They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. —Acts 2:42
If we follow His impulse, the Holy Spirit will always lead us to pray. Consequently, when the Spirit is absent, we will find excuses not to pray: “God understands. He knows I love Him. But I’m tired … I’m so busy … It’s just not convenient now.” When the Spirit is absent, our excuses always seem right, but in the presence of the Spirit our excuses fade away.
All prayer comes from the Spirit—be it disciplined prayer or spontaneous prayer.
We pray spontaneously, both privately and with other Christians, when we are suddenly aware of a great need in the world or the church. God often uses something external to bring the church to her knees. We ought to see it as the kindness of God when He allows trouble to drive us to prayer. In our individual lives, family tension, financial worries, or illness will do it.
We also pray spontaneously when there is an overwhelming inner pressure from the Spirit resulting in a vivid awareness of the Spirit’s presence. When this happens within the church, people come from everywhere to be there.
What are the characteristics of this kind of spontaneous impulse to pray? There are four: time becomes unimportant; there is a caring for others (for example, in Acts 2:44); there is clear guidance; and there is unity (Acts 2:46).
The result of all of this is worship. We need to understand that worship is not just singing hymns, nor even consciously adoring God. Some people think that worship is limited to the moment in which one is saying, “God, I worship You.” But this is a wrong idea. Worship is any activity that is carried out under the impulse of the Spirit of God. We are also worshiping God when we are praying for others or witnessing to others.
Excerpted from Worshipping God (Hodder & Stoughton, 2004).