Symphony in Prayer (1 Corinthians 14:13-19)

Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?” (1 Corinthians 14:13–16, KJV)

I believe in corporate prayer meetings. The is much power as believers join together in prayer. Jesus said it, “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19, KJV) There is a special power that comes in prayer when believers join in agreement in prayer. However, this is where many corporate prayer meetings fail. What I am saying is that there is a lack of understanding of this point and there is no agreement in prayer. These prayer meetings can become like a symphony orchestra where every musician is playing off a different sheet of music, sounding like confusing and annoying noise. I have joined in prayer meetings that were like this where people were praying, but there was not harmony.

In this section, Paul wrote that if someone were to speak in a tongue, that that person should pray to be able to interpret what he is speaking. This is literally what the verse states. Yet, in the context with the rest of the passage, we see that this is in context with corporate prayer. There are two factors that Paul presented here.

First, Paul indicated that if he prayed in an unknown language, that even his understanding was unfruitful. In other words, if he did not even understand what he was praying it was not fruit bearing.

Secondly, in connection with this, it did not benefit anyone else. The corporate assembly would just be in a posture of prayer without any ability to agree. Paul stated, that if he prayed in an unknown language, “how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?” How might people join in heart with something they do not understand? They cannot.

Paul explained that he would pray what was on his heart, but would seek to pray with perfect understanding so that his prayer would be fruitful. In doing so, he would pray with understanding. It is interesting that he goes on to give a beautiful picture of what will happen with understandable prayer in this context. He wrote, “I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” The word translated “sing,” psallo, has the ideal of playing the strings of a musical instrument (Strong G5567). Paul indicated that praying from the heart with understanding is like making beautiful and harmonious music that will edify everyone.

When we pray, seek to pray from the heart with a clear understanding. When we pray like this in corporate assembly, everyone can participate. Everyone can be part of a symphony of prayer.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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