By now it should be clear to you that once you receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour, the Holy Spirit comes inside of you and activates your spirit. This is necessary because God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him can only worship Him in the spirit, not in the body. We glorify God with our body, but worship and connectivity to Him can only be done through our spirit.
One of the mysteries that has confused many believers for so long is the possibility of having a spirit being inside us, yet if you open or dissect our body, you won’t find a spirit. Well, this is simply because our spirit can only be located inside the Holy Spirit. In other words, you can’t be alive in the spirit without the Holy Spirit. And you can’t receive the Holy Spirit except you receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Once you receive Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes into you and activates your spirit.
Once you receive Jesus, you’ve become a person who lives in the spirit. In other words, you can now communicate with your heavenly Father who is a Spirit. But being filled with the Spirit or the Holy Spirit is entirely different from the encounter you had with the Holy Spirit at the point of salvation. Being filled with the Spirit in literal terms means to be equipped with the power of God or to be assisted by The Spirit of God. I believe this is why Jesus told the disciples that they would receive power after the Holy Ghost comes upon them. It was Apostle Paul who began to teach us the different dimensions, workings or gift of the Holy Spirit, of which one of them is the gift of diverse kinds of tongues.
I’ve mentioned that one of the signs that show when a person is filled with the Spirit is that he’d speak with tongues. There are 3 instances where this happened in the Bible, and so we can consider it a doctrine or a pattern. It is therefore possible to be living in the spirit but not be filled with the Spirit of God. You live in the spirit because the Holy Spirit activated your spirit at the point of salvation, but you get empowered by God to witness Jesus to the world when you are filled with the Spirit.
Let me also mention at this point that speaking in tongues simply means speaking in languages. Apostle Paul reveals two types of tongues in 1 Corinthians 13:1, it says, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal”. Clearly, the tongues that the disciples of Jesus spoke on the day of Pentecost were tongues of men. I don’t expect a mortal man to hear or understand the tongues of angels. The tongue of angels is most likely that which we communicate to God directly. However, it’s important to note that we don’t decide which tongues to speak, we only speak as the Holy Spirit gives us utterance. That’s why attempting to speak in tongues without being filled will remain a religious practice.
What happened on the day of Pentecost was phenomenal, they spoke in tongues after they were filled. Coincidentally, the people around heard what they were saying in their local languages. And all they heard was about the good works of God. Now this doesn’t mean that you’d be able to hear me each time I pray in tongues as a result of being filled, it just means that the Holy Spirit does the prayer according to God’s will. And God’s will at that moment was that the people around would hear of the good works of God. If you’d recall, the tongues that Cornelius and the other disciples that Apostle Paul prayed for were never interpreted, they probably spoke tongues of angels.
Once you’re filled, you’d speak in tongues. And if the will of God is that you or someone else hears what you’re praying, then that’s exactly what will happen. If the will of God is that someone somewhere should have a breakthrough or be delivered from trouble, then that’s what will happen as long as you pray in tongues.
If you understand what I’ve shared so far, then you’d understand the difference between praying in the spirit and praying with the spirit or in tongues. But let me show you a few scriptures:
1 Corinthians 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.
This was part of Apostle Paul’s discussion on speaking in tongues. He was comparing the act of speaking in an unknown language (unknown to those listening and speaking) and of speaking in a language that the listeners and speaker knew. Apostle Paul used the term to speak or pray in tongues to distinguish it from speaking or praying from the mind or a language you know. Therefore, when a person who is filled with the Spirit begins to speak in tongues, his mind does not know the language or what is being said.
Ephesians 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?
Jude 20 (NKJV)
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.
These two scriptures refer to something very different from 1 Corinthians 14:15. Many Bibles use a convention when referring to God. You will notice the capital “G” when the Bible text is referring to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The same convention is used here with respect to the Holy Spirit or the Spirit. The capital “S” means that it is referring to the Holy Spirit and not the spirit of man.
So while praying with tongues engages the influence or gift of the Holy Spirit to pray, praying in the Spirit relies on the word of God to have an effective prayer time. Praying in the Spirit means to pray in alignment to God’s word. It refers to a prayer that is birthed from an understanding of God, as opposed to mere words from the mind. We’re told in scriptures that God’s word is a Spirit that has life in it, so each time we pray the Word, we’re simply praying in the Spirit, and that action will give birth to the life that word carries. That’s right! Oftentimes we may not look anything like the Word we are praying with, but because the Word is a Spirit that has a life, when the Spirit of that word comes alive in us, it will create the life it speaks about (I really hope you understood that. I tried to explain it in the best way possible😂)
Whether you are praying in tongues or in the Spirit, true prayer is one that comes from within one’s inner being, which is our spirit. True prayer is more than words put together in the mind and spoken. Although praying in tongues is a special and advantageous case of praying in the Spirit – considering all that has been said, every born again believer should practice praying in the Spirit as Apostle Paul admonishes. You don’t need a special influence to pray in the Spirit, you just need salvation. Praying in the Spirit simply needs alignment and meditation on God’s word. The Spirit flows anywhere the word of God flows.
I hope this has brought enlightenment to someone.
Remain ever blessed, in Jesus precious name!