When God inaugurated the church on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2, speaking in tongues was part of the kickoff celebration. Every believer that was there was speaking in tongues. It was given as a free gift to every follower of Jesus. And this gift is still available to every follower of Jesus.
Speaking in tongues is a way to communicate with God that goes beyond the limits of the human intellect. Without supernatural revelation from the Holy Spirit, we don’t normally know the exact content of what we are saying when we speak in tongues. However, we can see from Scripture that it will usually fall into one of three general categories. Those are categories are: praise, prayer, and proclamation/declaration.
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered…
1 Corinthians 14:15-17
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. Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.
And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord…
Speaking in tongues is a wonderful way to praise and glorify the Lord. It allows your spirit (the part of you that was born again) to give glory and honor to God in ways that you are not capable of when you are limited by your human brain. This is likely a part of what Jesus was talking about in John 4, when He told the woman at the well “the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”
Personally, this is one of my favorite ways to worship Jesus. It gives me a way to express things to Him with my spirit that go beyond mental abilities. Sometimes, I just run out of words in my natural mind, so I go into the spirit and give Him glory supernaturally.
1 Corinthians 14:15
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.
…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints–
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.
Speaking in tongues gives you a way to pray when you need to go beyond your rational intellect. When you don’t know how to pray, or even what to pray for, then pray in the spirit. That is one of the reasons God gives us this ability. He knows that we need it, and He wants us to use it.
I use this very often, and often I get to see tangible results. Through praying in tongues, I can receive insight and wisdom for different situations. It is tool that God has given me to use when these situations arise. Sometimes I see things in a new light, sometimes I get revelation on things I didn’t even know I was asking about, which is extremely exciting and awe-inspiring.. This is because I am praying with my spirit, and not with my natural mind. There are things that are revealed to us in our spirit that our natural minds do not comprehend without some supernatural assistance (see 1 Corinthians 2:14).
We should take Paul’s advice. We should pray in tongues, and we should pray in English (or whatever your natural language is). It is good to do both. It is biblical to do both. It is effective to do both.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance….
…”we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”
1 Corinthians 14:2
For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries (Greek musterion: the hidden wisdom of God).
There will be times when you are speaking in tongues that you are announcing how awesome our God is. You may also be declaring His wisdom into a situation. You are making declarations that our God is mighty, and you are speaking His will out into the earth.
Sometimes, even though you can’t understand it, you can tell when you are doing this because of what is going on inside of you, and because of the way your speech changes tone. You will notice that you are not speaking in a way that sounds like you are asking for help. Instead, you are speaking with authority and you sense that something powerful is happening. It can sometimes be accompanied by strong emotion and forcefulness, almost like the way a police office would deal with a criminal who is resisting arrest. This can difficult to describe to someone who has never experienced it, but if you have done this before you will know exactly what I am talking about.
These are three general descriptions of things you might be doing when you are speaking in tongues: praise, prayer, and proclamation. Praying in the spirit is not limited to these three, but these cover a large part of what is going on while you do it. The more you pray in the spirit, the more you will experience each of these. All of them are great, and all of them are for us to use in our life.
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