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Praying in the Spirit vs. Speaking in Tongues

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April 27th, 2014 | Filed Under: Author, Mitch Kuhn, Q and A, Tongues0 Comments | Author:

Hi E____,

I’ll answer your question by explaining the meaning of praying in the spirit and speaking in tongues spiritually.

We all start off as carnally minded beasts with no ability to understand things spiritually. Many Christians in Charismatic denominations think that praying in the spirit is praying in tongues or praying in some private prayer language. They then speak gibberish and claim that it is the spirit of God causing them to pray. Most of these Christians are quite sincere and simply do not know that they are under strong delusion sent from God to keep them from the truth.

2Th 2:11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,

All of the scriptures come in parables to those that have not been given eyes to see.

(Mat 13:10 NKJV) And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”
(Mat 13:11 NKJV) He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.

There are a number of verses that command us to pray in the Spirit. Notice the other commands that are given along side this command to pray.

Jude tells us that we are to build ourselves up in the most holy faith, and then says “praying in the holy spirit”.

(Jud 1:20 NKJV) But you, beloved, building yourselves up [in] your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,

Paul tells the Ephesians to pray always and also to be watchful to the end.

(Eph 6:18 NKJV) praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

God wants us to grow in our understanding and knowledge that we may be fruitful. Therefore praying in the Spirit or speaking in tongues is not about speaking gibberish that we do not understand. This is not a new problem in the Church. Paul explained to the Corinthians the purpose of speaking in tongues in 1 Cor 14.

(1Co 14:12 NKJV) Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.
(1Co 14:13 NKJV) Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret.
(1Co 14:14 NKJV) For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.
(1Co 14:15 NKJV) What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.
(1Co 14:16 NKJV) Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say?
(1Co 14:17 NKJV) For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.
(1Co 14:18 NKJV) I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all;
(1Co 14:19 NKJV) yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

The goal is to grow in the faith, to remain vigilant, and endure, all of which are furthered by increasing our understanding. We can either pray in the spirit or we pray according to the flesh. In the scriptures, the spirit is always contrasted with the flesh.

(Gal 5:16 NKJV) I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
(Gal 5:17 NKJV) For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
(Gal 5:18 NKJV) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

So what does it look like if we pray after the flesh? Christ tells us how not to pray.

(Mat 6:5 NKJV) “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
(Mat 6:6 NKJV) But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
(Mat 6:7 NKJV) And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

We are also told why we do not receive what we ask for.

(Jas 4:3 KJV) Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

When we are yet carnal, we treat God like a magic genie in a lamp or Santa Claus, we just ask for him to give us the lust of our hearts. Christ tells us the proper way to pray in Matthew 6:10.

(Mat 6:8 NKJV) “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
(Mat 6:9 NKJV) In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
(Mat 6:10 NKJV) Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

God is a good father and knows exactly what we need before we even ask. Prayer is really about getting our will in align with his will. Our carnal mind and flesh needs to be put to death, that we may live according to the Spirit of God and do his will.

(Rom 8:13 NKJV) For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
(Rom 8:14 NKJV) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

(Rom 8:26 NKJV) Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
(Rom 8:27 NKJV) Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

When the spirit of God is working within us, we will be compelled to pray as Christ instructed, “Father thy will be done”. We will be convicted to do what is right, to study to show ourselves approved, to get wise counsel, and seek diligently to attain the prize and enter the Kingdom of God. So, much of this battle takes place in our hearts and minds without a word ever spoken; it is an inward dragging of our hearts to Christ and the Father.

The Spirit of God will guide us into all truth and give us deeper understanding of the will of God.

(Joh 16:12 NKJV) “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
(Joh 16:13 NKJV) However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

This will result in us walking in the Spirit and bearing the fruit of the Spirit.

(Gal 5:22 NKJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
(Gal 5:23 NKJV) gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
(Gal 5:24 NKJV) And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
(Gal 5:25 NKJV) If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

All of this knowledge of spiritual matters is hidden from the natural mind.

(1Co 2:14 NKJV) But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Speaking in tongues was a gift that enabled followers of Christ to communicate with others in their own language as witnessed in Acts 2 on Pentecost.

(Act 2:4 NKJV) And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
(Act 2:5 NKJV) And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.
(Act 2:6 NKJV) And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.
(Act 2:7 NKJV) Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?
(Act 2:8 NKJV) And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?

The early Church and Christ’s ministry was full of miracles. There were countless miraculous healings, people were raised from the dead, and many spoke in tongues (different languages). Yet all of this was a shadow of the true spiritual miracles to come. The Milk Doctrines found in Hebrews 6 are about a shift from a physical understanding of things to a spiritual understanding.

Being raised from the dead is about us being given new life in Christ and becoming a new man within. Laying on of hands is about being spiritually healed that we may be healthy spiritually and walk in the Spirit, etc. Speaking in tongues is the very same thing; it is a shadow of how God’s people will be given the ability to understand the symbols and parables of the bible and explain them to others in due time.

This article explains in greater detail:

Someone can speak encouraging words to you in a foreign language, but you will not be encouraged unless someone interprets so you understand. The scriptures are the exact same way. You can read the bible over and over and not understand the true good news that God is totally sovereign over all things and is working towards the restitution of all things.

(Act 3:20 NKJV) and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before,
(Act 3:21 NKJV) whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.

(Rom 8:20 NKJV) For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;
(Rom 8:21 NKJV) because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Our job as Kings and Priests of the God most high is to explain the mystery of the Kingdom of God to others, and to interpret the tongues of the bible that they may understand and believe and be saved in due time.

(Pro 25:2 NKJV) It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

(Col 1:25 NKJV) of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God,
(Col 1:26 NKJV) the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.
(Col 1:27 NKJV) To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

We will be caused to pray in the Spirit according to God’s will, and then to speak in tongues of the Holy Scriptures and interpret to proclaim the good news.

(Act 8:30 NKJV) So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
(Act 8:31 NKJV) And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.

(1Co 14:18 NKJV) I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all;
(1Co 14:19 NKJV) yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

I hope this helps answer your questions,

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