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.