My Prayer Language
Time: 11:55 PM, April 15, 1974… That’s when I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, with no any idea in the least what was happening.
I’d never even heard of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, but whatever it was, it was exhilarating. Exciting. Terrifying. Challenging!
Somehow I knew it was the answer to my short prayer at bedtime — “Lord, help me.”
(see https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/testimony-adventures-with-the-holy-spirit-part-i/) But I didn’t realize that among everything else that was happening, I was receiving a precious gift, a language with which my spirit could communicate directly with Father God.
It was the middle of the night! The house was quiet, my husband was sound asleep in the bed beside me, and I was hearing the most beautiful chorus singing songs of worship and adulation to the Father, inside my head. It didn’t occur to me that it was my own spirit; or that I could sing those lovely words out loud.
Years earlier I had taken voice lessons to help overcome a sore, scratchy throat that developed nearly every afternoon, following a day of teaching many Bible college classes. My vocal instructor gave me a book of familiar classic opera solos and sang along with me as we practiced them.
None were written in English; they were in Latin, French or Italian. All composed in a much higher pitch than my usual speaking voice, it soon became obvious that I wasn’t actually an alto, as I’d always thought. (And always sung, throughout six years of chorus and chorale in high school!) I was a soprano, singing those high register notes without a problem.
I was thrilled! Pretty soon the scratchiness at the end of a day was a thing of the past. I still have that book somewhere; it brings back many sweet memories of the teacher and our times singing together. Ave Maria. Un Bel Di. Jerusalem, the Lament of Christ. Such sweet songs in sweet languages I’d never learned, although I read the English translation printed beneath the foreign phrases so I could make sense of the pieces.
All that is to say, the beautiful melodies I was now hearing in my mind weren’t any of those languages. Not Greek or Hebrew, either, as I had gotten familiar with those while studying the Bible. So what was it?
I didn’t know, but that musical concert was so peaceful, even regenerating. I didn’t attempt to sing along; how could I? I didn’t know that language. Thankful for this special gift I just listened and enjoyed it.
A few weeks later I began reading Dennis Bennett’s book, The Holy Spirit and You, and came across a thought-provoking chapter about speaking in tongues, and praying in the spirit. I began thinking more about the lovely music I was hearing. Was that actually my own spirit singing? If it was, could I sing those words out loud?
I decided to find out one afternoon while preparing supper for my family. All alone in the house there was no-one to make fun, or criticize, or have to explain it to. Standing over my kitchen range, I began to sing out loud, not understanding the language but finding the words coming easily.
Whole phrases, sentences, and paragraphs came in an orderly fashion! It was amazing! I felt like I was singing a brand-new aria I’d never heard before.
Well, that was 1974. Continuing to study about the work of the Holy Spirit, I learned that this spiritual language — singing in the spirit — has two purposes.
- One is to offer thanksgiving, praise and worship from my heart to Father God.
- The other is to speak out a prayer God himself inspires, allowing him to perform something on earth that he wants to do: his will.
These expressions quickly became an integral part of who I am in the Lord. I still sing in the spirit (especially in groups of spirit-filled believers worshiping our Lord together), and I pray in the spirit as well as in English.
Sometimes I advise a friend with a thorny problem to solve to pray in tongues, i.e. in the spirit, whenever not praying or speaking in English. I believe the solution will come faster than it would have otherwise. That has certainly been the case in my own life over these years.
Here’s something else I’ve learned over the years: Not everyone receives a full-blown language to begin with. Sometimes they only receive a few words and because of that, they don’t truly believe they were given a spiritual language.
But if they speak the words they do have, more will come. It’s like a young child learning our complicated English language, their vocabulary starts out small but over time it grows, and grows.
(Here’s a helpful article about the difference between this and the gift of tongues for public meetings: https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2018/08/07/tongues-prayer-language-vs-public-gift/)