And these signs will follow those who believe; in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues. - Mark 16:17
Praying in the Holy Spirit is the ability given to believers that allows them to pray in a supernatural language. It is also sometimes referred to as praying in tongues, praying in unknown tongues, or praying with your spirit language.
Praying in the Spirit is the means by which our redeemed human spirit communicates directly with God’s Spirit. Intended to be used for more than just communicating with God in prayer, it is also designed to be a power producer to enhance the operation of all the other gifts and graces of God.
For these reasons it could be considered one of the greatest gifts of the Holy Spirit that a Christian can receive.
A Built-In Power Plant
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” (Jude 20)
One of the best illustrations of the Holy Spirit’s power I have encountered is one used by Bishop Bill Hamon of Christian International Ministries—the analogy of an electrical power plant utilizing a river and reservoir of water to produce electricity.
When a dam is built on a river, it causes the water to back up and form a reservoir. The reservoir water is the same water that will eventually flow through a turbine and continue on as a river. However, in the process of producing power, the water must become more active, noisy, and turbulent as it goes through the turbines.
Spiritually speaking, each believer has their own built-in power plant, which can produce the supernatural power of God in and through their lives. The water could be compared to being filled with the Holy Spirit. When upstream from the dam, it does not produce supernatural power until it flows through the gate (mouth) and turns the turbine (the unity of God’s Spirit and our spirit) to produce power.
When we pray in the Spirit, it is like the river starts flowing and activating our spiritual turbine. The activation of the turbine is what starts the chain reaction that produces power that enables things to work.
Activating the Gift
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13)
Like any spiritual concept, until praying in the Spirit is understood and received from a perspective of biblical truth, it is usually perceived with doubt or fear. I grew up believing that the baptism of the Spirit and the practice of praying in tongues were in error, and thus certainly to be avoided—if not feared.
When I did finally experience Spirit baptism, I was also eager to pray in the Spirit. With the encouragement and guidance of a mature mentor, it took about three weeks. (I actually seemed to sense or hear it in my mind/spirit before I could say anything out loud.) And although some might pray in tongues spontaneously after becoming filled with the Spirit, my experience was less dramatic.
Those who have been born of the Spirit (salvation) and baptized with the Spirit receive a spirit language. If you have never prayed in the Spirit but would like to, activation involves four basic principles:
1. Hearing and understanding the truth from a biblical perspective (Rom. 10:17; John 8:32). Good scriptures to read and review include Luke 11:13; Mark 16:17; Acts 2:4, 2:38, 10:46, 19:6; I Cor. 14:18-22; Jude 20.
2. Believing in your heart (Matt. 12:34b; Rom. 10:10).
3. Speaking with your mouth (Ps. 116:10a; Prov. 18:21). The words we speak can activate faith or squelch it.
4. Taking action (James 2:14-26). Open your mouth—and try it!
Additional Points to Consider
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels…” (1 Cor. 13:1)
I actually do not know how I got by before I learned to pray in tongues. It is such an important part of my life that I commonly set my alarm earlier than necessary so that I can use that time just to pray in the Spirit. I often pray when driving, when cleaning, when exercising, and so on. So long as you’re not praying out loud, there is virtually no time when you can’t pray! And I always pray in the Spirit before a time of ministering or even writing an article.
- It is quite conceivable that the tongue of angels mentioned in scripture (see above) is the believer’s spirit language. If so, then praying in the Spirit attracts angels—and possibly, gives them direction from the Lord’s Spirit concerning our affairs. (See Ps. 91:11.)
- If possible, find a proven believer to act as a mentor as needed. (Heb. 5:14) And again, if possible, fellowship with a body of believers that also prays in the Spirit.
- And of course, the space allotted for this article does not allow for covering every aspect of the biblical truth that praying in the Spirit is for every believer and can be received by faith. For more comprehensive study, I highly recommend 70 Reasons for Speaking in Tongues, by Dr. Bill Hamon.
- Finally, be persistent. (Luke 11:5-13) It can take time to overcome any hindrances of our mind to begin praying in the Spirit. Continue exercising your faith in full expectation of receiving the gift. Your persistence will be rewarded!