Practical Communion with the Holy Spirit

Practical communion

Sunday 09/29/19

Series: Walking the Talk

Message – Practical Communion with the Holy Spirit


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Enjoying practical communion with the Holy Spirit

Many times the correlation between the message and the worship is not humanly orchestrated but today it was – at least in part, by the song ‘Speechless’ – It was fully intended, because today we are talking about enjoying practical communion (koinonia) with the Holy Spirit and Paul talks about something – not withheld from ANY believer – which immediately places us into a joint and shared experience with the Holy Spirit of God and that is Praying in the Holy Spirit.

Paul describes praying in the Spirit as something which fills our mouths when our minds can no longer find adequate words to say. In the words of the song (from Steven Curtis Chapman – title cut from his album Speechless). 

“I am speechless, I’m astonished and amazed. I am silenced by Your wondrous grace, You have saved me and raised me from the grave. And I am speechless in Your presence now. I’m astounded as I consider how You have shown us a love that leaves us speechless.”

Now, what could I possibly mean by joint and shared experience with the Holy Spirit? Well, it is the same as if we were discussing a human relationship.

A jointly shared experience is one in which both parties are:

  • fully present
  • fully involved
  • fully invested.

It is an activity in which both co-participate. Human examples abound…

  • Marriage
  • Team Sports
  • Business partnerships
  • Games
  • Study groups
  • Barn raising
  • Surgery
  • Manufacturing

…and the list goes on and on. 

Of course some of these examples can be done alone, many actually require a partner.

Our relationship with the Holy Spirit is just such a relationship.

Everything Jesus ever did in ministry He did IN PARTNERSHIP WITH the HOLY SPIRIT.

For us, as believers, we participate with the Holy Spirit in all of the following IF we are going to fully please the Father…

  • Studying the Word
  • Sharing the Gospel
  • Encouraging others in Christ
  • Our relationships – especially marriage and church
  • Work
  • Ministry work
  • Giving
  • and Prayer

…and it is this last one we are going to look at today.

Let’s Turn to 1 Cor. 14

Now we spent a fair amount of time in this passage in the past and most recently in a message I taught on February of last year called, Gifts, Motives & How tos.

In it I drew detailed attention to the differences Paul makes between Speaking in tongues and Praying in Tongues. They are NOT the same thing! Furthermore, the event that took place on the day of Pentecost, though not entirely unique, was neither of these in the strictest definitions of the words. 

Here in his letter to the Corinthians Paul does is fact clarify the difference but he was speaking Greek… many translations into English do not make it as easy to pick up on sometimes. 

In the message I just referenced from last year, I clarify the difference for you, so if you do not remember what you were taught, you can always go back and refresh your memory so I do not need to teach THAT lesson AND this one. 

But can you see why it is important to STUDY the things I’ve taught you so that you KNOW them well!!!!?????

For now suffice it to say that in English, people who know the difference between the Gift of Tongues which only some have and praying in tongues which EVERY believe can do is distinguished by the words “the Gift of Tongues” and a believer’s prayer language which is called “speaking or Praying in tongues”. 

The former is always in and to the church and ALWAYS comes with interpretation if it is real.

The later is TO GOD and comes with NO PROMISE of an interpretation because it is NOT being spoken TO the church…it is being PRAYED to God Who already knows the interpretation.

So with that brief lesson under our belts, let’s read 1 Cor. 14:2-5, 12-30, I’m currently using the Weymouth translation and I do so because he distinguished pretty clearly between the two for us.

1Cor. 14:2-5 & 12-20,  “(2) For he who speaks in an unknown tongue is not speaking to men, but to God; [OK, pretty clear… This is prayer NOT the ghost of] for no one understands him. Yet in the Spirit he is speaking secret truths.  (3) But he who prophesies speaks to men words of edification, encouragement and comfort.  (4) He who speaks in an unknown tongue does good to himself, but he who prophesies does good to the Church.  (5) I should be right glad were you all to speak in ‘tongues,’ but yet more glad were you all to prophesy. And, in fact, the man who prophesies is superior to him who speaks in ‘tongues,’ except when the latter can interpret in order that the Church may get a blessing.

(12)  Therefore, seeing that you are ambitious for spiritual gifts, seek to excel in them so as to benefit the Church.  (13)  Therefore let a man who has the gift of tongues pray for the power of interpreting them.  (14) For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is barren.  

(15)  How then does the matter stand? I will pray in spirit, and I will pray with my understanding also. I will praise God in spirit, and I will praise Him with my understanding also.  

(16)  Otherwise, if you bless God in spirit only, how shall he who is in the position of an ungifted man say the ‘Amen’ to your giving of thanks, when he does not know what your words mean?  (17) Rightly enough you are giving thanks, and yet your neighbor is not benefited.  

(18)  I speak in a tongue, thank God, more than all of you;  (19) but in the Church I would rather speak five words with my understanding–so as to instruct others also–than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.  

(20)  Brethren, do not prove yourselves to be children in your minds. As regards evil, indeed, be utter babes, but as regards your minds prove yourselves to be men of ripe years.”

Now… Notice that in verse 2 Paul very clearly states that praying in tongues is to speak TO GOD and in verse 4 that it edifies you as the one speaking… whereas the gift of tongues speaks TO THE CHURCH and builds THEM up! 

Notice that the one universal in regard to tongues is that it builds up or edifies!

This indirectly tells us some things, which are VERY important about Koinonia.


Talking to and with God is spiritually healthy – it BUILDS you up!!! 

In fact, one could turn the phrase above around and declare with certainty that speaking with God is a sign of increasing spiritual health.

Praying in the spirit IS koinonia because it is NOT just you praying, you NEED the intervention and help of the Holy Spirit. 

The Amplified version helps us here by translating not just the words but the thoughts conveyed BY the words and it does so very well. Let’s look at 


verse 14 in the Amplified – It says – “when I pray in tongues, my spirit by the Holy Spirit prays or offers praise.”

So this supernatural ability allows you – the REAL you – the spirit man -, to pray directly to God bypassing your intellect – which is the part of you which still sometimes agrees with and co-participates with your flesh in sin.

Remember what Paul said in Romans 8:5-6“Those who think on the things of the flesh will live according to the flesh and those who think on the things of the Spirit will live after the spirit.”

So, while many in mainstream Evangelical denominations ask the question – “Why would I want to bypass my mind while praying?” Paul offers the answer. Not only in that verse in Romans 8:5, but also later in the same chapter. Paul tells us in verse 26, “For we do not know what we should pray for, nor how to offer that prayer in a worthy manner as we MUST, but the Holy Spirit comes to our aid….”. I personally like the Wuest translation here because it emphasizes the failings of our mind and the need and reality of help offered by the Holy Spirit in our praying, though it is a bit wordy – it is helpful AND he was a fundamentalist, evangelical Baptist… so there goes their excuse.

Rom. 8:26-27, “And in like manner also the Spirit lends us a helping hand with reference to our weakness, for the particular thing that we should pray for according to what is necessary in the nature of the case, we do not know with an absolute knowledge; but the Spirit himself comes to our rescue by interceding with unutterable groanings. Moreover, He who is constantly searching our hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because, according to God, He continually makes intercession on behalf of the saints.”


So Praying in the Spirit is NOT about fleshy reliance upon our weak intellects. In fact, the passage we are looking at in 1 Cor. 14 goes on to tell us that when we pray in tongues we pray Mysteries

This is VERY helpful, because “How & What” are VERY important if you want your prayers to be effective. You might be thinking – “I thought God hears every prayer” – well technically He does in that He knows our thoughts and words before we speak them, but there are prayers which are effective and prayers that are NOT effective. There are prayers which are partially effective and prayers that are VERY effective. There are even things we should NOT pray about.

Turn with me to…

  • James 5:16,

“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

  • 1Jn. 5:14-15, 

“(14) Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  (15) And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

  • 1Jn. 5:16, 

“If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.” 

So NOT having the mind directly involved is a GOOD thing. Praying in the spirit does not come FROM the intellect nor is the intellect even affected. 

This also answers a long debated question about with a man is a two part or three part being. [tri-part-ite or a bi-part-ite] Meaning man is made up of body – soul AND Spirit as very distinct and separate parts, all working as a unified whole. 

So when we pray in the Spirit, OUR SPIRIT is praying, but it does so by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. We do not have the power to speak directly from our spirit, but the Holy Spirit makes that possible.

This is a VERY intimate experience which if realized for what it is can greatly enhance your sensitivity to the working of the Holy Spirit in other areas as well.

Remember we read in 1Corinthians chapter 2 that no one knows the things of God except the spirit of God and that the spirit of God searches the Deep things of God and reveals them to us. This process is reversed when praying in the spirit. The Holy Spirit searches the heart of man and speaks to God but he does so in accordance with God’s will because we do not know what to pray nor how to pray in a worthy manner that is our weakness and the Holy Spirit is our strength. 

Remember this passage in Prov. 20:27, 

“The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord Illuminating the inward parts of the heart.”

This is a very intimate experience… think about it! 

People who pray together often, reveal parts of themselves in the process and over time you can get to know someone very well. This is why many wise ministries will not allow pastors to pray with those they counsel – especially from the opposite sex, without others present. You would be aghast at how many affairs have sprung out of times of intimacy before God in prayer in counseling sessions. It connects people in a very vulnerable way.

Well, this is no less true when your prayer partner is the Holy Spirit of God.

Theophan the recluse described prayer as, Descending with the mind into the heart, and there to stand before the face of the Lord, ever present, all-seeing, within you.”

Now admittedly this is different because your mind is NOT edified and in fact is left in the dark, but if scripture can be trusted – it edifies and Paul not only prayed in the Spirit more than the entire Corinthian church, but wished they did as well!

Also, as you know, I am not an advocate of turning off and disregarding our mind and only trying to pursue God in the spirit. Not because such an endeavor would be bad if it were possible but the truth of the matter is the only place where we can know anything about anything is in our mind. It is the faculty God has given us to intellectually discern and understand and fully grasp any aspect of life. But as I said, praying in the Spirit is NOT about edifying your mind – it is about edifying YOU!

Consider also, what Jude tells us. He says that this “Praying in the Spirit” keeps us in the love of God, which is the fertile ground of those who bear the fruit of the spirit.

From the Weymouth,

Jude 1:20-21, “But you, my dearly-loved friends, building yourselves up on the basis of your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,  (21) must keep yourselves safe in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ which will result in the Life of the Ages.”

And again it think the Wuest translation helps us,

Jude 1:20-21, “But, as for you, divinely loved ones, building yourselves up constantly in the sphere of and by means of your most holy Faith, and as constantly praying in the sphere of and by means of the Holy Spirit, with watchful care keep yourselves within the sphere of God’s love, expectantly looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ resulting in life eternal.”

Notice that edifying ourselves in our faith AND praying in the spirit both keep us in the love of God.

Praying in the Spirit is a tremendous gift and tool given to us by God to 

  • pray God’s perfect will without even knowing what it is. 
  • It sensitizes our hearts to co-partnership with the Holy Spirit AND keeps us in the love of God!

Would I really need any other motivations to encourage you to do this more often?

As I said in our most recent Sunday message, Praying in the Spirit is something many of us have grown to do more as a tool than a co-partnership with the Holy Spirit. 

In fact, many of you may pray in the Spirit without ever even acknowledging His presence or help.


I am sure you can all think of activities between friends or lovers which SHOULD be an intimate experience which we have, over time, reduced to a mundane experience that is neither jointly shared nor deeply intimate. 

As I said at the beginning of our lesson today, a jointly shared experience is one in which both parties are:

  • fully present
  • fully involved
  • fully invested.

Two old friends can meet for lunch and yet, walk way having never really connected at all. A married couple can go out to dinner and have a moonlit walk on the beach and yet be miles away from each other in their hearts.

So it can be with the Holy Spirit. Like the quote I recently gave you from Simon Tugwell in Prayer

“…very often we are not looking for God; far from it, we are in full flight from Him…”

Our over familiarity with the activity of Praying in the Spirit can take an experience like clasping hands with the third part of the Trinity and pouring out your spirit to the Father in joint prayer and make it an activity which is no longer moving, intimate and sensitizing – in fact it can become quite droll. I would suggest to you that it isn’t our partner that’s the problem…it’s our heart. How do we approach it?

Worship is often the same way. New believers often get swept up in worship, loving on God and expressing their hearts to Him in honest and simple abandonment…add 10 years to their walk and instead of it being many times more edifying, it has become something you can participate in while rummaging through your purse or glancing down the blouse of the young lady who just bent over to rummage through her purse. Something that you could never have done when your heart was sensitive you can now do without even feeling a thing. 

Now I have deliberately been focusing on PRAYING in the Spirit, but worship and praise is also something you can do in the Spirit, as Paul said in our beginning verses, “(15) How then does the matter stand? I will pray in spirit, and I will pray with my understanding also. I will praise God in spirit, and I will praise Him with my understanding also.”

Now praising and worshiping in the Spirit will most likely take the form of tongues, only you will not be praying TO God, you will be worshiping Him.

How can you choose which you are doing you might ask.

Good question. Paul gives us a key, which was pointed out to me by my mother a great number of years ago and I will share it with you now. In fact it is found in the very next verse in 1Cor. 14, Paul says

1Cor. 14:16-17, “(16) Otherwise, if you bless your food in the spirit, how will the uninformed person say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying?  (17) For you indeed give thanks well, but the other person is not being built up.”

So how would one pray over their food, in tongues? By that being your intention when you begin to pray. 

It works just like every other function God has built into your being. Do you have to focus deeply and work some form of magic to get your hand to scratch your nose when it itches? No! It is instinctive. You feel the itch and you almost find yourself scratching with your hand a moment later. It is what you intended to do. 

So it is with praying in the spirit, and so it is with praising or worshiping God in the spirit. 

BOTH of these are still YOU! Your spirit, BY THE HOLY SPIRIT is praying or praising.

There is also another experience I’d like to suggest to you which is also a joint experience and co-partnership (Koinonia) with the Holy Spirit which is NOT in tongues. 

In my own personal experience, I’ve had times of both prayer AND worship which were BY the Holy Spirit but were NOT in tongues. It was NOT MY SPIRIT doing the praying or praising, but the Holy Spirit expressing His heart through me. 

I will offer you a few examples.

  1. When I cried out “I need you to crave me
  2. When in prayer I found myself saying, “You are so beautiful” & “I deeply admire You

However, most of the time you will likely be doing this in tongues and THAT is what I want you focused upon this next week. 

Go spend time in intimate prayer and worship with your partner and friend the Holy Spirit!

So, that’s it really. I don’t feel the need to belabor this beyond the scope of this singular point. 



One way of increasing your awareness of the Spirit and sensitizing your heart to Him is by worshiping Him for all He has done and is in your life.

One of the best and most creative ways to do this is to think of all the ways you worship the Lord Jesus in connection with things He has done or Who He is or has been to you. 

For example, I will sometimes worship Jesus for being willing to come as a baby – to be born into a world filled with sin – to experience the human condition for and with us in order to provide redemption and a way back to the Father.

So, in relation to that event you can worship the Holy Spirit of God. Because you cannot have a baby in a manger without a Spirit hovering over a virgin. You cannot have a sinless life without an empowering agent. You cannot offer yourself up for the sins of the world but by the power of the Spirit and you cannot raise from the grave without the power of God. 

Do you see? 

God Bless!

I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.

We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!

If you do not know Him, please reach out to us. Give us a call at the number located on every page of this website or use our ‘Contact Us‘ page. We would be deeply honored, if you gave us the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Neither money nor attendance at our church will EVER be mentioned.

If you HAVE been spiritually fed by this ministry and WANT to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but please understand that all the outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been shepherding in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!