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praying in tongues, praying in the Spirit, Holy Spirit prayer, travail

“Please pray!” came the quick whisper through the phone, a note of desperation in it. “Pray in the Spirit, would you? And I’ll be praying here.”

A friend of mine is staff for a political representative. I was just wrapping up morning devotions with my children when she called to tell me that the meet-and-greet the rep was hosting had been overwhelmed by constituents from the opposing party, and that they’d come loaded for bear.

“We will pray,” I promised. As I hung up with her, I briefly explained to my kids that someone we knew needed immediate prayer. “She asked me specifically to pray in tongues,” I told them as we sat around the table. “You pray however you choose. But we’re all going to pray right now.”

As I prayed in the Spirit, my oldest prayed that the people who’d come to bother the representative would leave there being his friend. This reminded me of the scripture, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He causes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7). I jotted down the specific prayers we were led to pray and after we’d finished, sent them to my friend.

A short time later, I received the following text message from her:

“I just wanted to give you a quick update. Thank you so much for praying. There were 20 people there and at least 17 of them were opposition. The tension was thick for the first 30 minutes. But right around the time I called you and you started praying and I started praying, there was a shift in the atmosphere. [The representative] later told me he definitely felt it about halfway through, so that’s a confirmation.

The cool part is, that at the very end, they all applauded him. Who would have thought?! We’ve also gotten about four emails back with constituents saying how much they appreciated the lively discussion. A few people even told him thank you, and that although they were registered as the other party, they planned to vote for him. One guy came up and told me how much he appreciates [the rep] doing this. So thank you again for praying.”

Later, a text came in from an unknown number. It was the state rep himself, thanking me and my children for our prayers. “I could feel the moment the atmosphere in the room changed,” he wrote.

“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).

I have found praying in the Spirit to be an indispensable weapon in my spiritual arsenal. Many of the situations I’m praying into are too complicated or too massive even to know where to begin. Moreover, they are so riddled with personal emotion that it can be difficult to pray righteously and effectively.

The more I am willing to ask for the Holy Spirit to guide my prayers, the more understanding dawns. Like a picture coming into focus out of a nebulous gray, He gives insights into His strategies to fell the giants.

If you already pray in the Spirit, I hope this encourages you. If the concept is new or foreign to you, the Lord wants to give you this personal prayer language just as He did systematically through the early church. Below are linked some great resources:


The Power of Your Prayer Language by Lee Ann Rubsam

Sermon: the power of praying in tongues by Jake Kail

Emily Tomko
Emily Tomko
Emily writes with fierce compassion and a deep desire to see people freed from the miry clay of this world and walking in the truth. Emily is available to minister at women’s retreats and youth functions, college fellowships, and business women meetings.


  1. Love this story, Emily! It spurs me on even more to believe great things happen while I pray in the spirit. ~ Lee Ann

    • Emily Tomko says:

      I’m glad it encourages you, Lee Ann! I hope people reading this check out your teaching on praying in the Spirit that I linked. Even in circles where this gift is “acceptable,” the teaching seems sparse, lending to much confusion. This, we know, is not by accident.

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