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A Deeper Understanding of Praying in the Spirit

Praying in the Spirit is mentioned in the Bible in Ephesians 6:18 when the Apostle Paul encouraged the believers in Ephesus to “Pray in the Spirit” at all times. Some believers understand this as praying in tongues or an unknown language, while others say it isn’t to be confused with the gift of speaking in tongues (see 1 Corinthians 14:14). We understand that to pray in tongues causes one’s spirit to pray, and it edifies oneself. It shows us that one way to pray in the Spirit is to pray in tongues, but it is not limited to that. The Apostle Paul said that if he prays in tongues, his spirit prays, but his mind is unfruitful. So, he will also pray with his mind and understanding. In either of the manners of praying, the Holy Spirit is in charge of leading you in how and what to pray for. If He leads you to speak in tongues and pray, you may do it. If He leads you to pray with your mind and understanding, you obey Him. The Holy Spirit may lead you to pray about anything; it can be about you, a loved one, your family, an acquaintance, and sometimes events or situations for which He wants you to intercede. 

Praying in the Spirit causes you to trust in the Holy Spirit. It is a powerful way of praying because you allow yourself to be in a position of total trust and surrender to the Spirit of God. Praying in an unknown language can sometimes be uncomfortable because the mind cannot comprehend it, but obeying the Holy Spirit, whether you understand it or not, pleases God. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

What does it mean to pray in the Spirit?

To pray in the Spirit means to let the Holy Spirit lead you in prayer. He is the one in charge, and He lets you know what you should pray for. Romans 8:26 says that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, one of which is not knowing what to pray for. And as you pray in the Spirit, you let Him be in charge. 

To pray in the Spirit is to be in total surrender and complete trust of the Spirit of God. If He leads you to pray in tongues, you do so. If He tells you to pray about a specific person and shows you things about the person, you simply follow. Such is a powerful and effective prayer as you let the Holy Spirit lead you into praying. Sometimes He may lead you to meditate on specific scriptures or wants you to declare them. 

Whatever the Holy Spirit wants you to pray, it always brings the greatest results when you trust and obey His leading and promptings.

Is praying in tongues the same as praying in the Spirit?

Praying in tongues is one manner of praying in the Spirit, as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 14:14 but not limited to this. The Scriptures say in Ephesians 6:18, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” In saying “with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,” the scripture is telling us that praying in the Spirit isn’t limited to praying in tongues, but it includes all kinds of prayer and requests, especially those for your fellow believers. 

Praying in tongues isn’t necessarily praying in the Spirit unless the Holy Spirit specifically instructs you to pray in such a manner. Usually, believers initiate the prayer or have deliberate prayer plans, and that’s totally fine. But to pray in the Spirit is to let the Holy Spirit lead you at all times. Sometimes, He changes plans instantly and unexpectedly if you allow Him to lead you. For instance, you may plan to pray about financial breakthroughs for a church you will visit, but as you arrive there the Holy Spirit leads you to pray in tongues and declare spiritual breakthrough instead. As with praying in tongues, you may initiate the prayer with your own will, but to pray in the Spirit is to let the Holy Spirit lead you.

How do you let the Holy Spirit lead you in prayer?

It takes discernment, knowledge of God’s Word, and sensitivity to hear the voice and promptings of the Holy Spirit. As in our previous example, believers may initiate things out of their own will in the Kingdom of God, but it is different when the Holy Spirit initiates and takes the lead. Much like Jesus Christ, He only does what He sees the Father is doing (see John 5:19). Jesus did not do anything out of His own will but simply obeyed what the Father told Him to do. In the same way, those of us who are children of God are all led by the Spirit of God (see Romans 8:14). So, how do you let the Holy Spirit lead you in your life, particularly in prayer? You may ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in this manner:

“Holy Spirit, what do you want me to pray for today?” or “Holy Spirit, show me the things God wants me to pray for.”

Then trust that God will answer you. He knows you, and He will never fail to speak to you, for you are His child. He will give you visions, words of knowledge, prophetic insights, and sometimes scriptures or specific instructions that are aligned according to the Word of God. The Holy Spirit will never speak in contradiction to God’s Word. That is why you must spend much time reading the Word of God to be able to test every spirit that you hear (see 1 John 4:1).

As you allow the Holy Spirit to lead you in your prayer life and pray in the spirit at all times, you will surely see God moving powerfully in your life and in the lives of those you touch. May the Holy Spirit guide you, bless you, and lead you into truth as you let Him lead you in Jesus’ name.