Q. I’ve been reading your “Ask a Bible Teacher” articles for a couple months now and want to say thank you for all the time you put into this site. I have a question that has been on my heart and mind for a while now. I’ve understood ‘Praying in the Spirit’ to be following the leading of the Holy Spirit when we pray. (I’ve heard it said that praying in the Spirit is also speaking in tongues, but I’m not sure that’s entirely correct.) In Revelation 1:10. John says he was “in the Spirit” before hearing the loud, booming voice. Is this the same thing as praying in the Spirit? If not, what exactly does John mean when he says he was “in the Spirit”?
A. Like you, I believe praying in the Spirit means praying according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It can’t be praying in tongues because God understands all languages and doesn’t need to be addressed in any particular one. Also, in Ephes. 6:18 Paul said we should always pray in the Spirit. If that meant praying in tongues then that would be the only way we could pray.
I do believe that sometimes the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t know how to pray, but in Romans 8:26 Paul said those prayers are not expressed in words. To me that means no language is employed.
There are two popular opinions as to what John meant by saying he was “in the Spirit”. One is that he was seeing a vision, and the other is that he was transported to the end of the age in what some would call an out of body experience. Either way, John was given a detailed preview of events that will transpire during Daniel’s 70th Week.