A Sidekick's Blog

ExCharisma: Praying in the Spirit | April 6, 2014

Today I heard what is probably the best sermon of my life on the subject of praying in the Spirit. It turns out that genuine Spirit-initiated, Spirit-ignited, Spirit led, effectual prayer in the Spirit is much harder and far more effort than “turning my mind off” and letting the Spirit “pray through me” in a language I never learned. I’m very well acquainted with the Charismatic meaning and practice of “praying in the Spirit.” For over 20 years I did it throughout the day, believing that my prayers were knocking down enemy strongholds, binding evil spirits, and lending strength to angels battling in the heavenlies. It was “perfect” prayer, immune from interference from the devil tossing bad thoughts into my mind to mess up my prayers. Bypassing the mind made it invulnerable to such attack, and because it was the Spirit praying through me, it was perfect in every way.

But praying in tongues was an easy substitute for “putting to death the deeds of the body (Romans 8:13)” and being led by the Spirit (verse 14), subject to His infallibly inspired word. How easily I separated the Spirit from the written Word which He inspired! But to truly walk by the Spirit and pray in the Spirit, one must pray according to the bible!

In my new church, I’m told, there are others like me. Coming from the confusion and misleading teachings of the Charismatic movement or Pentecostalism. It truly is remarkable that so many of us, truly seeking God and digging through His unchanging word, have found our way back to the Reformation! My years in the Charismatic movement and my journey out of its superstition, manipulation, empty promises and pretense led me to seek out other who were fed up and making the same journey as I was: Back to basics, back to the bible, putting down deep roots in the solid ground of His unchanging word instead of the incessantly shifting, windblown sand and rubble of Pentecostalism. I called our little group ExCharisma. And it quickly grew over the next couple of years, from a dozen or so of us “questioning Charismatics,” into an international community of hundreds. Almost without exception, those who shared my journey ended up in the same place that I have: The Reformation! Let me tell you why I think that is so remarkable:

In the years prior to the Reformation, the gospel had been almost entirely lost to the ordinary churchgoer. Obscured behind superstition, corruption, ritual and rite, and in the absence of the bible in print for “the common man,” the gospel virtually disappeared but for some unknown (to us) remnant.

Never had there been a greater need for the recovery of the gospel to the Church, and God in His mercy finally did so, through Martin Luther and several others, 500 years ago. When the gospel was clearly preached, the true Church flourished and changed the whole world – just as much as it had done in the First Century! Fast-forward 500 years and what do we find? Again, the gospel in obscurity, barely peeking out from behind the megaministries preaching a gospel of greed (the “prosperity gospel”), self-proclaimed “prophets” who still preach even after their predictions prove completely false – anyone remember when “the greatest prophet since Elijah,” Paul Cain, predicted that as president, Bill Clinton would lead America to the greatest spiritual revival in it’s history? Ooops. And yet those Kansas City “prophets” are still out there making millions of dollars in books, tapes, and other snake-oil sales. As it was in the days before the Reformation, so it is today. Corruption, superstition, greed, and as before a lack of interest and discipline in the study of the bible, have so obscured and covered the simple truth of salvation in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, to the glory of God alone, that we find ourselves in need of a second Reformation! Or, to be more accurate, a recovery of the earlier Reformation. A recovery of “the faith once delivered to the saints.”

Inspired by that and by the fact that my pastor has told me how I could really help other members of my church who are taking that journey out of “Charismania,” as I have come to call it, back to the Reformation – back to the Gospel, I will publish a few articles from the archives of ExCharisma here in the next few days. The first will take on the subject of the gift of tongues, so central to the Charismatic experience. If you can’t wait, you can catch a preview of it by clicking here.



  1. Like how you’ve made the post a little more eye catching. Also looking forward to more of the Ex Charisma stuff being posted here. Keep up the good work.

    Comment by keachfan — April 8, 2014 @ 2:04 am

  2. Yes, you need to have a short memory in the charismatic movement, otherwise you remember all the false prophecies and failed initiatives that have come and gone over the years. I would agree that another reformation is needed, although I would add that cessationists also need to put their house in order (to a lesser extent).

    Comment by Ian — June 18, 2014 @ 3:17 pm

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