Some things are difficult to pray for. You don't know what to ask for. You don't know how to pray.
Your spirit feels the urgency of the need, but it is defiant. You want God to come on the scene and make a difference, but you don't know what to ask.
That is exactly the kind of situation that the Apostle Paul was referring to when he said, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered, And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God," Romans 8:26.
The Spirit makes intercession. That's what he said. Almighty God helps you make your case. He helps you express yourself. Not in the words of your native tongue, but in the language of the Spirit, you begin to pray.
That is all the same as if you stood before the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court trying to make your legal case, and you and your lawyers had completely run out of arguments. You knew that your appeal had already been articulated as best as it could be, and yet you could tell that the judges simply were not convinced.
Then suddenly, the Chief Justice himself began to articulate your argument more clearly, more explicitly, more convincingly than anything you and your lawyers had heretofore been able to express. He used exactly the right words; so much so that you stood in awe as the Chief Justice used legal vernacular that you had never even heard before. Your lawyers fell backward as the case they had struggled exasperatingly with suddenly came into focus, and your case seemed suddenly completely logical and convincing!
With the perfect argument now made (by him), the Chief Justice leaned back, and the court ruled in your favor!
I realize that is a wildly hypothetical scenario that would never happen in the real world, but when it comes to praying in the Spirit, that is NOT wildly hypothetical. That is EXACTLY what happens every time a believer goes to God with an inexplicable problem, and the Holy Spirit begins to intervene in prayer.
When you are praying in the Spirit, Almighty God is arguing your case to Himself! It just cannot get any better than that.
That is certainly why Paul said, "I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all," I Corinthians 14:18.
Now, I know that a lot of people object to praying in unknown tongues. They argue that you should never speak in tongues if there is no one there to interpret. But that is a complete error. That only forbids someone from raising their voice in the midst of a congregation, and creating confusion. Nothing in the scriptures forbids me to pray in tongues. It only teaches me not to disrupt a meeting by speaking loudly in unknown tongues if no one is there to interpret.
Otherwise, speaking in tongues is one of the most universal practices in the early church. The 120 spoke in unknown tongues in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost (in Acts 2). Nobody was standing around translating all of that praying. Then 3,000 people in the streets were filled with the Holy Ghost and spoke with other tongues. There were not 3000 extra translators standing around! EVERYBODY was talking directly to God as they prayed in the Spirit! In every New Testament case where people received the Holy Spirit, they spoke in unknown tongues, (i.e., Cornelius and his household, the Ephesians, etc.)
Again, Paul said, "For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries," I Corinthians 14:2. Nobody has any business judging you as you speak in tongues. Speaking in tongues is a PRIVATE language between you and God. You are praying more effectively when you pray in the Spirit, than at any other time in your life.
By praying in the Spirit, you are able to pray things that you could not possibly pray otherwise. You are praying more wisely and more accurately than at any other time, because you are praying in a language that only God understands.
Lots of people who oppose speaking in other tongues love to insult people who speak in tongues, as if speaking in tongues is something that only wackos do. They believe that speaking in tongues is for people with mental disorders or severe emotional problems.
I'm not going to deny that some Spirit-filled people have emotional problems, but that's all the more reason why they should be praying in the Spirit.
Paul said, "He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself;" and "I would that ye all spake with tongues." Any way you look at it, Paul heavily endorsed speaking in other tongues. You EDIFY yourself - you build yourself up - when you speak in unknown tongues. How? God flows through you. God helps you pray. God is WORKING for your good when you pray in tongues.
I've been praying in tongues since I was eleven years old, and I am unabashedly unashamed of it. I believe that praying in tongues is as Biblical, as scriptural, as doctrinally correct as ANYTHING a Christian can do. And to those who oppose it, I have a word from the LORD: "Wherefore, brethren, ...forbid not to speak with tongues," I Corinthians 14:39.
But far more important than the issue of its legitimacy, speaking in tongues is EFFECTIVE.
"For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also," I Corinthians 14:17-18.
Praying in the spirit is the only real way to pray in the midst of enemies. Speaking in tongues is cryptological. It is like spies sending secret codes in the presence of enemies. When you pray in the Spirit, Satan is powerless to intercept your prayers.
I am certain that Satan listens to us when we pray. And I am just as sure that he will do anything in his power to hinder us (Luke 11:52; Romans 15:22; I Thessalonians 2:18).
But when we pray in the Spirit, Satan is utterly clueless. It is impossible for Satan to "crack the code" of saints who pray in the Spirit.
I feel certain that is one of the principle reasons why Jesus was so pressed to baptize everyone with the Holy Ghost. "But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!" Luke 12:50.
John the Baptist knew, from the day he introduced Jesus to the multitudes, that the principal reason Jesus came to the earth was to baptize people with His Holy Spirit. "He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire," Matthew 3:11.
There is no more important reason why Jesus came into the world than to fill His people with His Spirit. And WHEN HE DOES, you will pray in the Spirit.
So, this all boils down to one overriding premise. Praying in the Spirit is one of the most rudimentary functions of being a child of God. If you do not pray in the Spirit, you are somehow missing out on the most basic, fundamental, essential activity for which you purported to become a Child of God.
Why do you NOT pray in the Spirit (if you don't)?
Begin right now. Isolate yourself in prayer. Shut out everything and everybody for a while. Get alone with God. Open up your heart. Let the Spirit come in. Then, let it flow.
You can do it. God will help you. He is the Chief Justice.
If you are interested in more information about the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, continue to this article:
The Baptism of the Holy Ghost