How do i pray in the spirit

“4: How Do I Recognize and Understand the Spirit?” Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service (2018), 95–108

Consider This

  • Why do I need to receive personal revelation?

  • Who is the Holy Ghost and how does He work?

  • Why must I pray in faith?

  • What is the role of the Spirit in missionary work?

  • How can I recognize the promptings of the Spirit?

Personal Revelation

Joseph Smith said, “Salvation cannot come without revelation; it is in vain for anyone to minister without it” (Discourse, between circa 26 June and circa 4 August 1839-A, as reported by Willard Richards, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City). You will succeed in your work as you learn to receive and follow personal revelation. Joseph Smith also taught that revelation is vital for your daily work: “This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed” (History, 1838–1856, volume D-1 ).

God loves you and all His children. He is anxious to support you in your practical and specific challenges. You have been promised inspiration to know what to do and have been given the power to do it (see Doctrine and Covenants 43:15–16). He will help you as you try to recognize and understand the Spirit through diligent scripture study. He will guide you to people who will receive the message of the Restoration. He will give you power to deliver the message and to testify of Christ and His gospel. He will shower His blessings upon you through the gift of the Holy Ghost. He asks that you remain worthy of this gift and that you ask, seek, and knock (see Doctrine and Covenants 4:7; Matthew 7:7–8).

We live in the day prophesied by Book of Mormon prophets—a day when people will “contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance” (2 Nephi 28:4; see also 3 Nephi 29:6; Mormon 9:7–8). Yet many people also yearn for spiritual things. As you learn to receive personal revelation, you will teach with power and authority (see Alma 17:3) because the Holy Ghost gives you power to speak (see 1 Nephi 10:22).

You need to seek and receive personal revelation through the Holy Ghost as you help people become baptized and confirmed. Have faith that you will receive personal revelation to guide you from day to day. The Holy Ghost will help you in every aspect of your work.

Activity: Personal Study

In Moroni’s concluding testimony, he wrote “a few words by way of exhortation” (Moroni 10:2). Read Moroni 10 and write in your own words what Moroni exhorts the reader of the Book of Mormon to do. (Exhort means to encourage strongly or urge someone to do something.)

The Light of Christ

A person is capable of receiving spiritual guidance before being baptized and confirmed. This spiritual influence begins with the Light of Christ, which “is given to every man, that he may know good from evil” (Moroni 7:16; see also verses 14–19).

“The light of Christ is just what the words imply: enlightenment, knowledge, and an uplifting, ennobling, persevering influence that comes upon mankind because of Jesus Christ. …

“The light of Christ should not be confused with the personage of the Holy Ghost, for the light of Christ is not a personage at all. Its influence is preliminary to and preparatory to one’s receiving the Holy Ghost. The light of Christ will lead the honest soul who ‘hearkeneth to the voice’ to find the true gospel and the true Church and thereby receive the Holy Ghost” (Bible Dictionary, “Light of Christ”; see also Doctrine and Covenants 84:46–47).

President Boyd K. Packer said: “It is important for a … missionary … to know that the Holy Ghost can work through the Light of Christ. A teacher of gospel truths is not planting something foreign or even new into an adult or a child. Rather, the missionary or teacher is making contact with the Spirit of Christ already there. The gospel will have a familiar ‘ring’ to them” (“The Light of Christ” , 2, Church History Library, Salt Lake City).

The Holy Ghost

The personage of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit and does not have a body of flesh and bones (see Doctrine and Covenants 130:22). He is the Comforter, who the Savior promised would teach His followers all things and bring to their remembrance all things that He had taught them (see John 14:26).

The power of the Holy Ghost. The witness that comes to sincere seekers of truth before baptism comes through the power of the Holy Ghost. “The power can come upon one before baptism and is the convincing witness that the gospel is true. By the power of the Holy Ghost a person receives a testimony of Jesus Christ and of His work and the work of His servants upon the earth” (Bible Dictionary, “Holy Ghost”). The Holy Ghost testifies of truth. All people can know the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon through the power of the Holy Ghost. “By the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5).

The gift of the Holy Ghost. People who receive a witness but have not been baptized and confirmed do not yet have the promise of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Joseph Smith said: “There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him” (“Sabbath Scene in Nauvoo,” Times and Seasons, Apr. 15, 1842, 752).

“The gift of the Holy Ghost comes after one repents and becomes worthy. … The Holy Ghost bears witness of the truth and impresses upon the soul the reality of God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ so deeply that no earthly power or authority can separate him from that knowledge.”

“The gift can come only after proper and authorized baptism, and is conferred by the laying on of hands. … The gift of the Holy Ghost is the right to have, whenever one is worthy, the companionship of the Holy Ghost” (Bible Dictionary, “Holy Ghost”).

As a member of the Church, you have received the gift of the Holy Ghost by priesthood authority. This gift entitles you to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost as you remain worthy of it. Pray for the Spirit’s guidance, and valiantly follow the promptings you receive.

The Holy Spirit of Promise. The Holy Ghost is also referred to as the Holy Spirit of Promise (see Doctrine and Covenants 88:3). To be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise means that the Holy Ghost confirms that righteous acts, ordinances, and covenants are acceptable to God. The Holy Spirit of Promise testifies to the Father that the saving ordinances have been performed properly and that the covenants associated with them have been kept. Those who are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise receive all that the Father has (see Doctrine and Covenants 76:51–60; Ephesians 1:13–14). All covenants and performances must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise if they are to be valid after this life (see Doctrine and Covenants 132:7, 18–19, 26). Breaking covenants may remove the sealing.

Gifts of the Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are special spiritual blessings that the Lord gives to worthy individuals for their own benefit and for their use in blessing others. For example, missionaries who must learn a new language may receive the gift of tongues to give them divine help in learning a language. Several gifts of the Spirit are described in Moroni 10:8–18; Doctrine and Covenants 46:11–33; and 1 Corinthians 12:1–12. These are only some examples of the many gifts of the Spirit. The Lord may bless you in other ways depending on your faithfulness, your needs, and the needs of those you serve. You should desire spiritual gifts and earnestly seek for them (see Doctrine and Covenants 46:8; 1 Corinthians 12:31; 14:1, 12). These gifts come by prayer, faith, and works, according to God’s will (see Doctrine and Covenants 63:9–12; 84:64–73).

Activity: Personal or Companion Study

Read the Bible Dictionary, “Holy Ghost,” “Light of Christ,” and “Spirit.”

Write a description of the nature and role of the Holy Ghost.

Read Acts 4:23–33.

  • How did Peter and John seek spiritual gifts?

  • How did the Lord answer their prayers?

  • What can you learn from this experience about your own work?

The Power of the Spirit in Conversion

The power of the Holy Ghost is central to conversion. Strive to understand the doctrine and also the experience of conversion. President Boyd K. Packer explained the central role of the Spirit in conversion:

“When conversion takes place, it is through the power of the Spirit. In order to succeed in missionary work, these three things must occur:

“We must understand what must feel in order to receive conversion.

“We must understand how a missionary must feel in order to teach with the converting power of the Spirit.

“And then we must understand how a member must feel to succeed in participating in the conversion experience” (mission presidents’ conference, Apr. 3, 1985).

The better you understand how the people you teach, missionaries, and members feel when they receive the witness of the Spirit, the better you will understand your own role, which is to:

  • Be edified and have your mind enlightened as you search the scriptures and teach the doctrine.

  • Create a climate when you teach in which the Holy Ghost can bear witness. You do this by teaching and testifying of the message of the Restoration. Teach as directed by the Spirit, and testify that you know by the power of the Holy Ghost that what you teach is true.

  • Follow the guidance of the Spirit in adapting the message to each person’s needs.

  • Invite people to act. Their faith will grow as they repent, obey the commandments, and make and keep covenants.

President M. Russell Ballard spoke of the power of the Spirit: “True conversion comes through the power of the Spirit. When the Spirit touches the heart, hearts are changed. When individuals … feel the Spirit working with them, or when they see the evidence of the Lord’s love and mercy in their lives, they are edified and strengthened spiritually and their faith in Him increases. These experiences with the Spirit follow naturally when a person is willing to experiment upon the word. This is how we come to feel the gospel is true” (“Now Is the Time,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 75).

The Holy Ghost works in the hearts of people to bring about these changes. As people choose to keep commitments, they will feel the power of the Holy Ghost more strongly and will develop the faith to obey Christ. Thus, you should help the people you work with grow in faith by inviting them to repent and to make and keep commitments.

Activity: Personal Study

  • Read one or two of the following passages, and ponder what a person must feel to be converted. Record your feelings and impressions in your study journal. Discuss your ideas with other missionaries and members.

    2 Nephi 4:16–35; Enos 1; Mosiah 4–5; 18:7–14; 27–28; Alma 5; 17–22; 32; 36; 38

  • Read one or two of the following passages and ponder what you as a missionary and as a member must feel to teach with converting power. Record your feelings and impressions in your study journal. Discuss your ideas with other missionaries and members.

    1 Nephi 8:11–12; Mosiah 28:1–4; Alma 26; 29; 31:26–38; 32; Moroni 7:43–48; Doctrine and Covenants 4; 18:10–16; 50:21–22

Scripture Study

What do these scriptures teach about the power of the Spirit in your work?

  • 2 Nephi 33:1–2

  • Doctrine and Covenants 42:11–17

  • Doctrine and Covenants 50:13–22

  • Acts 2:37–38

  • 1 Corinthians 2:11–14

  • Bible Dictionary, “Conversion”

What can you do to enjoy the power of the Spirit in your work?

  • Alma 32:27–28

  • Doctrine and Covenants 42:14

  • John 7:17

Why is it important to teach what you know and believe?

  • Alma 5:43–47

  • Doctrine and Covenants 52:9

  • Doctrine and Covenants 80:4

Pray with Faith

You can teach in the Lord’s way only by the power of the Spirit, and you receive the Spirit through the prayer of faith. The Lord said, “And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:14). As you pray for help in your teaching, the power of the Holy Ghost will carry your teachings “unto the hearts of the children of men” (2 Nephi 33:1).

President Gordon B. Hinckley illustrated this principle by relating an experience from his mission:

“I always remember two young men who served in my mission. One was a superstar. He was educated. He was bright. He was quick. He was a little arrogant. We had another who was a sign painter. He came from a sign shop with very little education, but he knew his inadequacies and he relied on the Lord. When he prayed, you knew he was talking with the Lord. It wasn’t a rote thing, it was a conversation and that young man accomplished wonders while the other young man went through the motions. The power that was in the one and the absence of power in the other was so apparent. Call upon the Lord. He has extended the invitation, and He will answer” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley , 469).

Strive to pray sincerely, with real intent, and with “all the energy of heart” (Moroni 7:48). Effective prayer requires great effort (see Moroni 10:3–4; Doctrine and Covenants 8:10; 9:7). Give serious thought to your attitude and to the words you use. Consider the following when you pray:

  • Use the language of prayer, which shows that you love and respect your Heavenly Father. Use proper and respectful language in whatever language you speak. For example, in English use scriptural pronouns such as Thee, Thou, Thy, and Thine.

  • Always express gratitude for your blessings. A conscious effort to be grateful will help you recognize how merciful the Lord has been in your life.

  • Pray specifically for the guidance and help of the Holy Ghost. Show that you value this blessing by being sensitive to and aware of spiritual promptings. Then courageously follow those promptings.

  • Pray with love and charity. Pray for people by name. Ask for inspiration to help you understand and meet their needs. Pray for the welfare of those you are teaching, new converts, and returning members. Pray for the members and priesthood and auxiliary leaders in your area. Pray for your family at home. Pray for your companion, other missionaries, and your mission president. Pray to know how you can help others, and then be willing to sacrifice in their behalf.

  • Pray that you will be shown where to go and what to do. Pray that you will be led to those who are prepared to receive the message of the Restoration. Pray that you will recognize them.

  • Recognize that your Heavenly Father knows what you need better than you do. Rely on the Spirit to know what to pray for (see 3 Nephi 19:24; Doctrine and Covenants 46:28, 30).

  • In your prayers at night, give the Lord an accounting of your day’s activities. Then review with Him your plan for the next day. Listen for the promptings of the Spirit.

  • Pray to overcome temptation. Yielding to temptation interferes with the Spirit.

  • Pray and, when appropriate, fast for special blessings.

  • Pray about and ponder the scriptures. The scriptures open the window to revelation.

  • Believe that God will answer your prayers. Recognize that God’s thoughts are not your thoughts (see Isaiah 55:8–9), and trust God to answer your prayers in His own way and in His own time.

“Every morning … , missionaries should get on their knees and plead with the Lord to loosen their tongues and speak through them to the blessing of those they will be teaching. If they will do this, a new light will come into their lives. There will be greater enthusiasm for the work. They will come to know that in a very real sense, they are servants of the Lord speaking in His behalf. They will find a different response from those they teach. As they do so by the Spirit, will respond under the influence of the same Spirit.”

—President Gordon B. Hinckley

“Missionary Service,” First Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 11, 2003, 20

Activity: Personal Study

Ponder the following statements concerning sincere prayer:

“The trouble with most of our prayers is that we give them as if we were picking up the telephone and ordering groceries—we place our order and hang up. We need to meditate, contemplate, think of what we are praying about and for and then speak to the Lord as one man speaketh to another” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley , 114).

“If prayer is only a spasmodic cry at the time of crisis, then it is utterly selfish, and we come to think of God as a repairman or a service agency to help us only in our emergencies. We should remember the Most High day and night—always—not only at times when all other assistance has failed and we desperately need help” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Howard W. Hunter , 80).

Using the following scale, privately evaluate your prayers. In your study journal, write answers to questions like these: Where would you place yourself on this scale? Where would you like to be on this scale? How are you going to change?

how do i pray in the spirit

Scripture Study

Why must you pray for the Spirit?

  • 2 Nephi 32:8–9

  • Doctrine and Covenants 42:14

  • Doctrine and Covenants 50:13–22

What should you pray for?

  • Alma 6:6

  • Alma 13:28

  • Alma 34:17–27

  • Alma 37:36–37

  • 3 Nephi 18:20

  • 3 Nephi 19:9

  • Doctrine and Covenants 50:29–30

  • Bible Dictionary, “Prayer”

Learn to Recognize the Promptings of the Spirit

The Spirit is always available to guide and direct you. However, the Spirit speaks quietly, through your feelings as well as your mind. One great challenge for you and those you work with is to recognize the quiet, subtle promptings of the Holy Ghost.

President Boyd K. Packer taught: “The voice of the Spirit is described in the scripture as being neither ‘loud’ nor ‘harsh.’ It is ‘not a voice of thunder, neither … voice of a great tumultuous noise.’ But rather, ‘a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper,’ and it can ‘pierce even to the very soul’ and ‘cause to burn.’ (3 Ne. 11:3; Hel. 5:30; Doctrine and Covenants 85:6–7.) Remember, Elijah found the voice of the Lord was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but was a ‘still small voice.’ (1 Kgs. 19:12.)

“The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all. …

“Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening and say in our manner and expression, like Samuel of ancient times, ‘Speak , for thy servant heareth.’ (1 Sam. 3:10.)” (“The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan. 1983, 53).

Many voices in the world compete for your attention, and they can easily drown out spiritual impressions if you are not careful.

Activity: Personal or Companion Study

Study the following table. Think of times when you have experienced any of the feelings, thoughts, or impressions described in the passages below. As you study and gain experience, add other passages to this list. Think of how you can use these principles to help others feel and recognize the Spirit.

Doctrine and Covenants 6:23; 11:12–14; Romans 15:13; Galatians 5:22–23

Gives feelings of love, joy, peace, patience, meekness, gentleness, faith, and hope.

Doctrine and Covenants 8:2–3

Gives ideas in the mind, feelings in the heart.

Doctrine and Covenants 128:1

Occupies the mind and presses on the feelings.

Joseph Smith—History 1:11–12

Helps scriptures have strong effect.

Doctrine and Covenants 9:8–9

Gives good feelings to teach if something is true.

Alma 32:28; Doctrine and Covenants 6:14–15; 1 Corinthians 2:9–11

Enlightens the mind.

Alma 19:6

Replaces darkness with light.

Mosiah 5:2–5

Strengthens the desire to avoid evil and obey the commandments.

John 14:26

Teaches truth and brings it to remembrance.

John 14:27

Gives feelings of peace and comfort.

John 16:13

Guides to truth and shows things to come.

Moroni 10:5

Reveals truth.

Doctrine and Covenants 45:57

Guides and protects from deception.

2 Nephi 31:18; Doctrine and Covenants 20:27; John 16:14

Glorifies and bears record of God the Father and Jesus Christ.

Doctrine and Covenants 42:16; 84:85; 100:5–8; Luke 12:11–12

Guides the words of humble teachers.

John 16:8

Recognizes and corrects sin.

Moroni 10:8–17; Doctrine and Covenants 46:8–26; 1 Corinthians 12

Gives gifts of the Spirit.

Alma 10:17; 12:3; 18:16, 20, 32, 35; Doctrine and Covenants 63:41

Helps to perceive or discern the thoughts of others.

Doctrine and Covenants 46:30; 50:29–30

Tells what to pray for.

2 Nephi 32:1–5; Doctrine and Covenants 28:15

Tells what to do.

1 Nephi 10:22; Alma 18:35

Helps the righteous speak with power and authority.

Doctrine and Covenants 21:9; 100:8; John 15:26

Testifies of the truth.

2 Nephi 31:17; Alma 13:12; 3 Nephi 27:20

Sanctifies and brings remission of sins.

1 Nephi 2:16–17; 2 Nephi 33:1; Alma 24:8

Carries truth to the heart of the listener.

1 Nephi 1:1–3; Exodus 31:3–5

Enhances skills and abilities.

1 Nephi 7:15; 2 Nephi 28:1; 32:7; Alma 14:11; Mormon 3:16; Ether 12:2

Constrains (impels forward) or restrains (holds back).

Doctrine and Covenants 50:13–22

Edifies both teacher and students.

Doctrine and Covenants 88:3; John 14:26

Gives comfort.

In answer to the question “How do we recognize the promptings of the Spirit?” President Gordon B. Hinckley read Moroni 7:13, 16–17 and then said: “That’s the test, when all is said and done. Does it persuade one to do good, to rise, to stand tall, to do the right thing, to be kind, to be generous? Then it is of the Spirit of God. …

“If it invites to do good, it is of God. If it inviteth to do evil, it is of the devil. … And if you are doing the right thing and if you are living the right way, you will know in your heart what the Spirit is saying to you.

“You recognize the promptings of the Spirit by the fruits of the Spirit—that which enlighteneth, that which buildeth up, that which is positive and affirmative and uplifting and leads us to better thoughts and better words and better deeds is of the Spirit of God” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 260–61).

God answers your prayers through personal inspiration and revelation. Through the Holy Ghost He will guide you in your finding efforts, as you teach the restored gospel, and as you strengthen returning members and new converts. Your task is to live worthily, pray fervently, and learn to recognize and follow courageously the Spirit’s guidance.

Relying on the Spirit

As the Lord’s servant, you are to do His work in His way and by His power. Some missionaries feel confident that they know how to be successful. Others lack such confidence. Remember, however, that your confidence and faith should be in Christ, not in yourself. Rely on the Spirit rather than your own talents and abilities. Trust the Spirit to guide you in every aspect of your work. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the Spirit is basic to teaching and preaching:

“No man can preach the Gospel without the Holy Ghost” (History, 1838–1856, volume B-1 , 756, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City).

“Some few were called and ordained by the Spirit of revelation and prophecy, and began to preach as the Spirit gave them utterance, and though weak, yet were they strengthened by the power of God” (Orson Pratt, A Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions , 24).

“ proceeded to give instruction to the Elders respecting preaching the Gospel, and pressed upon them the necessity of getting the Spirit, so that they might preach with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven” (History, 1838–1856, volume C-1 , 969, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City).

During your weekly and daily planning sessions, you will need to ask some basic questions every day—even many times each day (see the “Scripture Study” box that follows for examples of questions). Seek inspiration to answer these questions in a way that meets each situation. The answers should then take shape in your plans. But you should also be willing to follow the Spirit and change your plans when unforeseen opportunities arise.

Study the following scriptures and consider how they answer these important questions that you should ask each day. Consider what these passages mean for your finding efforts, planning sessions, and personal and companion study. Also consider their meaning as you teach the lessons, invite people to make commitments, follow up on commitments, strengthen new members and returning members, and work with members.

Scripture Study

Where should I go?

  • Helaman 10:17

  • Doctrine and Covenants 31:11

  • Doctrine and Covenants 75:26–27

  • Doctrine and Covenants 79:1–2

What should I do?

  • 1 Nephi 4:6

  • 2 Nephi 32:2–5

  • Doctrine and Covenants 28:15

  • Doctrine and Covenants 52:3–4

What should I say?

  • 2 Nephi 33:1

  • Alma 5:43–46

  • Alma 11:22

  • Helaman 5:18

  • Helaman 13:3–5

  • Doctrine and Covenants 33:8–10

  • Doctrine and Covenants 50:13–22

  • Doctrine and Covenants 68:1–4

  • Doctrine and Covenants 75:3–11

  • Doctrine and Covenants 100:5–8

  • Matthew 10:19–20

  • Mark 13:11

  • 1 Corinthians 2:4–5, 12–13

  • Exodus 4:10–12

How do I adapt my teaching to the needs of those I teach?

  • Alma 12:7

  • Alma 41:1

  • 3 Nephi 17:2–3

  • Doctrine and Covenants 71:1

  • Doctrine and Covenants 84:85

Which scriptures should I use and how should I use them?

  • Mosiah 18:19–20

  • Mosiah 27:35

  • Doctrine and Covenants 18:32–36

  • Doctrine and Covenants 32:4

  • Doctrine and Covenants 42:11–17

  • Doctrine and Covenants 68:1–4

  • Doctrine and Covenants 71:1

  • Doctrine and Covenants 80:4

  • Luke 24:13–32

A Word of Caution

As you pray for inspiration, you should also confirm your feelings. For example, compare your decisions with the scriptures and the teachings of the living prophets. Be certain that the feelings are consistent with the assignment you have; for example, you will not receive revelation to tell a local bishop how he should perform in his calling. Discuss your decisions and conclusions with your companion, your district leader, or your mission president when appropriate.

President Howard W. Hunter offered this counsel: “Let me offer a word of caution. … I think if we are not careful … , we may begin to try to counterfeit the true influence of the Spirit of the Lord by unworthy and manipulative means. I get concerned when it appears that strong emotion or free-flowing tears are equated with the presence of the Spirit. Certainly the Spirit of the Lord can bring strong emotional feelings, including tears, but that outward manifestation ought not to be confused with the presence of the Spirit itself” (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter , 184). The Spirit of the Lord always edifies.

Revelation and spiritual experiences are sacred. They should be kept private and discussed only in appropriate situations. As a missionary, you may be more aware of spiritual experiences than you have been earlier in your life. Resist the temptation to talk freely about these experiences.

President Boyd K. Packer counseled: “I have learned that strong, impressive spiritual experiences do not come to us very frequently. And when they do, they are generally for our own edification, instruction, or correction. Unless we are called by proper authority to do so, they do not position us to counsel or to correct others.

“I have come to believe also that it is not wise to continually talk of unusual spiritual experiences. They are to be guarded with care and shared only when the Spirit itself prompts you to use them to the blessing of others” (“The Candle of the Lord,” 53).

“If worthy, we are entitled to receive revelations for ourselves, parents for their children, and members of the Church in their callings. But the right of revelation for others does not extend beyond our own stewardship.”

Scripture Study

Relying on the Spirit is so important that the Lord warns us very strongly not to deny or quench the Spirit. What do you learn from the following passages of scripture?

  • Jacob 6:8–9

  • 3 Nephi 29:5–6

  • Mormon 9:7–9

  • Moroni 10:7–8

  • Doctrine and Covenants 11:25–26

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:19–20

Remember This

  • Pray with faith that your prayers will be answered.

  • Learn to understand, recognize, and follow the promptings of the Spirit.

  • Learn to rely on the Spirit to show you where to go, what to do, and what to say.

  • Teach others how to recognize the Spirit.

Ideas for Study and ApplicationPersonal Study

  • Record your spiritual experiences in your journal. For example, answer questions such as: Have I understood something better as I have studied the scriptures? Have I had unusual opportunities to meet people with whom I could share a message? Have I been given words to say at the moment I needed them? Have I had strong feelings of love for the people I have met? How have my prayers been answered?

  • Divide a page into two columns. Label one column “What the Lord Did” and the other column “What Lehi or Nephi Did.” Read the story of the Liahona and the broken bow (1 Nephi 16:9–30) or the story of Nephi building a ship (1 Nephi 17:7–16; 18:1–6). As you read, list events from the story in the appropriate columns. Consider what the story can teach you about the nature of inspiration.

  • Look through your journal and find occasions when you have been led by the Spirit or have experienced revelation or another gift of the Spirit. Think about when, where, and why these experiences happened. Did you do anything in particular to prepare yourself for such an experience? How was the Lord’s hand manifest in the experience? How did you feel? What can you do to have similar experiences? Remembering these experiences can help you recognize and receive the Spirit once again.

  • The book of Acts in the Bible has been called the “Book of the Acts of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles.” Read the chapter headings of the book of Acts and explain why this title may be appropriate. Find evidence to justify your explanation.

  • Study and ponder the following counsel. How does it relate to your daily missionary activities?

    “Tell the brethren to be humble and faithful and be sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord, that it will lead them aright. Be careful and not turn away the still, small voice; it will teach them what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their heart open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits—it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts, and their whole desire will be to do good” (quoted in Juvenile Instructor, July 19, 1873, 114).

    The Prophet Joseph Smith gave this counsel to Brigham Young in a dream almost three years after Joseph Smith’s death. If you were in Brigham Young’s place and received this counsel, what would you do?

  • Study Alma 33:1–12; 34:17–29, 38. What questions was Alma answering? (Review Alma 33:1–2.) How did Alma answer these questions? What assurances did he give that God hears and answers prayers?

  • The Lord has promised that the Spirit will guide us in many important ways. As you read the following passages, identify aspects of your work that require the guidance of the Spirit. What do the commandments and promises contained in the following scriptures mean for your personal and companion study? for district council, zone conferences, baptismal services, and other meetings?

    Praying

    • 3 Nephi 19:24

    • Doctrine and Covenants 50:30

    • Doctrine and Covenants 46:30

    • Romans 8:26

    Conducting meetings

    • Moroni 6:9

    • Doctrine and Covenants 20:45

    • Doctrine and Covenants 46:2

    Writing

    • Doctrine and Covenants 9:9

    • Doctrine and Covenants 24:6

    • Doctrine and Covenants 47:4

    • Doctrine and Covenants 104:81

    • Doctrine and Covenants 124:4

    • Moses 6:6

  • Read the following scripture passages (including the headings to these sections).

    • Doctrine and Covenants 60:1–5

    • Doctrine and Covenants 61:1–4, 21–22

    • Doctrine and Covenants 62:4–8

    In this account, what was very important to the Lord?

    What did not matter to the Lord?

    Consider the following statement by President Dallin H. Oaks:

    “ a strong desire to be led by the Spirit of the Lord but … unwisely extends that desire to the point of wanting to be led in all things. A desire to be led by the Lord is a strength, but it needs to be accompanied by an understanding that our Heavenly Father leaves many decisions for our personal choices. Personal decision making is one of the sources of the growth we are meant to experience in mortality. Persons who try to shift all decision making to the Lord and plead for revelation in every choice will soon find circumstances in which they pray for guidance and don’t receive it. For example, this is likely to occur in those numerous circumstances in which the choices are trivial or either choice is acceptable.

    “We should study things out in our minds, using the reasoning powers our Creator has placed within us. Then we should pray for guidance and act upon it if we receive it. If we do not receive guidance, we should act upon our best judgment. Persons who persist in seeking revelatory guidance on subjects on which the Lord has not chosen to direct us may concoct an answer out of their own fantasy or bias, or they may even receive an answer through the medium of false revelation” (“Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” Ensign, Oct. 1994, 13–14).

    What is the relationship between following your own judgment and relying on the Spirit?

Companion Study

  • Talk about the prayers you offer as companions. Are they guided by the Holy Ghost? Have you received answers to your prayers? When you pray as companions, do you:

    • Believe that God will give you what you ask for in righteousness?

    • Acknowledge and give thanks for answers to your prayers?

    • Pray for people by name and consider their needs?

    • Pray for each other and for the Spirit to guide you?

    • Receive answers to your prayers?

    Discuss as companions how you will seek the Spirit more earnestly.

  • Discuss the different ways that people describe the influence of the Holy Ghost. Write comments that those you teach have made about their experiences with the Spirit in learning the gospel and trying to keep commitments. How can you help others recognize this sacred influence? How can you avoid being manipulative as you do so?

  • Consider and discuss how the following counsel applies to you: “You cannot force spiritual things. Such words as compel, coerce, constrain, pressure, demand, do not describe our privileges with the Spirit. You can no more force the Spirit to respond than you can force a bean to sprout, or an egg to hatch before its time. You can create a climate to foster growth, nourish, and protect; but you cannot force or compel: you must await the growth” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Candle of the Lord,” 53).

  • Discuss the following statements and how these principles can change both your prayers and your work. How can your prayers influence your planning, goal setting, work, and activities each day?

    “Our deeds, in large measure, are children of our prayers. Having prayed, we act; our proper petitions have the effect of charting a righteous course of conduct for us” (Bruce R. McConkie, “Why the Lord Ordained Prayer,” Ensign, Jan. 1976, 12).

    “Sincere praying implies that when we ask for any blessing or virtue we should work for the blessing and cultivate the virtue” (David O. McKay, Secrets of a Happy Life , 114–15).

    “Ask to put you just where he wants you, and to tell you what he wants you to do, and feel that you are on hand to do it” (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe , 46).

District Council, Zone Conferences, and Mission Leadership Council

  • Present a lesson on using proper and respectful language in prayer.

  • As appropriate, have missionaries share a story or experience they heard in a recent testimony meeting, teaching experience, or other setting. The spiritual stories and experiences other people tell can help you develop faith and recognize that the Spirit’s influence is widely and frequently manifest.

  • Express gratitude for manifestations of the Lord’s hand in your work (see Doctrine and Covenants 59:21). Discuss how expressing gratitude helps you see the small but very significant ways the Lord blesses you (see Ether 3:5).

  • Ask the missionaries to give talks about the mission and power of the Holy Ghost.

  • Ask a recent convert to talk about how he or she was influenced by the Spirit as he or she learned about the Church.

Mission President, His Companion, and His Counselors

  • Occasionally ask missionaries to include appropriate spiritual experiences in their weekly letter to you.

  • In interviews or in conversations, occasionally ask missionaries about their morning and evening prayers. Ask them if they feel their prayers are meaningful.

  • Ask missionaries how they help those they teach feel and recognize the Spirit.

  • As appropriate, relate to missionaries how you receive revelation on transfers, missionaries who are disobedient or need help, and doctrine to teach.

Notes

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The concept of praying in the Spirit is mentioned three times in the New Testament. The first occurrence is found in 1 Corinthians 14:15: “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.” In this context, Paul is saying that praying in the Spirit is good, but something nobody understands is not much use to anyone (1 Corinthians 14:17). Paul’s desire was to love the Lord with all his soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:29–31; Matthew 22:37–40). In order to do this, both his prayers and his speech needed to be meaningful to both the heart and the mind. Paul’s reference to “praying in the spirit” here cannot be taken to mean something which the praying person themselves does not understand.

The second time praying in the Spirit is mentioned is found in Ephesians 6:18. Here, Paul shares, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (NIV). In this context, Paul instructed how to pray for him during his missionary efforts “for which an ambassador in chains” (Ephesians 6:20). He wanted believers to pray in the Spirit that God would allow him to speak the gospel boldly during his time in Rome.

The third time praying in the Spirit is mentioned is in Jude 1:20–21. Jude shares, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” Here, Jude includes all three Persons of the Triune God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit—to emphasize the important role each has in our lives. Through growth and prayer, believers were to increase in love for God as they prepared for eternity with the Lord.

Some interpret “praying in the Spirit” as a reference to praying in tongues or other languages that is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 14. However, the context of that chapter actually seems to be contrasting “praying in the Spirit” with speaking in tongues. In particular, Paul makes the point—of both—that there must be a message understood in order for there to be any meaning. Those who prayed in another tongue or language did so for the benefit of unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:22). Praying, or speaking, in words nobody understands is useless, and not commended anywhere in the Bible.

In addition, speaking in a tongue or language was mentioned as a gift available only to some in the church (1 Corinthians 12:7–11). In contrast, praying in the Spirit was a command given to all believers. Therefore, praying in the Spirit must be a different activity as all Christians were taught and expected to do so.

Praying in the Spirit is the biblical teaching of prayer with both emotion and intellect with complete dependence upon the Spirit of God to help pray appropriately to God the Father through Jesus the Son of God. When we pray in accordance with God’s Spirit we can pray according to God’s will and be confident of His perfect answer to our requests.

Related Truth: Praying in tongues – What is it? Is praying in tongues a prayer language between a believer and God?How can I walk in the Spirit?What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and when does someone receive it?What is the role of the Holy Spirit? How is the Holy Spirit active in our lives today?What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

Return to:
Truth about the Holy Spirit

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Last Updated on January 21st, 2019 how do i pray in the spirit

One of the steps of the last post was to pray in the Spirit. While it fit naturally into that post, I’m aware there are many misconceptions and controversy on this topic. I don’t want to add any division, but I did feel it necessary to at least explain what I mean more thoroughly.

What is the Controversy?

Praying in the Spirit has been a hot topic because for some it is a sign of greater maturity in Christ – for some it is even a sign that someone has the Holy Spirit. This doctrine comes from an interpretation of Acts where people displayed similar signs once they received the Holy Spirit.

Here are four of my principles when considering this debate:

  1. We are not to compare ourselves to others (2 Corinthians 10:12-13).
  2. The Holy Spirit is given to every believer (Ephesians 1:13-14).
  3. Many godly leaders never promoted praying in the Spirit: Billy Graham and Bill Bright.
    While other godly leaders did: Martin Luther, Dwight Moody, and John Wesley.
  4. God is looking for hearts inclined to Him. This is more important than doing right steps (Psalm 51:17).

I pray in the Spirit more than any of you – Paul  (1 Corinthians 14:18)

Because of the controversy, many churches, ministries, and Christians either shy away from the topic or push it to a time that has passed. Paul, however, steps into the firestorm and declares its importance to him and others. Even though he knew the Scripture so well that most of the New Testament was entrusted to him to write, he declared that praying in the Spirit was so important that he wished all would do it (1 Corinthians 14:4-5).

What Praying in the Spirit IS NOT

1. A sign to determine whether you have the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is a gift to all who put their trust in Jesus. Praying in the Spirit doesn’t guarantee that you are listening to the Spirit’s direction or following Him. It is also not a magical incantation that makes you a super Christian. Even thought Jesus’ yoke is easy, we still need to die to ourselves, whether you pray in the Spirit or not.

2. Dwelling on God’s goodness.
Because of lack of teaching on the subject, some believe that it is dwelling on God’s goodness which then releases the Holy Spirit’s desires for you. Dwelling on God’s goodness is amazing and beneficial to all believers, but it is not the same as praying in the Spirit. Praying in the Spirit has a spoken element.

3. The gift of tongues.
The gift of tongues is speaking in a real language unknown to the speaker. It is assumed it would be interpreted. The gift of tongues is a sign for unbelievers but praying in the Spirit edifies yourself (1 Corinthians 14:22 & 14:4). They may somehow be related, but if you put this criteria on your ability to pray in the Spirit, you will hinder the freedom God has placed on it.

What praying in the Spirit IS

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. – Romans 8:26-27

For each person it will sound differently, and like anything with God it takes faith. You will not know what you are saying. You may feel ridiculous, but that happens when you try something new. Just keep checking your heart. Are you doing it for Jesus? Do you feel closer to Him? More in love with others? For me, once convinced this was from God, I prayed to have the ability. Afterwards, as I spoke, I chose to trust it was from God as an act of faith.

Normal prayer is through our understanding using words we can comprehend. We engage the mind and make our requests known. But, when you pray in the Spirit, it bypasses the mind and engages your spirit. We may or may not know what we are praying for. As we pray in the Spirit, we do not limit our prayers to our understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15). Both ways of prayer are important. Don’t let the controversy surrounding this topic keep you from a tool God has given you to help your Christian walk.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. – Ephesians 6:18

  • Let me state again that this post is not intended to stir up debate. If you enjoy that type of mental exercise, there are many other sites that are maintained for that purpose. If you have a legitimate question, please post it below and I will do my best to answer it.
  • If you would like to read more on this topic, How to Pray for Release of the Holy Spirit by Dennis Bennett was helpful to overcoming a lot of confusion I had.

Original image courtesy of Jesus Culture

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Do you love the Lord Our God, just as He loves you? Do you love Him in the Person of the Holy Spirit, and wish to have more devotion to Him as the Holy Spirit? Learning how to pray to Him will be the best way.

Steps

  1. how do i pray in the spirit

    There are so many different prayers we may offer the Holy Spirit. One such prayer is very simple it is:

  2. how do i pray in the spirit

    “O, Holy Spirit, Beloved of my soul. .. I adore Thee. Enlighten me; Guide me; Strengthen me; Console me. Tell me what I should do… Give me Thy Orders. I promise to submit myself to all that Thou Desire of me and to accept all that Thou Permit to Happen to me. Let me only know Thy Will. Amen.”

  3. how do i pray in the spirit

    Another beautiful one is as follows:

  4. how do i pray in the spirit

    “Holy Spirit, Thou Make me see everything, and Show me the way to reach my ideal. Thou Who Give the Divine Gift to forgive and forget the wrong that is done to me and Who Are in all instances of my life with me. I, in this short dialogue, want to thank Thee for everything and confirm once more that I never want to be separated from Thee no matter how great the material desire may be. I want to be with Thee and my loved ones in Thy Perpetual Glory. Amen.”

  5. how do i pray in the spirit

    How to pray the Holy Chaplet (or Rosary) of the Holy Spirit:

  6. how do i pray in the spirit

    Begin by making the Sign of the Cross.

  7. how do i pray in the spirit

    Pray the Act of Contrition.

  8. how do i pray in the spirit

    Sing the hymn, “Come Holy Ghost.

  9. how do i pray in the spirit

    On the first 2 beads of each mystery, pray the “Our Father,” and the “Hail Mary.

  10. how do i pray in the spirit

    On each of the 7 beads, pray the “Glory Be to the Father...”

  11. how do i pray in the spirit

    The first mystery: Our Lord Jesus is Conceived By the Power Of the Holy Spirit in the Womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

  12. how do i pray in the spirit

    The second mystery: Our Lord Jesus Receives the Holy Spirit at His Baptism.

  13. how do i pray in the spirit

    The third mystery: Our Lord Jesus Is Driven into the desert By the Holy Spirit.

  14. how do i pray in the spirit

    The forth mystery: The Apostles receive the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.

  15. how do i pray in the spirit

    The fifth mystery: Our bodies are the Temples Of the Holy Spirit.

Community Q&A

Add New Question

  • Question

    How do I make my family believe in Christ if they don’t want to believe in Christ?

    You can’t make someone receive a free gift — you can only offer it to that person. Share the truth and then leave it alone and pray for the Holy Spirit to do the convincing. If your family members say no, respect that. Live an example before them and hope that they will eventually believe. Just don’t be the person who has no respect and keeps pestering and asking.

  • Question

    What does the word Amen means?

  • Question

    How do I love my enemies?

    Pray for them. Choose to see them how God sees them – he loves them. Just remember that you once led a sinful life before you became a Chrisitan, yet God showed us much love and sent Jesus to die for us. You can do it.

  • Question

    I want to worship in truth and spirit. What can I do to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

    Ask and you shall receive! The Holy Spirit is a free gift to all of us. Ask the Holy Spirit for His presence. Just make sure you are sincere, and believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is our Lord. Remember, you are loved.

  • Question

    God is love, and is unchanging, so why did He kill people in the Old Testament?

    Blackaddergoes4

    Community Answer

    Because in the Old Testament, the Israelites were God’s chosen people, and when other people wanted to destroy the Jews, they threatened the chosen people and God had to defend them.

  • Question

    Why do we need to invoke the holy spirit in prayer?

    Because the Holy Spirit Is the Person of the Trinity, who sanctifies the Christian and makes him/her holy.

  • Question

    Can a New Testament believer invoke the Holy Spirit?

    Yes, a Christian may pray to invoke the Holy Spirit.

  • Question

    How will I know I have been redeemed by God?

    You will see it or feel it. God will show you when he does. And he will always answer you, though his timing may be different from what you hoped.

  • Question

    How do I pray to regain my prophetic power that I lost somehow?

    Sometimes God gives you things for a certain time for a certain reason. It is not a power, it is a gift, a gift that can be taken away.

  • Question

    How do I pray for a loved one to change?

    Ask Mary or any saint to pray for your loved one’s redemption.

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Tips

  • There are many Gifts of the Holy Spirit .

9 of them are: (1 Corinthians 12:8-11):

    • Ability to give wise advice,
    • Special knowledge,
    • Special Faith,
    • Power to heal the sick,
    • Power to perform miracles,
    • Ability to prophesy,
    • Spiritual discernment,
    • Ability to speak in unknown languages,
    • Ability to interpret what is spoken.

Another 7 are: (Isaiah 11: 2 -3)

    • Wisdom,
    • Understanding,
    • Counsel,
    • Fortitude,
    • Knowledge,
    • Piety,
    • Fear of the Lord.
  • You may choose to pray using a Rosary chaplet, and a prayer book which includes prayers to the Holy Spirit.
  • The Holy Spirit has a very special love for the Virgin Mary. Love and cherish her even more than your own mother, and be blessed.
  • If you develop a real love for God’s Son, Jesus and follow His commandments, and believe the word of God, then follow these words: (John 14:23-24)
    • ‘”If anyone loves Me, he will keep My commandments; “
    • “and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.
    • “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.”

Warnings

  • The one unpardonable sin is Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This is not simply uttering irreverence against the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. This is a deliberate state of impenitence on the person’s part, which takes form in the following ways: Obstinacy in one’s own sinfulness; Despair in one’s own sinfulness (not believing in or trusting in the Divine Mercy Of God); Refusing repentance right up to the moment of death; Presumption in one’s own personal Salvation (thinking God “OWES” the person Heaven by ones merit); Envy of the Spiritual Gifts that are given to others; Refusing God’s Spiritual Truth, including the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Things You’ll Need

  • The Holy Bible (optional)

  • Praises, prayers and worship songs to God, calling upon the Father in Jesus name.

    • A Rosary chaplet.
    • A prayer book which includes prayers to the Holy Spirit.
    • Christian songs, which can be traditional hymns, to modern gospel music.

Article Info

wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 12 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time.

Categories: Catholicism | Prayer

In other languages:

Español: orar para invocar al Espíritu Santo, Italiano: Pregare per Invocare lo Spirito Santo, Русский: молиться, Чтобы вызвать Святого Духа, Português: Rezar Para Invocar o Espírito Santo, Français: prier pour invoquer le Saint Esprit, Bahasa Indonesia: Berdoa Memohon Roh Kudus

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