"Does praying in the spirit equate to praying in tongues?"
First we need to understand what the Bible means by praying in tongues and what is meant by "in the spirit." At Pentecost the disciples began to pray in other tongues as the Spirit (of God) gave them utterance. The word "tongues" here comes from the Greek word "glossa" and it means literally the tongue, but figuratively it means a language and typically one not naturally acquired. Speaking in tongues therefore is the ability to speak in a different language that you had never learned. I speak English and I don't know how to speak or read Spanish. If all of a sudden the Spirit of God caused me to speak in Spanish for whatever reason then one would say that I spoke in tongues. So tongues means language. Paul also seems to denote a language that is not of this earth, which many call a "prayer language." However, from a biblical perspective, praying or speaking in tongues is simply to pray or speak in a different language.
In the spirit could mean various things. Consider the following scripture.
John 4:24 (NKJV) God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
Typically a capital "S" is used in the Bible when the Holy Spirit is being referenced. Notice the first Capital "S" in the first occurrence of "Spirit" and the lower case "s" in the second occurrence. Basically this is the translator's attempt to specify the context. The first "Spirit" refers to the Holy Spirit, i.e., God. The second "spirit" refers to the spirit of man. What is the spirit of man? One could consider the spirit of man as his (or her) inner core. Today we might think if it as the subconscious to an extent, the inner you so to speak. Your spirit is the core of your being. It is the principle component of you. This scripture says that we should worship God from our inner being and in sincerity. Let me explain.
Consider the following scriptures that use "spirit," which denotes the principle of human, the inner self, the core of our being so to speak: Luke 1:17, John 11:33; Acts 20:22; 1 Corinthians 14:2; Ephesians 4:23; 1 Peter 4:6. Notice how these refer to the humans spirit.
Now consider the following scriptures that use "Spirit," which denotes the Spirit of God or God himself or the essence of God: Luke 10:21; Acts 19:21; Galatians 3:3; Revelations 1:10; 1 Timothy 3:16. Notice how these refer to God or the Holy Spirit.
Now consider a scripture that refers to praying in the spirit (lower case 's'):
1 Corinthians 14:14-15 (NKJV) "For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 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. "
Here Paul is talking about a person praying from their inner being. A person who prays in the spirit or with the spirit is one who is praying from within and not just saying words or going through the motions so to speak. However, we can also pray in the Spirit (Holy Spirit). Galatians 5:16 tells us to "walk in the Spirit." The phrase "in the Spirit" (capital 'S') could be understood as praying with God, in the presence of God, or in the midst of God.
Therefore, you see that we can pray in the spirit or the Spirit and not speak in tongues. However, if one does speak in tongues or pray in tongues (other languages), then it is the Spirit of God that has endowed that person to do so. Therefore, we would say that such a person is praying in the "Spirit" or with the Spirit. That person could also be praying from his very core or soul and we would say he or she is praying in the spirit.
So praying in the spirit does not equate praying in tongues. The Bible does not tell us that all will have the gift to speak in another language. However, we can from our own will pray in the spirit, that is from our core in addition to praying in the presence of God. Praying in the spirit means that your heart is in it and that the prayer is from the heart in the first place. Praying in tongues simply means that the words that you say are not from the language or languages that you know, but are another language. Some would say that the language could be non-human, but that would have to be between that person and God because the understanding is not edified. I'd rather not get into that since it seems to be well beyond this question.
- Pastor Bill
|© <%= year(date) %> Pursuing the Truth Ministries|