The Holy Spirit: Power for a Worship Leader in Private Prayer

So far in this little blog series on the Holy Spirit I’ve tried to lay a biblical foundation for a robust and unashamedly zealous belief in and dependence on the Holy Spirit. What we believe in is incredibly important. But the rubber meets the road when we start to put our faith, and our dependence, in what we believe.

In the case of the Holy Spirit, it’s a “who” we believe, not a “what”. The Holy Spirit is a person. He is the very breath of God in our very midst and so this should (obviously) make a difference to how we live. It should also make a difference to how worship leaders lead worship.

Power in private prayer
Perhaps one of the greatest ways the Holy Spirit helps us is in our prayers. We don’t always know what to pray. We don’t always know what to pray for. We don’t always feel like God is listening to our prayers. And we don’t always feel like praying.

Worship leaders can often despair in private about whether or not what they’re doing really matters. We can worry and become anxious about our congregations, persistent roadblocks, or fears of our inadequacies. This is why worship leaders need to pray with the help of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit knows what we should be praying for because he knows the very thoughts of God (1 Corinthians 2:11), and because he searches our heart (1 Corinthians 2:10). The Holy Spirit reassures us that God is our Father (Galatians 4:6).

The Holy Spirit also “intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” when “we do not know what to pray for as we ought” (Romans 8:26). Paul speaks of praying with his mind, but also praying with his spirit (1 Corinthians 14:15). This is where the phrase “praying in the spirit” comes from, and this is why the gift of tongues can be so edifying.

When we pray “in the spirit”, or pray in tongues, we have no idea what we’re praying. Paul says that when he prays in tongues, his “mind is unfruitful” (1 Corinthians 14:14). So, his answer is to pray with his mind (using his native language, understanding what he’s praying for) and to pray with his spirit (praying in a different tongue, inspired by the Holy Spirit, meaning he doesn’t understand what he’s praying, but is letting the Holy Spirit, who knows the very thoughts of God, pray through him).

I find myself, when praying with our worship team before a service, opening our prayer time in English, and then while leaving room for others to contribute their own prayers, I pray in the spirit under my breath. I’ve run out of English words. I don’t know what I’m praying. But I know I need God’s help. And I know he knows my heart, the hearts of my entire worship team, and the hearts of the entire congregation.

I can’t explain the kind of peace and assurance and strength that comes from this time. We could have had the craziest morning ever and all sorts of things could be going wrong. When I pray in the spirit, something incredibly sweet happens. The Holy Spirit – living in me, praying for me, through Jesus, to the Father – empowers me to point people to Jesus, just as he does at all times.

5 thoughts on “The Holy Spirit: Power for a Worship Leader in Private Prayer”

  1. Hi Jamie.

    I appreciate your boldness in writing of your views on this topic. Of course I agree with you that we are utterly dependent on the Holy Spirit for Christian living and for effective ministry. I’m grateful for your clear sounding of that truth.

    A clarification I’d like to get from you: Are you making a distinction between the gift of tongues and praying in tongues? It seems like you’re suggesting all Christians are able (or at least should be able) to pray in tongues. Your use of Romans 8:26 as support for a private prayer language certainly seems to indicate this idea. Am I reading you correctly?

    1. Hi Kyle.

      The gift of speaking (and I suppose singing too) in tongues does seem to be a separate exercise from praying in tongues. The apostles, Gentiles, and new Christians speak in tongues in Acts 2, Acts 10:46, and Acts 19:6. In 1 Corinthians 13:1, Paul says he can “speak in the tongues of men and angels…”. Paul tells the church in Corinth he wants them all to speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:5).

      Then there is praying in tongues. Paul says “if I pray in a tongue…” (1 Corinthians 14:4). He says to “pray in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18).

      So, yes, I do make a distinction between speaking and praying in tongues.

      But I absolutely don’t mean to suggest that all Christians are able to pray in tongues. I know of many Christians who have prayed for this gift but haven’t received it. I don’t know John Piper personally, but he has said (it’s on a YouTube video somewhere) that he’s prayed for this gift but not received it. This seems to mesh with 1 Corinthians 12:4 that says there are “varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit”.

      The fact that “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” in an encouragement for every single Christian, those who do and those who do not speak/pray in tongues. I should have been clearer about that.

      Thanks Kyle!

  2. Thank u Jamie many people dont remenber to prayer for worship leader but only for pastor, evangelist etc but your post encourage m to share wit ma friend why we need to pray for the worship leader like we pray for pastor ministry everyday.
    Thank you and God bless.

  3. May God keep on blessing you for the great work you are doing in making known of the power of worship…

  4. I was searching online for encouragement to worship leaders in staying filled up after pouring out and this was an excellent reminder. Glad to find your post in a sea of many focused on other things instead of the most essential–our connection with God. Hope you don’t mind but I think I will be linking your site on my own in the near future!

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