The Gift of Tongues
One of the most controversial spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament is the gift of speaking in tongues. Although many people have rejected the idea that God speaks to and through us in this way, I’ve found that there is a great benefit to those who practice this gift. The language we speak when we operate in this gift allows us to communicate directly with God. The Holy Spirit enables us to speak a language (or several of them) without ever having to learn them.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania recorded scans of the brains of people while they spoke in tongues. The study was published in The New York Times. Dr. Andrew Newberg, who headed the study, concluded:
We noticed a number of changes that occurred functionally in the brain. Our finding of decreased activity in the frontal lobes during the practice of speaking in tongues is fascinating because these subjects truly believe that the spirit of God is moving through them and controlling them to speak… Our brain-imaging research shows us that these subjects are not in control of the usual language centers during this activity, which is consistent with their description of a lack of intentional control while speaking in tongues.
The gift of tongues is not only for a select few. Paul said that he wanted every believer to speak in tongues and prophesy:
“I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied” (1 Cor. 14:5)
The Bible says that those who speak in tongues are (generally) speaking directly to God:
“For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.” (1 Cor. 14:2)
One of the exceptions is when we speak in tongues to declare the wonders of God to others:
“We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:11)
Or when praising God:
“For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.” (Acts 10:46)
Those who are experienced with speaking in tongues report that their spirit is strengthened the more they pray in tongues. It also seems to open up a clearer channel of communication between them and God. The gift of speaking in tongues is the one gift given to edify (strengthen) the individual. The rest of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to strengthen the body of Christ:
“He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.” (1 Cor. 14:4)
When I pray with people for healing or deliverance, my wife often prays alongside me. I begin by praying in English as I’m led by the Spirit—most often through visions. She rarely prays in her native language, which is English, but prays as she is led by the Spirit in tongues. She’s become so accustomed to praying in tongues that today it’s easier for her to pray in tongues than it is to pray in English.
The gift of speaking in tongues is like any other gift. The more we exercise it, the more proficient we’ll become at it. If you desire to operate in the gift of tongues, pray for it and believe that you will receive it. Speaking in tongues is not something the Holy Spirit does to you. It is rather, a way that He operates through you as you speak or pray. The key is that you must initiate the process.
When I first began speaking in tongues, I heard in my mind words that were softly spoken in a language I had never heard before. As I’ve said in other chapters, one way in which you can know revelation is from God is when it sounds unlike anything you would normally think. The words I heard in my mind were completely foreign to me. I assumed they were the words the Holy Spirit wanted me to speak, so I said them to the best of my ability. The apostle Paul said that the main problem with speaking in tongues is that our natural mind doesn’t understand what we say:
“For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.” (1 Cor. 14:14)
There are times when it isn’t necessary to know what we are praying. Paul discussed this in the eighth chapter of Romans:
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Rom. 8:26-27)
Praying in tongues is a way in which the Spirit of God can inspire our prayer when we aren’t sure how we ought to pray. The Holy Spirit is our helper, our comforter, our intercessor, and faithful friend. Praying in tongues empowers us when we are weak, comforts us when we are sad, and through it, He intercedes for us according to His perfect will.
This is an excerpt from my book Hearing God’s Voice Made Simple. Click on the link or on the image below to check out the book.
My comment has been the more I pray in tongues, the more I pray in tongues 🙂 And within the last few weeks I have found myself singing in tongues, walking the farm and the 350 acres here, some days most of the day. I believe we bless our spiritual selves and God when we do both. I have heard in the past “you’re just making strange noises, you know.” From the defeated one and his minions. And now I am praying in tongues more than ever.
I too find myself praying in tongues more than my native language.
Good Article … but may I offer, I cannot agree with the part that says we must initiate it because away of an experience that took place in my own life. I am being reminded of when the Holy Spirit told me that I did not need to know what to pray… by yielding to this Gift of Praying in Tongues, HE would pray the PERFECT Prayer through me. Just after that, I was in a situation when a drunk was coming at me with ‘violence’ in their eyes and body language. Suddenly the Holy Spirit prayed through me in Tongues, it never occurred to me to do so in my conscious mind. The Abuser stopped in their tracks, laughed and walked. Their attitude the next time I saw them was completely different. Their heart was changed!
BUT then again, as far as initiating it goes. I did ask for the Gift of Tongues when I was first born of the Spirit because I was told it came as a Gift as evidence of the Holy Spirit within. I agree, the more one uses it the more the words are increased, and would like to offer a Testimony of how this came about in my life. “The gift of speaking in tongues is like any other gift. The more we exercise it, the more proficient we’ll become at it. If you desire to operate in the gift of tongues, pray for it and believe that you will receive it. Speaking in tongues is not something the Holy Spirit does to you. It is rather, a way that He operates through you as you speak or pray. The key is that you must initiate the process.”
Testimony continued in next comment:
Continued from above in two parts:
As one who has heard and received the Call of an Intercessor, when I pray in tongues, I listen for the interpretation and thus through seeking the mind of our Lord I am aware of what is being prayed. Such increases my faith with a knowing answered prayers are coming and I rest in that awareness.
In the beginning after I received the Gift of Prayer through praying (and later singing) in Tongues, my Gift of Tongues was limited. I assumed this was normal. After I heard and received the Call of an Intercessor, I was led to a Service that was led by others who had surrendered to their Call as Intercessors. They were Intercessors for a well-known Ministry at that time (1982). They spoke of the Scripture that tells us of the need to lay an ax to the ROOT of every ungodly Tree. They said that often the Holy Spirit would come upon us with the Spirit of Travail when there is a need to pray such. When we surrender to this Gift of Travail, the Holy Spirit will pray through us in Tongues until such is accomplished. Then they told those us who had a limited Tongue, for us to stay before the Lord until we got a breakthrough. From that moment on, as a ‘body’ of Called Intercessors through Christ within, they gave us each the opportunity to do so, by waiting on the Lord while yielding to the Gift of Tongues. As I knelt there with everyone, in the beginning it seems as though nothing more was ever going to come than the few sentences I currently prayed. Even so, I determined in my heart that I was not going to stop seeking the Holy Spirit for more words at that time, until those leading us stopped and or closed the meeting.
Continued from above (as there is only so many words each post allows):
Gradually I heard those around me begin to stop praying in Tongues and was aware they were returning to their seats. Even so, I kept praying with the few sentences I already had sensing the Holy Spirit wanted to pray for me to receive more. Suddenly my tongues changed to many different languages and many different tones, some words were fast, some were slow, some high, some low and some came as a song. (The only time I have a can carry a tune without music is when the Holy Spirit comes over me with a Song in Tongues. I will never forget that day… your Article David Joseph reminded me of this happy moment in my Journey of Faith to a Knowing that comes through experience!!! Thank You Father for Writers such as David! Bless You for crossing our paths for your purposes in our lives.
So blessed by this!!
There are so many benefits to speaking in tongues. Here’s a couple I have experienced:
-Before two accidents in front of me, the Holy Spirit prompted me to pray in tongues.
-The Spirit once prompted me to pray in tongues and within 30 seconds, a car coming from the opposite direction spun out and was coming through the lane (no divider) but strangely jerked into the other direction.
-An angel showed up at the scene of a terrible accident my husband I witnessed. As he attended to the girl before the ambulance showed up, I put my hand gently on her chest and began praying in tongues. She immediately settled down (she was in shock and was jerking like a mad person) and then I felt an angel come up behind me and place their hands on me and look into the car. There was no one behind me (only three of us was at the scene, another Christian standing off to the side!)
-When needing to make big decisions, I have prayed in tongues and received the answers in powerful ways…
-Saved my life when I was working in Iraq, I had a terrible feeling and began to pray in tongues until I could get back to my room. My mother called the next day and asked what happened to me because the night before, God told her I was in danger.
Bottom line, through speaking in tongues, you are edifying yourself the same way prophecy edifies others (the same word is used in both contexts in the scriptures) You’re actually prophesying over yourself. People sometimes say “I want someone to prophesy over me” but you don’t need that (although it will happen), you can pray in tongues and receive the revelation straight from the Holy Spirit. It brings needed angelic assistance, divine revelation and wisdom, and peace because you know Holy Spirit is working on your behalf. The benefits are ENDLESS!
Reading this puts me in mind when I first began to Pray in Tongues, doing such would quiet my mind and eventually I discovered it was one of he ways the Holy Spirit was training me to listen for Father’s Voice. These quiet times evolved into pictures in my minds eyes and their interpretation and then even Visions came, those within and those where I left my Body and was taken to another place in the Spirit / Heavenlies.
Whenever I pray for someone, I always begin with Tongues (can pray silently in my mind too) and seek the mind of Christ for what I am to pray or say, if anything. This is how I receive a word of Knowledge or Wisdom or a Prophetic word for them as well as myself … I wholly agree, it is a way of edifying ourselves and others. GOOD WORD!
Trusting that there is an interpreter other than you.
You’re speaking of public ministry tongues which should be interpreted. I’m speaking of personal tongues… 1 Corinthians 14:14-15 (NKJV) “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is UNFRUITFUL. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. ”
In other words, if you pray in the Spirit, you may not have understanding of what you are saying. You are speaking the “tongues of angels” which I’m sorry, that’s not speaking of english or spanish or whatever. People can be given a “known” tongue but unknown means “not something someone has previous knowledge of”
1 Corinthians 13:1Though I speak with the tongues of men AND of angels.. According to your argument that the Apostles spoke in a language they had not learned is partially true but they were not speaking the “tongues of men” which is what you are speaking of. They’re speaking heavenly tongues…..Can some speak in another known language without having to learn it? Yes, I’ve heard testimonies but that’s not what the scriptures are referring to. A study of that would show otherwise.
1 Cor. 14:2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, NO ONE understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.
Again, tongues is speaking to GOD which NO ONE understands them (I think you can include yourself as a no one but the Spirit can interpret for you).
the scripture does not say “no one..unless they’re fluent in Spanish understands them..)
If church is defined as wherever two are gathered in “My name“ then Paul indicates there MUST (for emphasis, not yelling) be an interpreter. The Acts tongues were clearly known languages just not learned by the Apostles. When the Spirit prays it is with groanings which CANNOT be uttered, which would make such prayers difficult to be heard.
So, in this new Christian/Believer era, for believers, hearing the call, times, seasons through the spirit, how are those of us who hear daily, going to creatively and effectively share God’s “notes, messages” to the world so that it is effective and not another kooky “supposition?” We now have another generation of believers that have received and daily operate in the spirit but mostly to ourselves. We’re watching race wars, people falling away from the true faith and the same divisions between people that have existed since Babel but…how do we impact our world to show and reveal the benefit and power of Jesus’ death and ressurection through the gift of the Holy Spirit?
We are entered into a new time of explanation (through the word and experience) and laying on of hands. The generation before us, the one that caught our attention and helped us understand and enter the world of the Spirit Filled life is done. Our generation has a different task when it comes to spiritual gifts and their application for the next 10-20 years to give Jesus access to our world today. Let’s not be side-tracked or distracted. Let’s deliver, each of us, the message unique to each of us and trust the Holy Spirit to give the increase. We’re out of time…
I struggled for a while with trying to speak in tongues and thought I was still a sinner that’s why God wont use me and thought I had to go out for alter call again..fast forward the desire was stronger than the lie the devil was telling me…1 day I went into my office bathroom and just told God thank you for the gift he has released and started saying hallelujah , thank you Jesus in speed and I felt a warmth and oh my God if I weren’t in the office I would have screamed out….it started like little blabs and I questioned if they were real or me but knew I felt the warmth and presence of the Holyspirit. so next day I purposed to speak on my 45mins drive from work and wooow I went up with speed and I now speak in different tongues frequently it changes …NOW I would like to have understanding of what am praying about cos I believe its said we can ask the Spirit for interpretation. How does that happen? Do I get to speak the words in English or how is it translated back?