How do you pray in the spirit


How do you explain verse 20 of Jude? What is prayer in the Holy Spirit?

Before searching for an explanation, I would like to read the entire verse where this expression comes from:

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, (Jude 1:20)

Whenever we want to understand a text or phrase from the Bible you need to study the context in which it written. In order to understand the words written in the Epistle of Jude, it is important to consider the reason that led the author to write. Here’s what he says:

3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude)

The recipients of this epistle were in danger, specifically, their faith because a certain group of ungodly men had begun to impose a strange doctrine which insisted that they change the grace of God into lasciviousness (license to sin). The author explains that the promoters of this heresy were adulterers, trapped in sensual bondage with minds so distorted that they even promoted homosexuality, as a Biblical doctrine, in the church. The same thing happens today in some of the prominent countries of this world. The Bible teaches us that there is nothing new under the sun, everything that happens now has happened before. After Jude finishes his description of the ungodly, their sins, and warning of their deception, he then gives instructions to the Christians on how to protect themselves. First, he tells them to build themselves up in their most holy faith that was given to the saints once for all time. He then tells them to pray in the Holy Spirit. Praying in the Holy Spirit means praying according to what the Holy Spirit tells you. In the Gospels, Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would guide the believers into all truth. The truth is revealed in the Scriptures so the Holy Spirit will help us understand God’s teaching in the Bible. The Holy Spirit will never, ever contradict the teachings of the Bible. Praying in the Holy Spirit means praying according to God’s teachings in the Bible.

Praying in the Spirit is contrasted with the lusts of the flesh that control the ungodly men who live in lasciviousness (license to sin). There is a very similar situation explained in the Gospel of John chapter 4 when Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman. Jesus confronted her sin, which was immorality. She had lived with 5 different men and her current one was not her husband either. Immediately, she wanted to change the subject and talk about worship, which is the correct place, Jerusalem or the mountain near Sychar. Jesus approached the heart of true worship. True worshipers were to worship God in Spirit and in Truth. She got the point of His message which was the current problem among the people who claimed to worship God was that they were arguing over the form or style of worship while at the same time, living as slaves to the sins of the flesh. Jesus explained that our worship pleases God when we live by the Holy Spirit’s guidance, according to the Truth of the Bible. The same is true with praying in the Holy Spirit. In order to do this, you must live according to the Holy Spirit’s urgings as the Bible teaches.

There is a wave of teachings today, religious ones, which try to convince people that praying in the Spirit means some kind of mystical experience or language and they usually use this passage in Jude to justify themselves. These practices are not “praying in the Spirit”. Nowhere in the Bible does anyone mention these “mystical” practices that many revert to today. They are not acceptable actions because they do not align with Scripture. I want to challenge you with Jude’s words, “contend earnestly for the faith which was handed down once for all”.

Translation by: Erik Brewer
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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?

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Truth about the Holy Spirit
Last Updated on January 21st, 2019 how do you 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

Have you ever noticed the words “praying in the Holy Spirit” in your bible as you read?  Or have you heard the phrase?  Have you stopped to ponder what it means to pray in the Holy Spirit?  Have you ever thought to yourself, “Am I praying in the Holy Spirit?”

I had two lovely ladies ask me last week what it meant, and so I thought it would be a wonderful topic for an article to share with you all–just in case you didn’t already know and were curious too.

I’m not going to feed you through what I think it is, or what so-and-so said it is.  And please don’t fall for someone telling you that God revealed this thing to them that’s been around for 2000 years that  “just wasn’t mentioned in the bible.”  Do you think I buy for one second that God’s sitting around and went, “Oh no!  I totally forgot to mention that!  I’m going to have to tell someone so they can tell people.”  Um…no…  He is Holy, and perfect.  He didn’t forget anything.

So…let’s go directly to His Word.

I can only find three places in the bible (all in the New Testament, not surprisingly) that mention it:

15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.            1 Corinthians 14:15

So, what does this teach us?  It doesn’t tell us what praying in the Spirit is.  It just tells us that praying in the Spirit is.  It’s something different than praying with understanding.  Most simply, it tells us that not all prayer is praying in the Holy Spirit.  We’ll come back to this.  Second verse:

18 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

There are two things in this passage I want to point out (although we could write a book on this right here).  First; Paul tells us to pray in the Spirit on all occasions.  We know that Paul spoke in tongues, but we all also know very clearly that he was not speaking in tongues every time he prayed.  Since he is telling us to pray in the Spirit on all occasions–yet clearly by his modeling he did not do this in tongues every time–there has to be a difference.  Ergo, praying in the Spirit is not the same as speaking in tongues.

The second thing is that it apparently takes an effort.  If whenever we talked to God it was “in the Spirit,” Paul would not have had to tell us to do so.

Quick recap:  1–Not all prayer is in the Spirit.  2–Praying in the Spirit can and should be done even if you never speak/pray in tongues.  3–You need to put an effort into it.

Moving on to the last verse I could find:

20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,                             Jude 20

Interesting… “Most holy faith…”  For another time… 🙂

So…  If I use the only three verses I can find on praying in the Holy Spirit, do I know what it is?  No.  I know about it–but it hasn’t been defined.  What do you do in an instance such as this?  Go to the translations.

When I look in the Greek for each of these translations, they are all a bit different.  That’s interesting too…  I find translations for:

“in connection to”

“with the help of”

“by means of”

(Note:  I didn’t write those in any particular order, those were just my notes as I sat down to write, and I didn’t mark my dictionary, sorry.)

So… in looking at God’s Word, and then the translations, I conclude that praying in the Holy Spirit is not what you pray, but rather how you pray it.

We needn’t look any farther.  It’s like Heaven– the bible doesn’t say much about it.  If we want to know what it is, we can read His word, and look at the translations from original script (or the Greek in these three cases).  Anything else is just speculation.

That’s all I have to go on.  His Word and translations.  These two combined tell me that praying in the Holy Spirit is praying with the Spirit’s help and power, and according to His will.  (See also Romans 8:26 for the Holy Spirit’s intercession.)

So how do you pray in the Holy Spirit?

How would one go about praying with the Spirit’s help?  With the Spirit’s power?  And according to His will?

First,  you would need the Holy Spirit inside of you.  The bible tells us this happens when we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior and to come inside us and lead us.  Without this, we cannot go any further.

This is the part I’m challenging you to do Friends if you haven’t already: Ask Him to help you pray.  Ask Him how to pray and even what to pray for.  Then be quiet and listen.  You will be amazed what comes to your heart.

Our prayers can be transformed.  I have been working on this for quite some time myself.  I want all my prayer to eventually be in the Spirit as Paul instructs us.  There are some prayers that I really get stuck on just praying with my heart and mind without inviting the Spirit in for.

Like saying Grace at the table–it kinda becomes a habit for us in the Farmer house.  Definitely when I’m saying morning, nap-time and evening prayers with my kids–because I notice that when I am praying in the Spirit, I’ll open my eyes and at least one has wandered off without my noticing 🙂 .

I’ve got a lot to work on in this area.

how do you pray in the spirit

How about you?  Have you deepened your relationship?  I’d love to hear comments from those of you who are just starting out on this journey as well as from our Titus 2 women who have been working on this for awhile.


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