Praying in the Spirit; February 27, 2023

Jude 1:20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.

I was tempted to go on to include verse 21, since the Japanese combines the two verses in one sentence, but recent events have made this verse seem particularly timely. Early in my introduction to the Charismatic Movement I was taught that this reference to “pray in the Holy Spirit” was talking about exercising the gift of tongues. I see no particular reason to counter that, particularly since Paul used that sort of terminology in writing to the Corinthians. (1 Corinthians 14:15) However, Paul also wrote to the Ephesians, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Ephesians 6:18) That would indicate to me that over-defining “praying in the Spirit” would be unwise at the very least. The reason this seems timely to me is that yesterday I encountered a social media post that was inquiring about the events at Asbury University. The original poster doesn’t have a Pentecostal/Charismatic background, so many things seemed strange to him, but he is very much a sincere disciple of Jesus Christ. I wish I could say the same about all his commenters! I haven’t seen such verbal violence against a Christian practice since I wrote a paper on “The Use of Tongues in Ministry” for a Systematic Theology class in a Southern Baptist seminary! We are indeed to be discerning, not “swallowing everything whole,” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22) but that same passage tells us not to “put out the Spirit’s fire.” The fire in some of those comments was certainly not that of the Holy Spirit!

To be honest, I don’t come from a Pentecostal/Charismatic background either, since my parents were Southern Baptist missionaries. However, as I mentioned a couple of days ago, my father visited the Shantung Revival in China as a new missionary, and that made him open to the idea that the Holy Spirit could work in ways outside of his previous experience. Returning to Japan, he did have a dramatic experience that I think was the baptism in the Holy Spirit, but to my knowledge he never had the gift of tongues (though he was an accomplished linguist). It was only about a year before my father’s death that I was introduced to the Charismatic Movement, but I immediately recognized it as something Biblical. I don’t need to go into the whole saga here, but I am convinced that all of the gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12, and more, are valid and operative today, but none are “necessary proof” of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I think of one dear saint who thought she had never been baptized in the Holy Spirit because she didn’t “exercise spiritual gifts,” but she absolutely radiated the love of God to a degree that was astounding, and that can only come from the Holy Spirit. As I experienced myself, the only definitive “sign” of the Holy Spirit is that expressed in Acts 1:8: the power to be a witness for Christ.

Father, thank You for all You have brought me through. Thank You for the depth and breadth of love that was expressed here yesterday, particularly after the service. I do pray for those involved in that social media post yesterday. May they open their hearts to allow You to wash them clean, pouring Your gracious, loving Spirit into them, so that the lies of the devil may be exposed and dispelled, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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