What does it really mean to pray in the Spirit?

Oghenovo Obrimah, PhD
4 min readNov 17, 2018

Many Christians are taught that to pray in the Holy Spirit is to operate in the Christian gift referred to as ‘speaking in tongues’. Rather unfortunately, Christian teachers who assert that ‘praying in the Holy Spirit’ is tantamount to speaking in tongues are sincerely wrong in their assertion.

While it is true that a person who speaks in tongues edifies himself or herself (1 Corinthians 14:4), and while it is true that people who speak in tongues may not themselves understand what it is they utter (1 Corinthians 14:14), whenever such persons simultaneously pray in tongues, it is unequivocally stated that they pray with their own spirits (1 Corinthians 14:13–14).

We have then that while praying in tongues is supposed to occur in the Holy Spirit, it is not definition of ‘praying in the Holy Spirit’. For evidence from nature, evidence from the human genome that speaking in words whose letter constructions appear not to connote communicable or recognizable language can be rational, see my post titled, The Mystery that is DNA.

I illustrate the difference between praying in tongues and praying in the Holy Spirit with some simple mathematical parlance.

In Mathematics, ‘Set A is contained in Set B’ implies that while everything that is defined to be ‘A’ also is ‘B’, everything that is ‘B’ cannot be construed to be ‘A’.

Let Set A denote praying in tongues, and Set B denote praying in the Holy Spirit. We have then that all else equal, while praying in tongues is praying in the Holy Spirit, it is possible to pray in the Holy Spirit, yet not pray in tongues.

What then is

praying in the Holy Spirit?

Whenever Christians pray in, or according to the will of God, they pray in the Holy Spirit.

In light of importance of demonstration of truthfulness of true definition of praying in the Holy Spirit, I provide first the following verse, Romans 8:26–27 (words in brackets and bold mine).

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…

Oghenovo Obrimah, PhD

Educator and Researcher, Believer in Spirituality, Life is serious business, but we all are pilgrims so I write about important stuff with empathy and ethos