There are four ways to look at it. All four lead to the same highway – Men ought to pray “in the Holy Spirit.” And that is NOT tongues!
Paul says “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Eph. 6:18) and Jude says, “Pray in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20).
In order to understand this phrase in the light of the first point, we should realize that the New Testament tells us many different activities can be done “in the Holy Spirit.”
(1) It is possible to just be “in the Spirit” as John was on the Lord’s day (Rev. 1:10 compare 4:2).
On the Lord’s Day, I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,
(2) It is possible to “rejoice in the Holy Spirit” (Luke 10:21)
At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
(3) It is possible to decide something “in the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:21 KJV)
After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.
(4) It is possible to have one’s conscience bear witness “in the Holy Spirit” (Rom.9:1)
I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
(5) It is possible to have access to God “in the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 2:18)
For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
(6) It is possible to love “in the Holy Spirit” (Col. 1:8).
“You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.”
(7) It is possible to walk “in the comfort of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:31)
“Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.”
These expressions refer to dwelling consciously in the presence of the Holy Spirit, a presence characterized by the Godlike qualities of power, love, joy, truth, holiness, righteousness, and peace.
Therefore, it is important that all our ministry be done “in the Holy Spirit.” that is, we consciously dwell in that Godlike atmosphere created by the Holy Spirit.
To pray “in the Holy Spirit,” then is to pray with the conscious awareness of God’s presence surrounding us and sanctifying both us and our prayer. That is the first meaning of “praying in the Holy Spirit.” Systematic Theology allows us to use the Bible to interpret itself by looking at the way a particular word or phrase is used in all the books of the Bible and deriving its meaning from its general usage.
The Bible formula is that we pray to the Father, through the Son, and in the Spirit. Romans 8:26-27 says, “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.” This is because it is only in the Holy Spirit’s power we pray in the will of the Father, otherwise, our prayers could be selfish and out of the will of God. In Tabernacle Theology, there was a small golden altar standing before the veil, and here the priest burned the incense (Ex. 30:1-10, Luke 1:1-11). The incense is a picture of prayer. It had to be mixed according to God’s instruction and could not be counterfeited by man. The fire on the altar is a picture of the Holy Spirit, for it is he who takes our prayers and ignites them in the will of God.
Looking at it from the viewpoint of WordStudy, the Greek word translated “pray in” can have several different meanings. It can mean “by means of,” “with the help of,” in the sphere of,” and “in connection to.” Praying in the Spirit does not necessarily refer to the words we are saying. Rather, it refers to HOW we are praying. To this end, to pray in the Spirit means…
i. that we pray under his guidance and influence, under his energy and power.
ii. that we seek and ask his help as we approach the throne of grace.
iii. that we offer our bodies as an unbroken living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God (Romans 12:1) since they are the residence of the Holy Spirit.
iv. that we ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse our requests and ensure that what we ask is according to the will of God.
v. that we focus our minds and concentrate upon the Holy Spirit helping us to pray, and depend on him to help us. Romans 8:26, 27 tells us “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”
The Holy Spirit is a powerful arranger. It was the Holy Spirit that brokered the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ. The Book of Hebrews says “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:14). Jesus became our sacrifice but the sacrifice was offered through the Holy Spirit.
It is the same Holy Spirit that brokered our own salvation. The Book of Ephesians says, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory (Eph. 1:13). The Holy Spirit is the guarantor of our inheritance. Therefore, praying in the Spirit is praying secure in your position as an heir of God. How do you pray secure in your position as an heir? With confidence and assurance! Romans 8:14-17 says, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him, we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.”
When Jesus says, “pray in my name,” it does not necessarily mean that every prayer must end with “in Jesus’ name.” It simply means “pray in your authority as a believer in the finished works of Christ.” When the seven sons of Sceva were beaten by the evil spirit, the question the evil spirit asked before leaping on them was “Jesus, I know and Paul, I know, but who are you? The demon is asking, “In whose authority are you praying this?” In much the same way, when we pray in the Holy Spirit, we are praying in our secure position as the heir of God’s inheritance.
Unfortunately, men know too little about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, and that is why we ascribe praying in his name to praying in one of his many gifts – tongues.
THANK YOU FOR READING!!! ✍
– Pastor Tayo Ajibade holds a Ph.D. in Theology and teaches at The Gamaliel Seminary, MD, USA
Email: [email protected]