Purpose of this Session
Tongues are a powerful prayer gift given by God to help believers experience the spiritual realm and enter the supernatural realm. It is an effective and extremely helpful gift that should be exercised regularly by all Spirit filled believers.
Before we embark on our study of tongues it is important that we first distinguish between two forms of the gift revealed in Scripture. One is given by the Holy Spirit as a ministry gift, and is used in public assembly as a means of exhortation and edification of the Body. Paul refers to this form of tongues in 1 Corinthians 14:27-28 and 1 Corinthians 12:29-30. It is a gift given specifically for a purpose in the public assembly, and is not given to all believers at all times. It is a manifestation of the ‘gifts of the Spirit’.
The other form of the gift is available for all believers and is a private devotional gift. This kind of prayer in the spirit is what is commonly known as ‘praying in tongues’ and can be enjoyed by all who believe God.
The Scriptures clearly define a major category of ‘praying in the Spirit’ as praying in tongues. Consider the following Scriptures:
“praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—” (Eph 6:18 NKJV)
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,” (Jude 1:20 NKJV)
“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.” (1 Cor 14:2 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.” (1 Cor 14:14-15 NKJV)
Clearly the Scriptures couple the idea of praying in the Spirit with tongues.
Tongues are a spiritual utterance given supernaturally by the action of the Holy Spirit, spoken from the human spirit, not the mind. They can be in a human language unknown to the speaker, or in a language not of this world.
Paul refers to tongues as being either the tongues of men or the tongues of angels. Both are supernaturally inspired and carry significance in the spiritual world:
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels…”
“There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance.” (1 Cor 14:10 NKJV)
Tongues in the book of Acts
Jesus Himself prophesied that one of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament covenant would be tongues:
“And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will…speak with new tongues;” (Mark 16:17 NKJV)
This sign was first manifest on the day of Pentecost, as recorded in the book of Acts:
“AND WHEN the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all assembled together in one place, When suddenly there came a sound from heaven like the rushing of a violent tempest blast, and it filled the whole house in which they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each one of them. And they were all filled (diffused throughout their souls) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the Spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words].” (Acts 2:1-4 AMP)
Examples of believers being filled with the spirit and speaking in tongues are found throughout the Book of Acts. Examples include:
- The Jewish disciples in the upper room. Acts 2:1-4
- The Gentiles in Cornelius’ house. Acts 10:44-47
- The Ephesians believers. Acts 19:1-6
- The New Testament letters, written during this period, abound with references and instruction concerning this vital area of spiritual life. Paul himself said that he exercised this gift so often that he praying in tongues more than all. (1 Cor 14:18)
It is interesting to note that where the Scripture mentions the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the proof was utterance in tongues. When we are baptised in the Holy Spirit we should expect tongues to be the initial proof.
The uses of tongues in prayer
Tongues has many benefits for the believer who exercises the gift. It is not just a one-time manifestation, but a permanent gift given when the believer who receives baptism in the Spirit, and is thereafter at the believer’s disposal. Tongues can be exercised at the will of the believer. We do not have to wait for a special anointing to come upon us; we can open our spirit at any moment and speak forth in our prayer language.
Benefits of tongues include the following (the benefits listed are not in any order of importance):
- The ability to speak directly to the Father (deeper intimacy)
- The ability to build yourself up spiritually
- The ability to worship God in Spirit and truth
- The ability to pray the perfect will of God (even when it is unknown)
- The ability to engage in spiritual warfare at a higher level
- The ability to speak and call forth God’s prophetic purposes
- The ability to release spiritual refreshment
- The ability to operate in the spiritual realm with greater accuracy and effectiveness