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Praying in the holy spirit

Jude 1:20-21
    But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost [pneuma hagion - holy spirit],
   Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

   Praying in the holy spirit is praying in tongues.  It is one of the two methods of prayer available to believers in this grace administration that began on the day of Pentecost.  As we pray in tongues we are edified (built up).  (He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; - I Corinthians 14:4a) Praying in tongues keeps us in the love of God and keeps our focus on that eternal life we have coming at the return of Christ.

I Corinthians 14:14-15
   For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
   What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also:  I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

   There are two methods of prayer:  in the spirit and with the understanding.  Both are important and both are available to believers today.  When we pray in tongues we do not understand the words but our prayer is spiritual.  It is our holy spirit in direct communication with The Holy Spirit: God.

I Corinthians 14:2
   For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.

   That which we pray in tongues to the Father is a mystery as we do not understand the words.  Yet it is the most powerful method of prayer as it is in the spirit: it is spiritual.  While speaking in tongues to God we can, with our understanding, be praying also.  The two methods of prayer ought to be used together.

   While I Corinthians 12-14 do much to explain the manifestation of speaking in tongues, the purpose of these chapters was to correct wrong practice in the church.  When praying with other believers our prayers (out loud at least) ought to be prayers with our understanding.  Speaking in tongues out loud does not benefit the hearers in the room as they do not understand the words.  When praying out loud in the fellowship of other believers our prayers ought to be understood.

I Corinthians 14:19
   Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.

   Prayer in the fellowship of other believers needs to be understood and therefore ought to be prayer with our understanding.  Does this mean that the Apostle Paul preferred prayer with the understanding over the powerful spiritual prayer in the spirit?  In the church, in the fellowship of other believers,  yes; but in his private prayer life to God? - No!  In fact:

I Corinthians 14:18
   I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:

   The Apostle Paul prayed much in tongues in his private prayers to God.  He prayed with his understanding for the believers, for the move of God's Word, for the knowledge of God's power, hope, and inheritance to be made known.   Yet while he fervently prayed for these things with his understanding he was continuously praying in the spirit; so much so that he declared he spoke in tongues more than all the believers in Corinth.

   Prayer in the spirit - speaking in tongues - is very very powerful.  It is not dependent upon our understanding of the situation and therefore it is effective on a level far above that which we can manage on our own.  Speaking in tongues is spiritual communication with God that reaches directly to the source of the need and is perfect intercession in accordance with God's Will.

Romans 8:26-27
   Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with goanings which cannot be uttered.
   And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

   The Word of God declares in I John 5:14-15 that when we ask according to God's Will He hears us and we have the petitions we desire of Him.  Prayer with our understanding must reflect a knowledge of His Word (which is His Will) if it is to be effectual.  Prayer in the spirit is not dependent upon our understanding and is always in accordance with God's Will.  We may not always know God's Word for a particular need - but God does.  That is why prayer in the spirit is so powerful.  We need to study and learn God's Word so that the prayers we speak with our understanding become more fruitful.  But our prayer in the spirit is always fruitful.  It is always perfectly in line with God's Will.

John 4:24
   God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

   Speaking in tongues is true worship.  It is prayer in the spirit and it is always in accordance with God's true Word so pray without ceasing and pray much in the spirit.

December, 1999
Michael Cortright