If you’ve been with us for long, you know we are a church that prays in the Spirit. Very few Sundays go by without you hearing me pray in tongues and urging you to do the same.
This is a subject that most churches ignore. But even here, where it is talked about and exercised freely, we have yet to tap into the fullness of praying in the Spirit.
No matter where you are in the journey, don’t fret. The important thing is to keep moving forward. Don’t avoid it. Don’t ignore it. Keep pressing into the fullness of what God has for you.
In Ephesians chapter six, the Apostle Paul reveals the armor of God. This is often discussed in the church, but we usually stop at the sword of the Spirit and don’t continue into the next verse.
The next verse is the action plan. Now that you have your armor on, here’s what you do with it.
He didn’t tell you to put your armor on and just stand there. No! You are to put your armor on and engage in the battle. Here’s how:
Ephesians 6:18 NLT – Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
The action plan is to never stop praying. Put your armor on and engage in the battle through your prayers. But not just any prayer. You are to pray in the Spirit.
This reveals that there is such a thing as praying in the flesh. Otherwise, Paul could have just said “Pray at all times.” But he clarified, “Pray in the Spirit.”
In other words, if what you are praying isn’t birthed from the Spirit, you might as well shut your mouth. Prayers of the flesh are empty and meaningless and a waste of time.
How do you know if you are praying in the flesh? You are trying to impress people with what you say. Or, you are trying to impress God with what you say. Or, you are going through some ritual.
Don’t waste time praying in the flesh. Instead, pray in the Spirit.
Does this mean you can only pray in tongues?
No. Because in the previous verse, we learn that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Since that’s the case, it reveals that praying the Word of God is also praying in the Spirit.
This is when those who don’t like praying in tongues say that the Apostle Paul only meant to pray the Word of God. But that’s not true either. Let me show you how I know.
1 Corinthians 14:14 NLT – For if I pray in tongues, my spirit is praying, but I don’t understand what I am saying.
Once again, the Apostle Paul talks about praying in the Spirit. It’s hyper-clear that he is talking about praying in tongues. Because what he prays, he doesn’t understand.
This is when the crazy charismatics say you should only pray in tongues. But that’s not true either. Thankfully, the Apostle Paul makes it all crystal clear:
1 Corinthians 14:15-17 NLT – Well then, what shall I do? I will pray in the spirit, and I will also pray in words I understand. I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing in words I understand. For if you praise God only in the spirit, how can those who don’t understand you praise God along with you? How can they join you in giving thanks when they don’t understand what you are saying? You will be giving thanks very well, but it won’t strengthen the people who hear you.
Praying in the Spirit is both praying in tongues and praying the Word of God. Both glorify God. But only one strengthens the people.
God wants to be glorified, and He wants His people to be strengthened. That’s why we pray in tongues and also pray the Word of God. But we never pray in the flesh.
Many people use what I just read to say that we are not supposed to pray in tongues at church. But it didn’t say that at all. It said, “Pray in the Spirit AND pray with words you understand.”
It’s not one or the other. It’s both.
So, why do we pray in the Spirit?
Romans 8:26-27 NLT – And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
When we pray in the Spirit, we pray in harmony with God’s own will. That’s amazing!
Suppose you are facing a problem and don’t know the answer. You say, “I don’t know which way to go.” Here’s your answer! Pray in the Spirit, knowing that you are praying God’s exact will for the situation. Wow!
This reminds me of a story Lance Wallnau tells on his podcast. In 2015, he found himself in Trump Tower advising soon-to-be president Trump on race relations.
He was in a room with some of the top names in American Christianity. He felt way out of his league and asked the Lord, “Why did you bring me here? You clearly don’t need my measly self.”
To which the Lord replied, “Every time you pray in the Spirit, this is what you ask me for!”
When we pray in the Spirit, we pray forth God’s perfect will. If Lance didn’t pray in the Spirit, he’d still be living according to his own much smaller plan.
Our minds can’t grasp what God wants to do through us. That’s why we pray in the Spirit! I don’t want to be limited to my mind. I want to be in harmony with God’s perfect will!
This is why we pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. This is why I bring it up almost every Sunday. We all need to be praying forth God’s perfect will for our lives!
Yes, pray what you know to pray. But don’t stop there! Press in further by praying what you don’t know to pray. When you pray in the Spirit, you are praying in harmony with God’s own will!
If you already pray in the Spirit, this is instruction from the Lord Himself to do it more. Become like the Apostle Paul when he said, “I’m glad I pray in the Spirit more than the rest of you.”
How to get started praying in tongues
If you have yet to pray in the Spirit, you may wonder how to get started. The book of Acts gives us two ways people were filled with the Holy Spirit, resulting in speaking in tongues.
First, the Holy Spirit would fall on the congregation as they were gathered to hear the Word of God. When that happened, the people present would begin speaking in tongues.
The second way is the laying on of hands. Take a look:
Acts 19:6 NLT – Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied.
In either case, there was a prerequisite. They had to first be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
This isn’t talking about water baptism. It is talking about an immersion into the Lord Jesus. There is no casual Christianity here. We’re talking full-on devotion to Christ.
If you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, you must first be fully devoted to Christ. If you aren’t all in, that’s your first step. Make a decision to go all in.
Once you are all in, you are primed and ready to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And when you are immersed in the Holy Spirit, you will pray in tongues. It’s part of the package.