There seems to be confusion in many church circles about praying in the Spirit and what exactly praying in the Spirit is. Many Charismatics limit praying in the Spirit to only praying in tongues. This is not true. Praying in the Spirit is NOT just praying with other tongues but praying ANY prayer under the inspiration and direction of the Holy Spirit. Look at our instruction in Ephesians.
18 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,
This passage is clear that ALL prayer is to be done “in the Spirit.” Prayers of sanctification, prayers of dedication, prayers of intercession, prayers of repentance, the prayer of faith, prayers of thanksgiving and adoration are all to be prayed “in the Spirit.”
So, what does that look like? What does this mean? How do we get there?
Everything God does is relational. Prayer is no exception. Many of us have allowed our devotionals to become mechanical and lifeless. We run through our prayer list and read our daily chapter to feel good about ourselves and never even take time to be silent and connect with the one we are supposed to be submitted to.
Powerless, fruitless, and lifeless is prayer apart from the Spirit.
I am not saying that praying with the mind and natural understanding is wrong but let this be a launching point. A positioning of the heart and mind to a place of stillness and quiet. 1 Corinthians makes it clear that we need both.
There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.
Praying in the Spirit can start in the natural. As we approach God boldly in the natural, the anticipation of God speaking to us and leading us should bring us great joy accompanied by a reverent fear of the Almighty. Trembling is not just allowed, but encouraged.
In prayer, we must arrive at a proper place of humility so hearing His voice and sensing His direction becomes easy. The place of humility is the place with the greatest light. Everything is more illuminated from a humble perspective. It is also the place of greatest sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
Understand when communicating with God that we are here for His good pleasure. It is His will, His agenda, His purpose that we are pursuing. Not ours. Truly, we can do nothing of ourselves. We need God’s involvement. We need His instruction. We need His direction.
If you arrived at a place in prayer with the perspective I just described, you are praying in the Spirit whether it be in a known or unknown tongue.
Let us not put God in the miniscule box of our limited understanding. Instead of trying to define Him lets let Him define us by praying in the Spirit with ALL PRAYER AND SUPPLICATION for all the saints.