Many people ask why prayer in the spirit is so important. Very often, it’s used as a spiritual toy that we only take out to play with on Sunday mornings. Scripture lets us know that it’s much more than that.
But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
1 Corinthians 14:3-4
I’ve heard others talk about this passage of Scripture. As I’ve said before, some think it means, “Prophecy good, tongues bad.” The truth of the matter is that these are two totally different gifts that are to be used for two totally different purposes.
The reason God gives you the gift of this spiritual language is to edify you! The word, edify, literally means to build up. I can’t serve God without constantly being built up on the inside. One of the most important reasons that God has given us this gift is so that we can regularly strengthen ourselves by the spirit.
Look at what Paul says further down in this chapter.
For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.
1 Corinthians 14:14
This verse tells us that it’s our spirit, not our mouth that’s doing the praying. My mind doesn’t understand what’s taking place. This is because the communication that’s going on is spiritual. At one point the Lord gave me an excellent illustration to emphasize this truth.
During a sermon when I was speaking on this topic, I asked my Assistant Pastor to come up front to help me demonstrate. I gave him no prior warning as to what would be happening. I then gave him a CD player and told him to place the earphones on.
I told him and the congregation, that when I press the play button, my assistant would hear a pastor preaching a salvation message. What I wanted my assistant to do was to speak out loud exactly what the pastor on the CD was saying, word for word. The result got quite a reaction. This was because the pastor on the CD was preaching in the Korean language!
This is a beautiful picture of what happens when we pray in the spirit. Your mind hears your spirit praying in a language it doesn’t recognize – the language of the spirit. It tries to mimic it with your mouth but only ends up sounding unintelligible.
This is why what we hear coming out of someone’s mouth doesn’t always parallel what’s said by the gift of interpretation. Your spirit might be interceding for a need, while your mouth is merely saying “Praise the Lord” over and over again in Russian.
It’s interesting to note here exactly what the gift of interpretation is as mentioned in the Bible. The word the Apostle used means to put into words. Basically, this means that the message we hear by the gift of interpretation was not in words until it was interpreted. This goes right along with the truth that it’s our spirit praying and not our mouth.
This is also why the gift of tongues will cease after the resurrection. The only reason that we speak this way during the use of the gift is that our minds don’t grasp what’s taking place in our spirit. After the resurrection, we’ll still communicate with God in the spirit, but because our mind and body will be perfected, it will not have this outward effect anymore.
Question: How have you been built up by praying in the spirit?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi