The apostle Paul wrote and spoke much about the subject of speaking in other tongues. He apparently practiced what he preached for he said, "I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all." I, too, thank God that I speak in tongues with regularity, and would wish for every believer this same blessing and source of power in his everyday life. The purpose of this article is to set forth major reasons why every Christian should speak in tongues, and to help them to see the blessings which can be theirs through appropriating the power of the Holy Spirit daily.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The Word of God teaches that when we are filled with the Holy Ghost we speak with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives utterance. It is an initial evidence or sign of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the first reason people should speak with other tongues is that this is a supernatural evidence of the Spirit's indwelling.
In the tenth chapter of Acts we read where the Jewish brethren who had come with Peter to Cornelius' house were astonished when they say that the gift of the Holy Ghost was poured out on the Gentiles. They thought it was just for the Jews. How did these Jews know that Cornelius' household had received the gift of the Holy Ghost?
"For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God" (Acts 10:46). Speaking in tongues was the supernatural sign that convinced them that the Gentiles had the same gift as they.
1 Corinthians 14:4
4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself . . . . .
In writing to the church at Corinth, Paul encouraged them to continue the practice of speaking with other tongues in their worship of God and in their prayer lives as a means of spiritual edification or building up. "For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries" (1 Cor. 14:2).
Paul is saying here that God has given to the church a divine, supernatural means of communication with Himself. In the 14th verse of this chapter Paul stated, "For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful." Notice that he said, "my spirit prayeth." The Amplified translation adds, "My spirit (by the Holy Spirit within me) prays." God is a Spirit. When we pray in tongues, our spirit is in direct contact with God, who is a Spirit. We are talking to Him in a divine, supernatural means.
Howard Carter, who was general supervisor of the Assemblies of God in Great Britain for nineteen years and founder of the oldest Pentecostal Bible school in the world, said that we must not forget that speaking with other tongues is not only the initial evidence of the Holy Spirit's infilling, but is also a continual experience for the rest of one's life. For what purpose? To assist us in the worship of God. Speaking in tongues is a flowing stream that should never dry up, and will enrich the life spiritually.
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
Continuing to pray and worship God in tongues helps us to be ever conscious of His indwelling presence. If I can be conscious of the indwelling presence of the Holy Ghost every day, it is bound to affect the way I live.
A minister's twelve year old daughter once lost her temper and was talking very rudely and hatefully to her mother. A visiting evangelist overheard the scene and when the girl looked up and saw him, knowing that he witnessed her tantrum she was embarrassed and broke into tears.
The evangelist asked her if she was filled with the Spirit. When she replied that she was, he reminded her that the Holy Spirit was in her. They had prayer together and she asked the Lord's forgiveness. While praying she began to worship God in tongues. When they were finished praying the evangelist said to her, "There is one secret that will help you curb your temper. If you will pray and worship God every day in tongues, it will help you to be conscious of the indwelling presence of the Holy Ghost. I you will remember that He is in you; you won't act that way."
Some years later when that evangelist returned to preach at that church the pastor's daughter told him, "I have never forgotten what you said. Every day for the past few years I have prayed and worshipped God in tongues, and I never lost my temper again."
Unfortunately, we all know people who have been filled with the Holy Ghost, yet still lose their temper and say and do things they shouldn't. This is only because they haven't been walking in the Spirit as they should. It is so easy, when we are not conscious of His presence, to become irritated and frustrated. But if we will take time to fellowship with Him, we can be conscious of His indwelling presence.
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Speaking in tongues keeps selfishness out of our prayers. If I pray a prayer out of my own mind and out of my own thinking, it may be unscriptural. It may be selfish. Too many times our prayers are like the old farmer who always prayed, "God bless me, my wife, my son John, his wife -- us four and no more."
In the scripture quoted above Paul didn't say that we didn't know how to pray, for we do. We pray to the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the correct way to pray. But just because I know what to pray for as I ought. Paul said, ". . . . We know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." P. C. Nelson said that the Greek here literally reads, "The Holy Ghost maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered in articulate speech." Articulate speech means our regular kind of speech. He went on to point out that the Greek stresses that this not only includes groanings escaping out lips in prayer, but also praying in other tongues. That agrees with what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:14, "For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth . . " The Amplified New Testament says, "My spirit (by the Holy Spirit within me) prays."
When you pray in tongues, it is your spirit praying by the Holy Spirit within you. It is the Holy Spirit within you giving you the utterance, and you are speaking it out of your spirit. You so the talking, He gives the utterance. By that method the Holy Spirit is helping you to pray according to the will of God, as things should be prayed for. This isn't something that the Holy Ghost does apart from you. He doesn't groan or speak in tongues apart from you. Those groanings come from inside us and escape out lips.
The Holy Ghost is not going to do our praying for us. He is sent to dwell in us as a Helper and an Intercessor. He is not responsible for our prayer life, He is sent to help us to pray. Speaking with other tongues is praying as the Spirit gives utterance. It is Spirit-directed praying. It eliminates the possibility of selfishness in out prayers.
Many times when people have prayed out of their own minds, they have changed things that were actually not the will of God and were not best. If God's people want things a certain way, even if it isn't best for them or God's perfect will, He will often permit it. God did not want Israel to have a king, but they wanted one, so He permitted them to have one. But it was not His highest will.
20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost.
The fifth reason every believer should speak with tongues is that it stimulates faith and helps us learn how to trust God more fully. If the Holy Spirit supernaturally directs the words I speak, faith must be exercised to speak with tongues. I don't know what the nest word will be -- I am trusting God for that. And trusting God in one line will help me to trust Him in another.
There was once a fine Christian woman in the church I pastored who dearly loved the Lord. But she was afflicted in body. She had an ulcerated stomach, and the doctors feared that it would lead to cancer. Her husband made good money, but he had spent everything he had on doctor bills.
This woman received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and shortly after that I visited in their home again. I noticed that she was eating anything, whereas before she could eat only a little baby food and milk, and had difficulty keeping even that on her stomach. She told me, "I received not only the Baptism of the Holy Ghost and spoke in tongues, but I received my healing as well. I am perfectly well."
I have seen this happen many times. What is the connection? We know that receiving th Baptism of the Holy Ghost doesn't heal us. However, speaking with tongues helps us to learn how to trust God more fully.
1 Corinthians 14:28
28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
The sixth reason ever Christian should speak in tongues is that this is a means of keeping us free from the contamination of the ungodly and the profane, and all the vulgar talk around us on the job or out in public.
Notice from the scripture quoted above that we can speak with tongues to ourselves. Paul said that in the church service, "If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God." If we do this in church, then we can do it on the job. It won't disturb anyone. In the barber shop, for instance, when the men there tell risque jokes, I just sit there and speak to myself and to God in tongues. Riding the train, bus or airplane, we can speak to ourselves and to God. On the job we can speak to ourselves and to God. Talking in tongues to yourself and to God will be a means of keeping free from contamination.
The seventh reason every believer should speak in tongues is that it provides a way to pray for things for which no one thinks for which no one thinks to pray or is even aware. We already know that the Holy Spirit helps us to pray for what we know not how to pray as we ought. In addition the Holy Spirit, who knows everything, can pray through us for things about which our natural mind knows nothing.
In 1956 when my wife and I were in California I was awakened suddenly in the night. It was as if someone had laid his hand on me and I sat bolt upright in bed, my heart beating rapidly. "Lord, what is the matter?" I asked. "I know something is wrong somewhere. Holy Spirit in me, You know everything. You are everywhere as well as within me. Whatever this is, You give me utterance."
I prayed in tongues for an hour and then I began to laugh and sing in tongues. (When praying this way, always continue praying until you have a note of praise. Then you will know that whatever it is you are praying about has been prayed through.)
I knew what I had been praying for had come to pass. I had the answer, so I went back to sleep. I dreamed that I say my youngest brother become extremely ill in Louisiana. He had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance. I dreamed that the doctor came out of his hospital room, pulled the door closed behind him and told me that he was dead. I said, "No, doctor, he is not dead. The Lord told me he would live and not die." In the dream the doctor became very angry with me for doubting his professional ability; he took me into the room to see for myself that my brother was indeed dead.
Jerking the sheet from his face to prove that he was dead, he saw that my brother was breathing and his eyes were open. Astonished, the doctor said, "Why, you knew something I didn't know. He is alive, isn't he?" I saw my brother rise up well and then the dream ended. I knew then that this was what I was praying about.
Three months later when I saw my brother he said to me, "I nearly died while you were gone." I told him that I knew all about the attack he had during the night and how he had been rushed to the hospital. "How did you know?" he asked. I told him about my burden for prayer followed by the dream. "That's exactly how it happened! They told me that for about forty minutes there at the hospital the doctor thought I was gone."
Praying in the Spirit provides a way for things to be prayed for that we wouldn't know anything about in the natural. The Holy Ghost, however, knows everything.
11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
12 To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
What is the rest, the refreshing, that the above passage of scripture refers to? Speaking in other tongues.
Sometimes the doctor recommends a rest cure, but I know the best one in the world. Often when you take a vacation, you have to come home and rest before going back to work. But isn't it wonderful that we can take this "rest cure" every day? "This is the rest . . . this is the refreshing." We need this spiritual refreshing in these days of turmoil, perplexity, and anxiety.
1 Corinthians 14:15-17
15 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.
16 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?
17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
When Paul said, "He that occupieth the room of the unlearned . . . " in verse 16 above, he was referring to those who are unlearned in spiritual things.
If you invited me to dinner and said, "Please give thanks;" and if I prayed in tongues you wouldn't know what I said. You wouldn't be edified. Therefore, Paul said it would be better to pray with my understanding there. If I did pray in tongues, I should interpret it so you would know what was said.
Notice that Paul is saying that praying in tongues provides the most perfect way to pray and to give thanks, for he said, "Thou givest thanks well." But in the presence of people who are unlearned, Paul said to pray with your understanding also so that they can be edified; they will understand what you say.
8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
Yielding the tongue to the Holy Spirit to speak with other tongues is a giant step toward fully yielding all of out members to God. For if we can yield this most unruly member, we can yield any member.
In conclusion I want to point out that, while these ten reasons have dealt primarily with tongues in th individual believer's private life, it is also true that there is a public side to tongues. First, when people receive the Holy Ghost publicly they speak with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance. Second, the church is edified by speaking with other tongues in public assembly with interpretation. Paul plainly stated that to prophesy is to speak unto men "to edification, and exhortation, and comfort" (1 Cor. 14:3). But he said, "Greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret" (1 Cor. 14:5). He is saying that tongues with interpretation is equivalent to prophecy. If he interprets then, the one who is prophesying is not greater. To illustrate, it takes two nickels to make a dime. But two nickels are not a ten-cent piece. Paul is saying that prophecy is the dime, the ten-cent piece. Naturally, it would be better to have the dime than to have the nickel (speaking with tongues). But if interpretation went along with it, then the two of them together would be equivalent to the dime.
Prophesying is "speaking unto men to edification, and exhoration, and comfort." Prophesying is not preaching. There can be an element of prophecy in preaching sometimes, but these are supernatural gifts. If prophesying were preaching, then you wouldn't have to make any preparation to preach. But you have to study. Paul said "Study to show thyself approved unto God . . . " (2 Tim. 2:15). You don't have to study to speak with tongues or to interpret. You don't have to study to prophesy. It comes by inspiration of the Spirit. Of course, when one is preaching under the inspiration of the Spirit and suddenly he says things he never thought of, that is inspiration and is an element of prophecy.
When speaking with tongues and interpretation, the church is edified. When used in line with the Word of God, speaking with tongues with interpretation convinces the unbeliever of the reality of the presence of God, and often causes him to turn to God and be saved.
Jesus said, "and these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils"(Mark 16;17). That can be private or public. "They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover" (Verse 18). That can be private or public. Another sign is, "They shall speak with new tongues" (Verse 17). Of course, we don't want prolonged praying in tongues in the service because unless there is an interpretation, folks don't know what is said and are not edified. It is all right to pray in the altar service as long as you want, for you go there to get edified. If everyone is lifting their hands and praying in the service, it is all right for you to pray in tongues. I stand on the platform and pray that way every night. But when the congregation ceases praying, I cease praying. The congregation wouldn't be edified if I went on and on.
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