I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.
1 Corinthians 14:15
Before I jump into today’s topic I want to go back and talk a moment about the practice of fasting. In the post where I first discussed fasting we talked about Jesus’ words concerning the need for us to deny ourselves on a daily basis as we seek to follow Him. A key component of the practice of fasting is to target the areas of our lives where we indulge ourselves. Sometimes, maybe most of the time, that focuses around food, but other times it can be some other area of your life where you are indulging your flesh. As you set yourself to seek God, take a good look at your life and, with the Holy Spirit’s help, identify areas of self-indulgence that are preventing you from entering deeper into God’s presence.
Praying in the Spirit
Today’s discussion is about what it means to “pray in the spirit”. The verse quoted above, 1 Corinthians 14:15, along with the rest of that chapter, lays out pretty well the strong connection between the phrase “pray in the spirit”, and the gift of speaking in tongues. The gift and the concept of Spirit-based prayer are strongly linked. However, while it is true that whenever you read, in the New Testament, the phrase “pray in the spirit”, your mind should immediately turn to think about the operation of the gift of tongues, in my mind and heart there seems to be more to it than that. Still, it’s quite clear that the Holy Spirit considered the gift of tongues so important that, in verse five of that same chapter (1 Cor 14:5), a chapter that is all about how the gift of tongues is great, but prophecy is better, He had Paul tell us that he wished we all spoke in tongues. That is how important it is to God that the gift of tongues be operant in all His children. Having used that gift since I was a teenager, I am quite comfortable with that idea, but I can’t get past the idea that, somehow, the phrase “pray in the spirit” is somewhat larger than just praying in tongues. (But, only “somewhat” larger. The gift of tongues is vitally important to our walk with Christ and that’s why I wrote a book about it.) There are many Christians who have not yet stepped into the fullness of the gifts of the Spirit and do not yet speak in tongues, and, if you are one of those people, then it’s possible that you may be better able to speak to this topic than I can. You may have experienced a time of prayer when you simply knew that you were in strong connection with the Holy Spirit and that He was guiding your prayers. It is that type of connection, one that goes beyond the operation of the gift of tongues, that we all are reaching for anyway. The gift of tongues is a tool that God uses to aid us in our prayers and to train us in how to live and move in the spiritual realm. He wants us to learn to move in the spirit/Spirit in such a way that all our prayers, whether with tongues or in our native language, are led and guided by the spirit/Spirit.
By the way, you may find my use of the combination spirit/Spirit strange and I do need to explain myself. However, that part of the discussion is better left for an upcoming post where we will discuss how everything we do in this walk through our earthly life must originate and be facilitated by the Spirit of God.
Here is a link to my book, The Gift of Tongues: A Tool in the Hand of God. It’s a short read (and inexpensive in its ebook form), but if you don’t have the time to read the whole book, turn or scroll to the end of the book and read my mother’s testimony (Chapter 6). Then move to the first entry of the Appendix and read Charles Finney’s experience of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. As far as I know, Pastor Finney never spoke in tongues or operated in any of the other gifts of the spirit, yet he was one of the greatest evangelists America has ever seen. He moved in the power of the Holy Spirit and brought multiple thousands of people to Christ.