Dialogs and Commentary

Praying in the Spirit

An email sent by Dean VanDruff to a brother who was of the view that "praying in the Spirit" was limited to tongues. [This is a reformatted duplicate from The Prayer Series.]

Jude 1:20 (NIV) But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.

Eph 6:18 (NIV) And pray in the Spirit...

Does this mean "praying in tongues", as some insist?

Certainly praying in tongues is a way to "pray in the Spirit", but not the only way.

1 Cor 12:30 (NIV) Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues?...

Clearly not; this is discussed in a previous posting. The Lord gives gifts as He chooses... (1 Cor 12:11)

The idea of "praying in the Spirit" encompasses the full panoply of prayer, as we will see in a moment.

I think the proper way to interpret this verse is: "pray in the Spirit" as opposed to "pray in the flesh".

For example: we know that the Pharisees were very keen on prayer, but was the Holy Spirit "in them" doing this? When we pray, are we motivated by religious instinct, showing off, legalism, or carnality? All such is worthless, a bubble of vanity--even if in "tongues". Instead, let us pray at the prompting of the Holy Spirit and by His leading in the way that is fit for the moment, by His grace.

Phil 2:13 (Wey) For it is God Himself whose power creates within you the desire to do His gracious will and also brings about the accomplishment of the desire.

John 3:8 (NAS) "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is every one who is born of the Spirit."

Let us not allow the idea of "praying in the Spirit" to be corralled into a "tongues only" code-phrase, for there are many ways to "pray in the Spirit" besides the gift of tongues. Let the Spirit lead us to pray with the type of prayer needed in the moment, with God's power. Let us look at the full verse now, in context:

Eph 6:18 (NIV) And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests...

1 Tim 2:1 (Wey) I exhort then, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be offered on behalf of all men.

Eph 6:18 (Wey) Pray with unceasing prayer and entreaty on every fitting occasion in the Spirit, and be always on the alert to seize opportunities for doing so, with unwearied persistence and entreaty on behalf of all God's people.

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