Purpose of this Session
Primarily to explore the world of speaking in tongues
We have already considered to a small degree the dynamic of the ‘spirit of prayer’. We will here be more particularly focused upon what the Bible terms ‘praying in (or with) the spirit’ (1 Cor 14:15). These expressions include the following:
- Prophetic utterance and declaration
- Simple tongues
- Groanings and travail
What Is Prayer in the Spirit?
Prayer in the Spirit essentially is any utterance in prayer that proceeds not from the understanding but directly from the spirit of the believer. It is certainly one of the manifestations prophesied by Jesus in John 7:38-39 when He spoke of rivers flowing from the inner man of believing saints. Effective prayer in the Spirit can be made in one of two ways. Paul the Apostle said in Corinthians:
“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.” (1Cor 14:15 KJV)
Paul here speaks of two dynamics in prayer that the believer is invited to enter into: Praying with the understanding (in a known language understandable to the hearer), and praying in the Spirit (in an unknown language whose utterance is inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself, and not necessarily understood by the hearer).
Kenneth Hagin defines praying in the Spirit this way in ‘The Art of Prayer’:
“Spiritual praying is praying out of your spirit in Spirit-given utterances – utterances in your known language, in a tongue that is unknown to you, and sometimes in groaning.”
‘The Art of Prayer’, Kenneth Hagin, Faith Publications ISBN: 0-89276-515-1
Praying in the Spirit with the understanding
We need to qualify these notes again, and make it clear that the student must not begin to categorise prayer too strictly. Nevertheless, in order to aid our search of the Scriptures concerning this great subject we will touch on some specific flows of prayer anointing, realising that these are not the only areas of prayer that are distinctively in the spirit, and that in a sense all prayer is, or should be, in the spirit.
In this place it is no longer we that pray, but Christ and His Spirit praying in and through us. The Scriptures make it clear that the Holy Spirit lives in the believer and that He is instrumental in causing the believer to speak forth things beyond their natural ability or understanding. Consider the following Scriptures:
“But rather what we are setting forth is a wisdom of God once hidden [from the human understanding] and now revealed to us by God—[that wisdom] which God devised and decreed before the ages for our glorification [to lift us into the glory of His presence]. None of the rulers of this age or world perceived and recognized and understood this, for if they had, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory. But, on the contrary, as the Scripture says, What eye has not seen and ear has not heard and has not entered into the heart of man, [all that] God has prepared (made and keeps ready) for those who love Him [who hold Him in affectionate reverence, promptly obeying Him and gratefully recognizing the benefits He has bestowed].Yet to us God has unveiled and revealed them by and through His Spirit, for the [Holy] Spirit searches diligently, exploring and examining everything, even sounding the profound and bottomless things of God [the divine counsels and things hidden and beyond man’s scrutiny]. Now we have not received the spirit [that belongs to] the world, but the [Holy] Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts [of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly] bestowed on us by God. And we are setting these truths forth in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the [Holy] Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual truths with spiritual language [to those who possess the Holy Spirit].”
(1Cor 2:7-10,12-13 AMP)
“And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will.” (Rom 8:27 AMP)
“to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,” (Eph 3:10 NKJV)
Our spirit is engaged with God’s Spirit and He speaks out things in prayer that could never otherwise have occurred to us. These are not prepared prayers but spontaneous, Spirit-led utterances in our known language. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would “show us things to come” (John 16:13), so at times such utterance may take the form of praying for future events understood only in the infinite mind of God. It could include prophetic utterances speaking forth the perfect will of God into certain situations, or proclamations of God’s Kingdom and will, establishing them in the spiritual realm.
Such utterance proceeds from the same well as the supernatural utterance in tongues. At times the Holy Spirit may prompt you to pray in tongues, and then directly from the same flow bring forth interpretation of what has just been said, thus establishing it in the heart and mind of the believer, and affecting God’s will in the spiritual realm.
Such prayer is powerful and carries great authority. We are no longer ‘asking’. When spiritual utterance in our known language begins to flow from our inner man, the answer is coming forth. It carries the authority of the One who is speaking, the Spirit Himself. It may include the declaration of Scripture, or the
proclamation of known or unknown truths, yet is endued with creative power; it has the stamp of divine endorsement.
The student is encouraged to press into this as well as other kinds of prayer, knowing that the Lord is the Spirit (2 Cor 3:17), and that He is looking for someone who will yield their heart and voice to Him in order that He can birth God’s purposes in to the earth. Such prayer is speaking under divine inspiration just like the gift of prophecy, and is open for all believers who will work with the Holy Spirit in the realm of prayer.