Praying in the Spirit – what does it mean? The apostle Paul defines what it means in
1 Corinthians 14:14-15, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 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.”
Praying in the spirit is praying in “tongues”. Paul said when I pray in tongues my spirit prays. It can’t get any clearer or simpler, yet praying in the spirit is one of the most misunderstood teachings in the Bible.
Praying in Tongues
When someone says, “Let’s pray in the spirit” many people think it means to simply pray stronger or with extra fervency and intensity. Some say and teach that praying in the Spirit means your prayers should be led by the Spirit according to His will, however according to the apostle Paul praying in the spirit is “praying in tongues”.
Two Types of Tongues
Much of the confusion about tongues and praying in the spirit is a result of not realizing the difference between the gifts of tongues and praying in the spirit. There are two types of tongues.
1. Corporate Gift of Tongues
The gift of tongues is found in1 Corinthians 12:10. The apostle Paul is teaching the church about the 9 gifts of the spirit in which the gift of tongues is one of the 9 gifts. It is to be used in a corporate setting and is to interpreted by someone. It is for the edification of the whole group. The gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation together are the equivalent of the gift of prophecy. The gift of tongues is not for everyone and is manifested as the spirit wills. (1 Corinthians 12:30 & 12:11)
2. Individual Praying in the Spirit
The second type of tongues is a personal prayer language that is for that individual. It is for the edification and benefit of the individual. It is available for every believer and is available at the will of the individual.
Benefits of Praying in the Spirit
“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” (Jude 1:20) Praying in the spirit will edify, strengthen, and build you up. “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself,” (1 Corinthians 14:4) When praying in the spirit the Holy Spirit even helps you to pray for things you don’t fully understand or know. (Romans 8:26) Praying in the spirit is part of the Armour of God. (Ephesians 6:18) That is why praying in the Spirit is such an important part of prayer life.
Paul Never Teaches People Not to Pray in the Spirit
Paul encourages believers to prophecy, but he never says to do away with tongues. However he gives several warn about the misuse of the “gifts of tongues”. Don’t use the gift of tongues unless there is someone to interpret. Only two or at most three should use the gift of tongues (1Corinthians 14:27-28)
Paul never teaches people not to pray in the spirit, in fact he encourages ALL believers to pray in tongues.
Apostle Paul Prayed in the Spirit
Praying in the spirit is powerful and valuable. The Apostle Paul said he personally was going to pray with the spirit (in tongues – from the spirit) and with the understanding (in his own language – from the mind). He said, “I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all.” (1 Corinthians 14:18)
When you pray in tongues you are speaking to God. You are praying things not know in the natural – they are mysteries. “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God…in the spirit he speaks mysteries” (1 Corinthians 14:2)
What is praying in the spirit? The apostle Paul defines praying in the spirit as praying in an unknown tongue.