and if we’re not on guard, we may be subject to something very dark and sinister at work around us. Praying in the Spirit is a response to that awareness. It means, among other things, being “awake” to the fact that we live in a world brimming with spiritual life and vitality. Much of it is a force for evil — the Devil is real, after all — but that evil is outmatched by the presence of God’s Spirit.
Praying in the Spirit, then, is to live in a vigorous and active relationship with God. It’s to live and pray with an awareness of the spiritual realities at work around us and to rest in the confidence that the Spirit is at work, praying for us and upholding us even in our weakness (Romans 8:26-27).
The Gospel Project
The Gospel Project is a Christ-centered curriculum that examines the grand narrative of Scripture and how the Gospel transforms the lives of those it touches. Through a three-year study plan, participants are immersed in the Gospel through stories, theological concepts, and calls to missions from Genesis to Revelation. Separate study plans for kids and students/adults ensure the proper focus and depth. The Gospel Project is designed to unify an entire church under a single Christ-centered curriculum. More information, free samples, and The Gospel Project blog can be found at gospelproject.com.
Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by LifeWay can be found at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool.