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What is “Praying in the Spirit?”

Posted by Bishop McDuffie | Posted in default | Posted on 10-01-2014


By Larry Ollison, PhD

“What is the conclusion then? 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 Cor. 14:15).

When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he addressed many issues that they were struggling with. One of these issues was speaking in tongues.

Confusion is rooted in a lack of knowledge. So Paul enlightened the church on the reality of tongues. When the subject of speaking in tongues is brought up, many people only think of the gift of various kinds of tongues as listed in 1 Corinthians 12. The gift of “different kinds of tongues” (v.10) has certain requirements. For one thing, it must be followed by the gift of “interpretation of tongues.” (v.10).

Paul explains that in a public setting, if an individual speaks in a tongue and there is no interpretation, then it is unprofitable to the group because the group has no understanding of what has been said. But on the other hand, if someone speaks in tongues in a group setting and the same person or another person interprets, then everyone receives benefit. Again, we are referring to one of the nine spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12 and the title of this gift is “different kinds of tongues.”

Likewise, there is another type of tongues called “praying with the spirit.” (1 Cor. 14:15.) Some people refer to this as their “prayer language.” Romans 8:26 says that sometimes we don’t know how to pray as we should. In other words, our understanding of the problem or the solution to the problem is so limited, that we just don’t know how to pray. At times like these, we are instructed to “pray in the spirit.” (See Eph. 6:18.) Paul went on (in Romans) to say that if we don’t know how to pray, that the Holy Spirit himself will make intercession for us and that He knows and prays the will of God on our behalf. In other words, the Spirit makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

The solution to your problem may be a mystery to you, but there are no mysteries in God. Even though you may not know what you are praying in your own consciousness, the Spirit does and as He prays the will of God according to 1 John 5:14-15, God hears this prayer and acts to fulfill it.

You may ask, “Then why shouldn’t I just pray in the spirit all the time? If I’m praying God’s will when I’m praying in the spirit, then I will always be praying right.” The answer to this is quite simple. Praying in the spirit cannot be used as a crutch and an excuse for not studying the Word of God and for not renewing our minds daily with the Word.

When someone asks me to pray for their healing, I usually do not pray in the spirit. Why? Because I know it is God’s will that they be healed. On the other hand, if someone asks me to pray about their employment, in the natural I may not know whether it is God’s will or not for them to get the job. But there are some things I do know. I know it’s God’s will for them to prosper. So in that case, I pray in the understanding. I also pray in the spirit. Why? Because there are some things I don’t know. I do not know how that prosperity is to come about.

The point is this. As a Christian, I pray in the spirit and I pray with the understanding. I sing in the spirit and I sing in the understanding. Only when we do both will our prayer life be complete.

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 1:20).

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Comments (1)

Well, said!

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