Why should I pray in the Holy Spirit?
The Spirit within vs. the Spirit upon
- There are many terms to describe this supernatural experience (Acts 2:4): praying in tongues (1 Cor 14:2), praying in the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 14:15, Jude 20), praying from your heart (John 7:38) and praying in your Heavenly language (1 Cor. 13:1, 1 Cor. 14:2). Please look up these passages in your Bible and meditate upon them.
- Every born again believer should be filled with the Spirit and pray in tongues (Mark 16:17). This is different from being born of the Spirit (John 3:3-6). These are two different experiences: having the Spirit within, and having the Spirit upon (oneself). One is for salvation, the other for empowerment to minister. You don’t have to have the Spirit upon to be saved you are already saved and choose empowerment for ministry.
- There is no evidence Jesus prayed in tongues, it was a gift for the church. The disciples didn’t speak with tongues until he ascended on high and gave ‘the gift’ of the Holy Spirit. The disciples had to be ‘born again’ before this gift was poured out, and Jesus had to go to the Father first (John 16:7). The disciples were born of the Spirit when Jesus was raised from the dead (John 20:22), when he breathed on them and said “receive the Holy Spirit“. But Jesus then said “wait and you will be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem and they would receive power when the Holy Spirit would come upon them and be witnesses.
- In John 14:17, Jesus said “You know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” Every born again believer has the Spirit of God living inside of them, guiding them into all truth and bearing witness of the Word of God (John 14:16,17,26, John 16:13-14, Rom 8:16).
- But after Jesus ascended and went to Heaven, the disciples waited for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them for power and to be witnesses, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Have you ever felt inadequate to minister to your friends in full effect? Discuss.
- When the Holy Spirit came upon the 120 in the upper room, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues (Acts 2:3-4). The first thing Peter did after he received the infilling of the Holy Spirit, was preach with power and 3,000 people got born again! When the Spirit of God comes upon someone an anointing resides upon that individual. This is a powerful witness, to do signs, wonders, and miracles. This gift of the Holy Spirit is given to do the works of Jesus (John 14:12) and available for every Christian.
- In Acts 8:16 and Acts 10:44, it says “The Holy Spirit fell upon all“. In Acts 19:6 we read, “And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.” Ask yourself this question, if the disciples were fully equipped in their initial state then Jesus wouldn’t have told them to tarry in Jerusalem for a separate encounter with the Holy Spirit. It is clearly requisite for impactful and influential ministry.
- The Spirit of God inside a believer is for guiding them and leading them to all truth (John 16:13), being filled with the Spirit is for doing the works of Jesus with power, witnessing, laying hands on the sick and casting out demons (Mark 16:16-18).
The initial evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit
- In Acts 2:4 we read “they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues,” in Acts 8:16-18 and Acts 10:44-46 we see “the Holy Spirit fell upon all” and “For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God” and finally in Acts 19:6, “Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.”
- In Acts 9:17 Ananias laid his hands on Paul (Saul) that he may receive sight and ‘be filled with the Holy Spirit’ (1 Cor14:18). Please note that prophecy is also an evidence of being filled, not tongues exclusively; although prophecy is not mentioned in all references of Spirit infilling.
Why should we pray in tongues
- We don’t always know what we should pray for, or how to pray as we should with our own understanding. The Spirit helps us pray God’s will out for our life (Rom 8:26-28).
- You pray directly to God (1 Cor 14:2), you talk to God, and spend time with Him (1 Cor. 14:2). You give thanks well (1 Cor. 14:16-17). You edify yourself, encourage yourself, strengthen yourself and build yourself up in faith (1Cor 14:4, Jude 20), when you are praying in the Spirit.
- You can pray out God’s will and future for your family, job and church (Rom 8:26-28). You can interpret what you’ve prayed in tongues by revelation from the Spirit (1 Cor. 14:5-6). You can pray or sing in the Spirit and be refreshed with peace and joy. You may find rest for your soul (Isa 28:11-12, 1 Cor. 14:14-15).
- It’s a sign for unbelievers (1 Cor. 14:22). God can and will reveal through tongues supernaturally what others need to hear (Acts 2:6-12, Acts 10:46).
Can everyone speak in tongues? Yes.
- This gift and promise is for all who have received Christ as Lord and Savior (Acts 2:39, 1 Cor. 14:5, Acts 10:34, Heb 13:8, Mal 3:6, Mark 16:16-18).
Has tongues ceased? Was it just for the early church? NO.
- One day we will not need prophecy, or knowledge or tongues as it mentions in 1 Cor. 13:8-13, but we are still on earth and Jesus hasn’t come back yet, so we still utilize all three today. 1 Cor. 14:39 says “Do not forbid to speak with tongues” (1 Thes. 5:20, Mark 16:17, Mal 3:6, Heb13:8, Acts 15:17-21, Acts 2:39, 1 Cor. 14:5). This gift is for every believer, it did not pass away after all the disciples died. This is a theology that man has taught and not God’s word.
What am I saying? Could I curse or say something unholy in tongues? NO.
- 1 Cor. 12:3 says “no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed“. You are magnifying God in tongues (Acts 10:46). You’re praying God’s will for your life or praying for someone who needs help whenever and wherever, commonly called intercession (Rom 8:26-28). You are saying the right thing that needs to be said at that time. The Holy Spirit helps you pray to God the Father, and the words come to the throne of God in perfect form. God is Spirit (John 4:24) and whether you pray in the spirit or your native language, you are speaking to God and He hears your prayers and answers them.
- Your understanding (mind) is unfruitful (1 Cor. 14:13-18). Your spirit is praying, not your head. When you pray in tongues, you are praying from your heart, the utterance is not understood by you or the listener (1 Cor. 14:2, 1 Cor. 14:16) unless interpreted.
Can a believer ever know what they are saying in tongues? Yes.
- You can pray to interpret (1 Cor. 14:13), and there is a gift of tongues used in a public setting (1 Cor. 12:10, 1 Cor. 14:26-40). This is a huge benefit to the one praying and interpreting or to the one the interpretation is for, because you receive God’s pertinent revelation for your life. (Note: The revelation given should bear witness with your spirit and line up with God’s Word. Every word of prophecy or interpretation is to be tested and compared to God’s word).
How do I get filled with the Holy Spirit?
Praying in tongues will ‘build up’ the believer daily, and we all need to be constantly filled with God (Jude 20). When praying in the spirit we are edified, this is the same word used for edifice and is a foundational precept. If you’re not filled with God’s Spirit, you will be filled with something else such as worry, doubt or stress. We are constantly leaking as the cares of this world and the stresses of life can wear us down. Life drains us with its constant demands and agendas. We need times of refreshing in the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19). The strong feeling of refreshment you attain from praying in the Spirit is something you need to counteract Satan and his strategies. We are commissioned to lay hands on the sick, cast out demons, and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. With the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, you will see the things Jesus said you would (Mark 16:16-18, John 14:12). That is not to say that those who are not ‘Spirit filled” cannot do the works of Jesus, they can, but remember that if the disciples were equipped for ministerial power in their initial state, Jesus would have no need for them to be endued with ‘power from on high’. Yet, he made it abundantly clear that they needed this endowment (Luke 24:49). The Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues was ’the promise of the Father’ and surely necessary and crucial for effective powerful ministry.
Jesus said the Father would give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him (Luke11:13). You do not have to wait or tarry for the Holy Spirit today, He has already been given to us. You can have hands laid on you by other spirit filled believers to receive this gift, or you can ask God to fill you directly at His word. When the disciples began to speak in tongues (Acts 2:4), the Holy Spirit didn’t speak for them. They needed to speak but God gave the utterance. God is a gentleman and won’t make anybody do something against their own will. He won’t speak for you. If you don’t want it or are ignorant of it, you won’t get it. So trust in the Lord and speak from your heart. Jesus said “out of your heart would flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). This utterance which comes from within needs to be vocalized, and as you yield to it, more will flow.