3 DIFFERENT WAYS TO PRAY IN THE SPIRIT (WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE WORDS)
Beloved, are you in a place where you do not even have words to say—let alone pray? Do you feel overwhelmed and confused, compelled to your knees in prayer yet not knowing how on earth to pray?
If so, you are not alone.
Ephesians 6:18 tells us that we are to be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” We often interpret the command to “pray in the Spirit” to mean speaking in tongues only. However, there are actually at least three ways to pray in the Spirit, and only one of them involves speaking in tongues.
Note: If you have asked the Lord for the gift of speaking in tongues, but you don’t feel that gift has activated in your life yet, read these two free resources that will equip you to activate this gift—no weird stuff or hocus-pocus included:
- How to Speak In Tongues free printable guide by Pastor Judy Jacobs
- 9 Power Gifts of the Spirit: Diverse Tongues free resource page by Jamie Rohrbaugh
“Praying in the Spirit” takes multiple forms—and only one of them involves speaking in tongues:
- You could pray in your native language through the inspiration of the Spirit. In this scenario, Holy Spirit gives you the burden, the unction, and the words to pray, even though you might not have had them in your head or heart before you began praying.
- The Lord could also lead you into “travailing prayer,” in which words fail you and you can only groan or keen before the Lord. This type of praying is gut-wrenching; it feels like you are literally giving birth (and you are—giving birth to the purposes of the Lord). In travailing prayer, you will generally find yourself groaning or even wailing before the Lord as His burden grips your body, soul, and spirit. Eventually, the burden from the Lord passes and you arrive at a place of peace. (This should only be done as inspired by the Spirit, not conjured up in your flesh.)
- Speaking in tongues (also called a “prayer language”), which is when Holy Spirit gives you the ability to speak earthly or heavenly languages you do not naturally know.
Recently, I have not known what words to use to pray over current events. I have simply been sinking to my knees and crying out to the Lord. Each time, however, I have heard Him instruct me: “Pray in the Spirit.”
For me, when I have heard that command of the Lord to “pray in the Spirit,” I have felt led to pray in my prayer language—and I want to encourage you to pursue and use this gift today. (Be sure to check out the free resources above if you have already asked the Lord for this gift, but haven’t seen it activated in your life yet.)
This powerful gift of the Spirit—the gift of diverse tongues—is listed in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, which says:
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:
You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
This passage lists nine “power gifts,” or supernatural demonstrations of God’s power through abilities that Holy Spirit gives you. These nine power gifts are:
- Words of wisdom;
- Words of knowledge;
- Working of miracles;
- Discerning of spirits;
- Different kinds of tongues; and
- Interpretation of tongues.
These gifts are spiritual, supernatural abilities God gives you when Jesus baptizes you in the Holy Spirit. Every person may not receive all of the gifts at the exact same time, but all of them can be had for the asking. J
I repeat: Every believer in Christ, including you, can receive ALL of these gifts if you just ask the Lord for them! We know this from Psalm 84:11, which says:
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).
But the gift of tongues is particularly important to every intercessor right now.
Why? Because the gift of diverse tongues IS a way to commune intimately with God when we don’t know what to say. Using this gift helps us pray perfect prayers, even when we have no idea what specifically to pray for or about.
First Corinthians 14:1-5 tells us this:
- that speaking in tongues is speaking directly to God; and
- that it is a language for prayer.
This passage says:
“Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification” (1 Corinthians 14:1-5, emphasis mine).
When you speak in tongues, you speak mysteries in the spirit. This means you are speaking things to God that you don’t even know; you are speaking the perfect language of God. You are also building yourself up—and we all need that right now, don’t we? J
Romans 8:26-27 teaches us that Holy Spirit makes intercession for us. This passage says:
“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. 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.”
The Lord shows us in this passage that Spirit-led prayer is the Holy Spirit of God Himself making intercession on our behalf. And even when that intercession comes out of our own mouths in the form of literal groaning and moaning—which we often call “travailing prayer”—His intercession through us and for us is perfectly in line with the will of God.
So beloved, if you don’t know what to pray today, it’s okay. You don’t have to—because you know the One who does.
If you’re so overwhelmed, confused, and uncertain of what to pray that you can’t even form words, don’t worry about it. Instead, when you go to pray:
- Just fall to your knees and ask Holy Spirit to intercede for you and through you in His supernatural language of the Spirit, even to the point of moaning and groaning in travailing prayer if He wants to.
- Ask Him to inspire your words if you want to pray in your native language.
- Yield yourself up as a vessel through which He can pray His own perfect will.
- Admit your frailty and uncertainty to the Lord—but also confess your faith in His strength and wisdom.
- Confess your faith to the Lord that He is willing and able to pray through you and for you RIGHT NOW, in any and all of the three major ways He gives us to pray in the Spirit!
And He will.
Beloved, when you don’t know how to pray, you don’t have to try and figure it out. Just rest in the Lord:
- Go to prayer and pray in the Spirit.
- Let Him inspire your prayers; He is the mightiest Intercessor on earth.
- Use your prayer language.
The prayers you lift up to Father using the language of the Spirit will be perfect prayers through the power and intercession of God Himself, and they will accomplish God’s perfect will on the earth.
Jamie Rohrbaugh is an author and speaker who equips people to walk in the manifest presence and power of God. Jamie blogs for a global readership at FromHisPresence.com, where she writes about radical prayer, the prophetic word, the supernatural lifestyle, inner healing, and Kingdom wealth. She is a frequent contributor to Charisma Magazine, The Elijah List, Spirit Fuel, and various other ministry outlets. You can download her free ebook containing 555 names of God for prayer and worship here. (Photo Credit: Unsplash.)
Has praying in the Spirit in any one of the three ways listed above been vital for you in these days as well? If so, leave a comment below—and tell us which of the three methods of praying in the Spirit you enjoy the most!
Partner with Us
Intercessors for America is the trusted resource for millions of people across the United States committed to praying for our nation. If you have benefited from IFA's resources and community, please consider joining us as a monthly support partner. As a 501(c)3 organization, it's through your support that all this possible.