Spirit vs Soul, Part 1

I have noticed that very few people talk about the different parts of ourselves that are unseen. Most people acknowledge that there are at least 2 parts of us – the part everyone can see on the outside (our body) and the hidden part inside of us (our inner being). But I have discovered that our inner being is comprised of at least 2 parts, which I refer to as Spirit and Soul. In reading what others have to say, I’ve noticed there is no universal language to describe it – each author uses different words (which adds to the confusion, I’m sure). Rather than try to pick words that fit all the different expressions of this reality, I’m going to stick to the words I’m familiar with from the Bible. It helps to give me a foundation from which to build. It also connects to the ancient traditions of the Christian faith, which I value. I’m going to try to express what I have seen, heard and experienced in my own life and in those I have helped. It has made a HUGE difference in my life.

I discovered a doorway to peace and joy and love that I never knew existed.

Spirit vs Soul

You are a spirit and you have a soul (Hebrews 4:12, I Thessalonians 5:23). Your spirit carries your spiritual DNA – that’s part of your identity. Your spiritual DNA is the way God made you for His specific purposes to be fulfilled in your life time. When you become a follower of Jesus, your spirit becomes one with His Spirit (I Corinthians 6:17).

Your soul carries your natural identity – who you are on the earth. This would include your personality, your likes and dislikes about natural things (i.e. I love chocolate). Most of our daily lives revolve around the soul. This is what feels most comfortable to us – it comes naturally.

Some people define the soul as containing the mind, the will and the emotions. I’m not sure it’s that simple because we also carry “the mind of Christ” in our spirit (I Corinthians 2:16). Our spirit has intelligence, creativity and intuition. It also seems to be the seat of our conscience (our sense of right and wrong). You could say the soul contains YOUR mind, will and emotions whereas your spirit carries the mind, will and emotions of the Holy Spirit (if you are one with Him).

Your spirit and your soul were each created with their own purpose. They are not the same. Your soul was created to do certain things. Your spirit was created to do certain other things. They are both valid. They are both very important. Sometimes what causes us to struggle is when we try to get our soul to do what our spirit was created to do and vice versa. It causes confusion for us – especially when we don’t get the results we were expecting! This has happened to me many times. Once I learned the difference between the two and how to switch between then, I got much better results. As I have shared this with others, they have told me what a game changer it is! So that’s why I’m trying to share it here.

If you let your spirit lead your life, you experience the fruit of the Holy Spirit every day – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). You experience this wonderful fruit in all your relationships, both at home and at work or school. You experience the abundant life that Jesus promised (John 10:10).

If you lead your life by your soul, you may feel anxious, uptight, or unsure of what you’re doing. You worry about what people are thinking about you. You worry about the future; you dwell on the past. It’s easy to get “stuck” in your soul. This is perfectly natural. Most mental health issues are in the soul. That’s where we primarily need healing in order to be happy and healthy.

In order to move from living by your soul to being led by your spirit, there is a process that can help you. I learned this from Arthur Burk in his series, Nurturing Your Spirit. I will summarize the main ideas that helped me. Some of this is my own insights and some of this is from his series. Arthur tells people when he teaches, “Look – here are my ideas about this topic. You take it and run with it!” So that’s what I’m doing.  🙂

Your spirit is a very real part of you. If you have ignored it for most of your life (like we all have done), it will take a while to make the change. First, you have to become aware of your spirit through daily practice. What you want to do is

a) Become aware of your spirit

b) Acknowledge your spirit’s place

c) Strengthen your spirit

d) Let your spirit lead

Become aware of your spirit

The first step is to become aware of your spirit and to begin to connect with it. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you how to recognize your spirit. Close your eyes and take a few slow deep breaths. Focus on the way the air feels as it flows through your chest. Imagine your spirit filling you on the inside just like your breath fills you. Stay with the feeling for a few minutes. Focus on your breath and just “be”.

It takes a lot of practice to become aware of your spirit. I recommend that you take a minute and do this breathing exercise every day. You can do it when you first wake up, or when you are waiting at stop light in traffic or anytime you remember to do it. The point is to practice and pay attention until it becomes easy for you to recognize your spirit.

Acknowledge your spirit’s place

As you begin to connect with your spirit, you will recognize what value it has. God created it for a very specific purpose. He will show you that purpose, to encourage you and strengthen you. Acknowledge to yourself that your spirit has a right to be expressed. That there is something special inside of you that deserves to be known to the outside world.

Each day ask God’s Spirit to come and fill your spirit and wash it. Take a few deep breaths and see if you feel anything. Sometimes it feels like you are standing in a rain shower. Sometimes it may feel like a soft blanket of peace or love. Sometimes you don’t feel anything, but it is still happening. God promises to give His Spirit to anyone who asks.

God’s Spirit is the provider of all the resources you need to fulfill your destiny. When you invite Him to come and fill you, He begins to direct your day and lead your steps (and you notice it). At first, it may seem surprising. After a while, it becomes very comforting.

I’m going to stop there for today. This is a lot to take in when you first read it. Ponder this concept of being a three part being – body, soul and spirit. Practice the breathing exercise and see if you can recognize your spirit. What does it feel like to you? How would you describe it? Spend some time each day paying attention to it and begin to acknowledge your spirit and its value.

If you have some insight you’d like to share, please feel free to comment below. I will continue this topic in the next post.

Spirit vs Soul, Surprising Power in Prayer

Did you know there’s a difference between praying from your spirit versus praying from your soul?

I’ve seen this time and time again – especially in prayer meetings where various people pray. I can immediately tell from the frequency in someone’s voice (their tone, passion, etc.) whether they are praying from their spirit or their soul.

So what’s the difference? And does it change the results?

When we pray from our souls, we tend to connect with our emotions. We focus on the problem and we pray the problem out loud. When someone prays from their soul they often focus on the pain of the problem and it can make them cry or speak very passionately. There’s nothing wrong with that. It is one way of praying. It may make us feel better or sometimes it makes us feel worse (more emotionally upset). Here’s an example,

“Lord, you know what is happening with our young people. They are doing drugs, they are not listening to their parents, they are going after the world. Oh, Lord, you know this breaks our hearts. It is not right. We need you to intervene and change their hearts. They are headed down a very dark path that leads to destruction. We don’t want that to happen. We don’t want them to die young from a drug overdose or from violence in the streets. Oh Lord, please help us! Please help our young people turn to you!”

When we pray from our spirits, we are listening to the Holy Spirit and waiting to hear from the Spirit what we should say. We are not focused on the problem, we are focused on what the Spirit is saying. I often hear spiritual authority in someone’s voice when they pray from their spirit instead of from their soul. When someone prays from their soul, they are using their emotional energy to convey the importance of their request – by getting more passionate about it, they feel they are connecting more with God. When someone prays from their spirit, they are using the energy of spiritual authority and that has a completely different effect. Here’s an example,

“Thank you, Lord, that you are taking care of our young people. We see that some are not honoring you, but we know that you are already working in their hearts to dismantle their love of the world. Thank you that you have dispatched angels tonight to fight on their behalf against the darkness. We specifically release an increased awareness of Your presence and Your goodness in the lives of Sammy, Tom, Junior and Olivia. We expect to see the outworking of Your grace in their choices soon. Thank you so much for your love and kindness that you care about them and their future. You are a good, good Father!”

Often a prayer from the Spirit becomes more and more specific. Instead of just praying for “young people” in general, the Spirit will bring specific young people to mind and how to pray for them personally. God is a personal God – He knows each of us by name and can give us very specific insight into how to pray for those we care about. Or He may reveal a specific strategy He is using to reach a large group of people. Either way, it becomes more and more specific the longer we listen and pray what He is saying.

Listen in prayer to God

When we pray from our spirits, we are not trying to move God by our tears or our passion. We are simply agreeing with what HE is already doing and we are partnering with His purposes on the earth. How do you know what He is already doing? By listening to the Holy Spirit as you pray – He will tell you what to say and how to say it. I’m not kidding – it really works that way! Then, guess what? Those prayers tend to get answered more quickly and effectively! Why? Because you were praying according to His will, not according to yours.

John said it like this, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” I John 5:14-15

I LOVE to be in a prayer meeting where each person is listening to the Holy Spirit and only praying what they hear the Lord saying. There’s such freedom and power! It is incredibly encouraging as the Lord reveals His plans for the problems we see. By the end of the prayer time, we are so filled with joy and anticipation of what God is going to do!!

I don’t enjoy as much the prayer meetings I have been in when people are praying from their souls. It can be moving to hear how much they care about an issue, but often it begins to feel almost like charismatic witchcraft – trying to get God to do what YOU want Him to do. It’s actually quite painful at times as you sense the lack of faith in God’s goodness – when you “pray the problem”, it tends to grow in your mind and weigh you down even more. Yuk!

If you need help learning how to listen to the Holy Spirit, I created a short course to help with that. It only takes a few minutes to go through the material and then practice – I recommend 15 minutes each week for 4 weeks. The more you practice, the easier it gets! The course is called Developing A Close Relationship with God: A Simple MethodYou can click on the course icon below to find out more information. You will enjoy it! 🙂

So how about you? Do you know the difference between when you are praying in your soul versus when you are praying in your spirit? Can you shift between them when you want to? Do you know how to listen to the Holy Spirit when you are praying? Comment below! Share your experience – I shared mine. We learn from each other that way. ❤