From the time he was young, Gene Whitley had been surrounded by people who prayed in the Spirit in many different situations. As time went by, he became disillusioned and wary with the entire subject. Little did he realize back then, how much God would change his point of view.
When Gene was thirteen he attended a gathering in a relative’s home, his experience was unlike anything he’d ever witnessed before. Instead of perceiving the experience as being unbiblical and awkward, Gene describes it as one of the most beautiful events he’d ever witnessed. “I remember standing in awe as I watched the room erupt into expressions of praise and worship. Young minds and hearts meditating on the overwhelming truth of God’s Word. As they would grasp at the essence of Him, they’d burst out in an old spiritual song.” As Gene was standing there, something caught his attention. As he looked across the dimly moonlit room, he saw the silhouette of a girl standing in front of the window. She was looking towards Heaven singing softly with a voice unlike any in the room. Captivated, Gene realized she was singing in the Spirit. “It was an indescribably sweet and soothing sound,” Gene says. Out of all the different experiences he’d encountered, he never witnessed anyone singing in the Spirit. It was a beautiful act of worship that touched his heart in a way that he hadn’t thought possible. Perhaps there was more to praying in the Spirit than he had realized.
His experience that night impacted him in more than one way. It birthed an insurmountable desire within Gene to study the Truth of God’s Word with the intent to discover, for himself, why the body of Christ does certain things. He would finally know what is actually Biblical and what is not. Gene learned something about himself that night. Although he would engage in worship, he struggled to let himself enter into unbridled worship. He found himself always thinking, ‘If I do this I want my expression to be real, and not do it because everyone else is doing it!’
Gene now realizes that back then, God was developing a willingness in him to stand for the Truth under any circumstance. Not only with praying in the Spirit, but also in other areas in his christian walk. Looking back on his life, Gene is amazed at how much God was working in and through him, preparing him for a future that he wasn’t aware of.
It’s been many years since the night God showed Gene a different side to praying in the Spirit. The Lord has since led him to Living Word. He’s now in a fellowship of believers who live out the Word in their everyday lives. Gene recommends getting under a balanced teaching on praying in the Spirit like Pastor Steve’s series “Taking The Weirdness Out Of Praying In Tongues.” Personally, as he came to better understand praying in the Spirit, he learned to let his guard down. One morning, after serving on the worship team, Gene found himself letting go. He began praying in the Spirit while the worship team prayed before a service. It came so naturally that it, at first, caught Gene by surprise. The Enemy instantly took a hold of Gene’s thoughts, to convince Gene that it was unauthentic. He realized those thoughts were not coming from him, and cast them aside. He pushed through and continued praying in the Spirit, he loved how good and natural it felt. In Gene’s own words, “From that moment on, I knew I could never return to the place I came from. I used to view God’s gift of tongues like: It’s just not for me!”