Updated: Jul 11
My church recently completed a seven-day corporate fast. I decided to do a liquid fast with no “personal” agenda. I wanted to be still and listen. During the fast, I prayed very little in English, relying primarily on praying “in the spirit”. I noticed that my fast felt “easy”. I wasn’t struggling with tension, fatigue or hunger. At the end of the fourth day, I actually noticed an abundance of joy and peace. This internal observation got me to thinking about the difference between praying in the spirit and praying with my words, emotions and thoughts. It occurred to me God’s thoughts are higher.
I decided to research “praying in the spirit/tongues”, even though by faith, I have prayed this way for many years.
What is praying in the Spirit?
According to an article by Christianity today:
“Praying in the Spirit is prayer with divine help. It’s trusting in faith and relying on God to hear, understand, and act. Praying in the Spirit is a gift to be received through faith in Christ Jesus.”
According to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine:
Glossolalia, otherwise referred to as "speaking in tongues," has been around for thousands of years, and references to it can be found in the Old and New Testament. Speaking in tongues is an unusual mental state associated with specific religious traditions. The individual appears to be speaking in an incomprehensible language yet perceives it to have great personal meaning. Now, in a first of its kind study, scientists are shining the light on this mysterious practice -- attempting to explain what actually happens physiologically to the brain of someone while speaking in tongues.
"We noticed a number of changes that occurred functionally in the brain," comments Principal Investigator Andrew Newberg, MD, Associate Professor of Radiology, Psychiatry, and Religious Studies, and Director for the Center for Spirituality and the Mind, at Penn. "Our finding of decreased activity in the frontal lobes during the practice of speaking in tongues is fascinating because these subjects truly believe that the spirit of God is moving through them and controlling them to speak. Our brain imaging research shows us that these subjects are not in control of the usual language centers during this activity, which is consistent with their description of a lack of intentional control while speaking in tongues."
Newberg went on to explain, "These findings could be interpreted as the subject's sense of self being taken over by something else. We, scientifically, assume it's being taken over by another part of the brain, but we couldn't see, in this imaging study, where this took place. We believe this is the first scientific imaging study evaluating changes in cerebral activity -- looking at what actually happens to the brain -- when someone is speaking in tongues. This study also showed a number of other changes in the brain, including those areas involved in emotions and establishing our sense of self."
Are there benefits of praying in tongues?
Excerpt from Dr. Carl Peterson’s letter
(The Physical Benefit of Speaking in Tongues):
“Through research and testing he found out that as we pray in the Spirit, or worship in the Spirit, (our heavenly language) there is activity that begins to take place in our brain. As we engage in our heavenly language the brain releases 2 chemical secretions that are directed into our immune systems giving a 35 to 40 percent boost to the immune system. This promotes healing within our bodies. Amazingly this secretion is triggered from a part of the brain that has no other apparent activity in humans and is only activated by our Spirit led prayer and worship.”
This week’s reflection verses:
“Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
Romans 8:26-27 ESV
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”
Jude 1:20-21 ESV
“For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful.”
1 Corinthians 14:14 ESV
I recently read Creating a Habitation for God’s Glory (becoming a resting place for the power and presence of the Holy Spirit) by Todd Smith. I have included a (5 min) YouTube interview of his testimony.