“So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15).

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I pray differently for public consumption, such as aloud at church, or for someone who is sick in a hospital, or really anywhere where other people are involved. It has been my experience that people most often need you to pray a certain way, in certain times, and discernment is how I know, at least, what is needed in a particular moment. For example, when I was a young child (so in the interests if full disclosure, I’m recounting what I’ve been told), my grandfather developed lung cancer, and near the end of his life, the elders of the church came to lay hands on him and pray (I’m sure in great part) for healing. My grandfather was a beloved pastor, and my grandfather was a man of God, and he knew with certainty God was calling him home, and he was at peace, elated in fact, he would soon be at home with Christ. But my grandfather also knew that these elders needed to lay hands on him; they needed to pray for healing. I learned a valuable lesson from his witness; I’m grateful to God for leading an aunt (I won’t mention her by name here, but in case she’s reading, she’s the oldest of his three daughters) to recount the events of that time, because in doing so, God used her to create an opening, for what God worked through my Pap, to edify me thirty-plus years later. I mean, come on, isn’t God amazing, or what?

“Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). When I pray by myself, I pray in different ways. Sometimes my prayers are more superficial in nature, not to be mistaken for shallow in the sense of not caring, but sometimes I find myself praying less deeply. But there are other times when I find myself praying and moving with the Holy Spirit in realtime; these moments are like standing in a flow of water and God is right there. I think the term is operating in my anointing; I’m not always super good with terms, but I think that’s the correct description. When I’m operating in my anointing, I have a sense of God’s presence, and he’s always ahead of me. In fact, God makes that a point. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18). But I must not forget the lessons of the Corinthians, “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15). Wow, how amazing are 1 Corinthians 14 and Ephesians 6; these chapters should be taught hand in hand!

One of the points Jesus made the night he appeared to me was that he is past, present, and future all rolled into one. Jesus answered my questions before I asked them; he finished my sentences; he even finished my thoughts. Now let’s be honest, outside of young, googly eyed lovers, all that finishing done by anyone else would have probably gotten pretty irritating, but Jesus knew exactly what he was doing, and it still encourages me to this day. And that’s how it is when I operate in my anointing; that’s how it is when prayer becomes real-time. When prayer includes both my spirit and my understanding as God intends, the amazing transformation from please to thank you happens.

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