It is quite interesting to note that on two specific occasions, the Bible plainly directed believers to PRAY IN THE SPIRIT. This is not an admonition to some believers but to all believers. If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ, God expects you to take advantage of your new life and Pray IN the Spirit. Here are the two places that clearly spell out this phrase and it was used in the context of praying:
‘…PRAYING always with all prayer and supplication IN THE SPIRIT, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints…’ (Eph 6:18)
‘But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, PRAYING IN THE HOLY SPIRIT…’ (Jude 1:20)
The question immediately follows: what does the phrase ‘IN THE SPIRIT’ infer? Well, it basically infers two things: LOCATION and PROVISION.
Location: ‘But ye are not in the flesh, but IN THE SPIRIT, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.’ (Romans 8:9) Every believer lives IN THE SPIRIT but we still have the potential to walk (not live) in the flesh. Praying in the Spirit therefore means praying with a solid consciousness of your new position in Christ Jesus. It connotes a consciousness of authority and assurance of your prayers reaching its destination and receiving its expectations.
This was a dream to the Old Testament folks but a reality to us. (1Peter 1:12). Pray knowing your location is in Christ. Pray with the confidence that you are IN God’s Spirit. Pray in the Spirit.
On the other hand, Pray in the Spirit is not just referring to Position but also Provision.
Provision: ‘Likewise the Spirit also HELPETH our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself MAKETH INTERCESSION for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he MAKETH INTERCESSION for the saints according to the will of God.’ (Romans 8:26-27)
One of the sweet blessedness of redemption is the inclusion of an HELPER to our required activities. You are to pray knowing you have a helper. Praying in the Spirit infers resting on the truth of Holy Spirit interceding for you even while you are praying. He is providing the required help for you to both pray persistently and with precision. You have a Helper in every situation.
I love the line ‘we know not what we should pray for’. That means agree you need help – and Hallelujah, you have a helper, acknowledge Him! Pray in the power of Holy Spirit who is also praying for and with you! Pray in the Spirit!
And here we come to a crucial point: Does “Praying in the Spirit” in the two texts it appeared refer to ‘speaking in tongues’? Hmm…Please note that the verses in question clearly points out an instruction to ALL believers. And in fact, it even says we should Pray in the Spirit AT ALL TIMES.
‘With ALL prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at ALL times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit…’ (Eph 6:18 AMP)
Tongue is a prayer outside the intelligence of the person praying. And the Bible is clear that in as much as Paul would love all believers to speak in tongues (1Cor 14:5), yet NOT ALL BELIEVERS speak in tongues!
‘Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? 30Do we all have the gift of healing? DO WE ALL HAVE THE ABILITY TO SPEAK IN UNKNOWN LANGUAGES? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? OF COURSE NOT!’ (1Cor 12:29-30 NLT)
And in his wishing for all to speak in tongues, he re-wished that it was even far better to speak plainly in church (in the Spirit) than tongues!
‘Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, BUT RATHER that you would prophesy; and GREATER is the one who prophesies than the one who speaks in tongues…’ (1Cor 14:5)
In other words, in the congregation of believers, if you don’t have the gift of tongues, but you are able to speak plainly IN the Spirit, you are doing well! He even restricted ‘tonguing’ to two or three people at most in church with rotation in succession for proper edification; asking any ‘tonguer’ without interpretation to go quiet or low in sound…
‘If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or AT THE MOST by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. 28But if there be no interpreter, LET HIM KEEP SILENCE IN THE CHURCH; and let him speak to himself, and to God’ (1Cor 14:27-28)
Paul was even concerned about our moral and social perception. He clearly did not want tongues to be done in church as though madness overtook the congregation!
‘If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, WILL THEY NOT SAY THAT YE ARE MAD?’ (1Cor 14:23)
Sincerely, I just love Paul! .Now, since it is clear that not all believers speak in tongues and that tongues for example in church has certain restrictions under certain conditions, Paul couldn’t have been giving an admonition on praying AT ALL TIMES and ALL OCCASION with ALL kinds of prayers IN the Spirit and referring to tongues. Not at all !Tongues in 1Cor 14 is a gift to be received. But Praying in the Spirit is a normal duty of spiritual delight for all believers.
In a clearer term, praying IN the Spirit is not a GIFT to expect but a NATURE to express! The basic reason why many folks equate “praying In the Spirit” to “speaking in tongues” is because of 1Cor 14:14-15
‘For if I pray in a tongue, MY SPIRIT prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15What is the conclusion then? I will pray WITH THE (my) SPIRIT, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.’
Please note that there is a difference between praying WITH YOUR spirit (small letter ‘s’) and praying IN THE Spirit (capital letter ‘S’). Praying with your spirit is praying in an unknown language where you are not bothered about the interpretation but have an inner feeling you are speaking things needed to be spoken in prayers. The gift of tongues is resident in the spirit of a believer and therefore, praying with the spirit is praying in a language of mysteries by reason of the GIFT of tongues at work. In many cases and as anticipated by Paul, it needs to be interpreted.
This is not the same as praying IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. Praying in the Holy Spirit is simply praying from a POSITION of REST in the finished work of Christ. It implies loading up your spirit man with the truth of the Gospel concerning your salvation and praying in that holy constant mood. It is praying with a consciousness of your location and an acknowledging of the provisions you have in Holy Spirit. Oh, this is mainly evidenced in your thanksgiving for what Jesus has done for you.
I am aware this might come as a shock to many but with patience, go through all you read again…and again! I do not forbid speaking in tongues! (1Cor 14:39) And most likely, in the words of Paul, I speak in tongues more than some who think I am against speaking in tongues! (1Cor 14:18). I am grateful to God for the gift of tongues.
Let us allow the Bible to speak for itself and not what we feel or what we think we have learnt from an ‘infallible’ source or person. Please get this clearly: Praying in the Holy Spirit does NOT mean praying in tongues; although you could be praying in the Holy Ghost when you pray in tongues. In other words, whether in tongues or in understanding, a believer simply PRAYS in the Holy Ghost when he or she is praying from a heart saturated with thanksgiving for what Jesus has done. A heart that appreciates its location and celebrates its provision in Christ.You can pray in your understanding in the Spirit! No believer should feel shortchanged in the room of prayer for praying in your understanding. No! Go ahead and pray in faith in the name of Jesus and in the power of the Spirit in your understanding, and Abba will hear you!
Many prayers we see recorded in the epistles are plain understanding prayers and they are done in the Spirit!
‘be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Eph 5:18-20)
In fact, how do you make a request that is almost giving you anxiety to God without being plain in your speech?
‘Be ANXIOUS for nothing; but in every thing by PRAYER and supplication WITH THANKSGIVING let your REQUESTS be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’ (Phil 4:6-7)
That ‘with thanksgiving’ is what made the request and prayers to be in the SPIRIT; for you are grateful for your location and provision in Christ Jesus while tendering your request
!”…The effectual fervent prayer of a RIGHTEOUS man availeth much…” (James 5:16b)
Pray with the consciousness that you are the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God in Christ Jesus, and your prayers will “avail much”! Build up yourself upon your most Holy faith by Praying in the consciousness of your location and provision in Christ Jesus; in your understanding and if you can, with your spirit – its fine! You have full access, ASK in Jesus name. Remember you have gained access to God by Grace in Christ Jesus ‘through whom we have gained access by faith into this GRACE IN WHICH WE STAND…’ (Romans 5:2)
You are standing IN GRACE; ask in the Spirit, (not flesh of greed and lust), and your Abba will hear you without calling you a fool! ‘If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will NOT REBUKE YOU FOR ASKING’ (James 1:5 NLT) Abba, will not rebuke you for asking; whether it was in tongues or understanding. ASK in the Spirit and receive answers in Jesus name.
I hope this post is a blessing. Amen.