Bible Question:

What does it mean to pray in the Spirit? I know that God is spirit and that Christ is the Truth.

Bible Answer:

The expression to “pray in the Spirit” or “praying in the Spirit” occurs in the Bible in only two places. Here they are:

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. (NASB) Eph. 6:18

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit . . . (NASB) Jude 20

The Greek wording is the same in both passages. So what does it mean?

General Meaning

In scripture the expression “in the Spirit” occurs twenty times. A few of the passages are as follows: Matt. 22:43; Luke 2:27; and Rev. 1:10. In the first passage, King David was in the Spirit when he wrote scripture. That is the Holy Spirit controlled what he wrote. In the second passage we are told that Jesus came to the temple in the Holy Spirit, and in the last one, the Apostle John received a vision when he was in the Spirit. In each passage the person was controlled and influenced by the Spirit to do something.

In The Spirit

Yet, scripture also tells us that every person who is a Christian is in the Spirit. That is, the Holy Spirit is either in us or He is not in us. That is God’s message in the following verse.

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. . . . (NASB) Romans 8:9

But every Christian also needs to be in the Spirit in another sense. He or she needs to be controlled by the Spirit. This is something that a Christian needs to ask for. It is called “walking in the Spirit” or “to be filled with the Spirit.” A person who is filled with the Holy Spirit has a pattern of victory over sin and joy in life. The evidences that a Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit are given in the chart below.


Evidence of Spirit Filled Life
Galatians 5:16-18Believer has increasing victory over sin.
Galatians 5:22-23Fruit of the Spirit grows in the believer.

Ephesians 5:18-20

Colossians 3:16-17

Believer experiences inward joy and thanks to God the Father

Ephesians 5:18-6:8

Colossians 3:16-24

Believer has a greater desire to submit to others.


Pray In The Spirit

Then what does it mean to pray “in the Spirit” in Ephesians 6:18? The answer is found in the context which started with Eph. 5:18. It means that the Holy Spirit has control of your life. You have willingly submitted your life to the Holy Spirit. We know that the Holy Spirit helps every Christian pray. God not only encourages us to talk to Him (or pray), He even helps us to pray.

And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words . . . (NASB) Romans 8:26

But there is a better way to pray. It is to pray while you are walking or being filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit has greater control of you. To pray in the Spirit does not mean a prayer language. This is a foreign idea to the book of Ephesians. Scripture never says that “praying in the Spirit” is a prayer language.


I would encourage you to read the study at the link entitled Filled With The Spirit. I would encourage you to pray. God wants you to talk with Him. Can you believe it. God wants us to talk with Him!