Why I Pray in the Spirit (in Tongues)
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Stand therefore…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, (Ephesians 6:12-14, 18 ESV)
Spiritual battles demand spiritual weapons. The Apostle Paul reminded the church in Ephesus that theirs was not a fleshly battle, but a spiritual war against the devil, along with his forces of darkness.
Paul described the things that bring protection to us in the midst of the battle: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer.
Each of these pieces of armor is worth it’s own study, but I’m especially intrigued by Paul’s specific admonition to “pray in the Spirit.”
Praying in the Spirit builds your faith.
Praying in the Spirit edifies you.
Praying in the Spirit releases God’s will in your life.
With that in mind, why wouldn’t any believer eagerly and consistently pray in the Spirit?
Believers all around the world humbly, yet confidently, exercise the powerful and personal practice of praying in the Spirit (praying in tongues). Yet there are many who, for various reasons, do not.
1. A lack of understanding of the Word results in a lack of faith in believing for it’s promises.
Some believers have never been taught (and/or have not studied personally) the biblical truths regarding the baptism with the Holy Spirit and the grace of spiritual language. As a result, they have no basis of faith to believe and receive the promises that are available to them.
2. Common misunderstandings are perpetuated through misguided or malevolent teaching against the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit.
I’m convinced that most believers and pastors who teach on (or against) this subject approach it with sincerity of heart. If anything they want to avoid any excesses or extremes that would detract from the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even so, one must not allow traditions, denominational statements, or stories of “weird” extremists to result in such a defensive posture that it doesn’t allow for an openness to the clear, balanced teachings of Scripture.
3. Partial understanding of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit can result in a one-time, emotional experience, rather than an ongoing, personal practice.
Although the initial overflow of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life can be accompanied by the tears, or even laughter of the grateful recipient, the ongoing practice of praying in the Spirit does not require being ignited by emotion. Just as reading the Bible, praying, and worshipping God are disciplines of our daily relationship with Jesus, so it is with praying in the Spirit.
Spiritual language (speaking in tongues) is a precious and powerful gift from God, which can be exercised as:
1. A language of Praise. (The personal exercise of declaring the wonderful works of God)
2. A language of Prayer. (The personal practice of allowing the Holy Spirit to help you pray effectively and accurately)
3. A language of Prophesy. (The public exercise of the gift of tongues, which must be interpreted to allow hearers to be edified)
Although my remarks in this blog have focused solely on the “language of prayer,” each expression of spiritual language is worthy of sincere study and balanced practice.
Interesting to me is how the subject of “tongues” is often only viewed from the perspective of the use (or abuse) of the public gift. The fact is, this spiritual language is much more a personal gift than a public one, although it is certainly both.
Paul’s admonition to the church in Corinth was not to ban the practice of tongues, but to establish a disciplined practice of its public use, along with a discerning distinction between its public and personal use.
As a pastor…
it is important to me that I “rightly divide the word of truth,” knowing that I am held accountable for how I influence others.
As a person…
I have grown utterly dependent on all of the gifts and graces of God made available to me.
Praying in the Spirit is not merely my theology, it is my daily practice, and a gift for which I am truly grateful.
I pray for those who read this blog –
…that any existing confusion would dissipate in the light of the revelation of your truth.
…that any weird or manipulative experiences would be clarified and healed.
…that any fears would be replaced with faith.
…that your people would be empowered to accomplish great exploits for Your glory, and the expansion of Your kingdom.
In Jesus’ name, amen!