Purpose of this Session
There are many wonderful benefits that the Bible teaches concerning praying in tongues.
We will now look briefly at each of these benefits, with the belief that in doing so the student will be encouraged to pray in tongues more often and with greater faith.
- The ability to speak directly to the Father (deeper intimacy)
“For one who speaks in an [unknown] tongue speaks not to men but to God…” (1Cor 14:2 AMP)
Tongues provides an avenue of intimacy with the Father. It allows spirit-to-Spirit communication. God is a Spirit and has provided a language of the spirit whereby we can speak directly from our spirit, without the filter of intellect or reason. We should be aware that every time we open our mouth to speak in tongues it is a supernatural event.
At times we should take opportunity to speak and sing in the spirit in an affectionate way, developing capacity for intimacy with God. At other times we might speak in tongues with the Father concerning a particular need or concern, coming to Him simply and honestly saying, “Right now Father I am going to talk to You about this situation. I don’t know all the details but I need some answers so right now I want to speak to Someone with the answers…” Then begin to speak, listening all the time for prophetic flow with which God will answer.
- The ability to build yourself up spiritually
“He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself...” (1Cor 14:4 NKJV)
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (Jude 1:20-21 NKJV)
Tongues provides an a way in which the believer can wilfully build him or herself up spiritually. Jude 20 in the Amplified says:
“But you, beloved, build yourselves up [founded] on your most holy faith [make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], praying in the Holy Spirit;” (Jude 1:20 AMP)
Having laid the proper foundation of salvation through Christ, God has endowed the believer not only with the Word as a means of growing spiritually, but also a spiritual language, which, when exercised on an ongoing basis, develops strength and spiritual stamina in the believer. There is no limit to our growth should we choose to avail ourselves of this opportunity.
Strong’s concordance and Mounce’s Analytical Lexicon renders the word ‘edify’ as follows:
#3618. oikodomeo, oy-kod-om-eh´-o; from the same as 3619; to be a house-builder, i.e. construct or (figuratively) confirm: — (be in) build(-er, -ing, up), edify, embolden.
The Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament – William D Mounce
[(wÓˆkodo/moun), oi˙kodomh/sw, wÓˆkodo/mhsa, -, oi˙kodo/mhmai or wÓkodo/mhmai, oi˙kodomh/qhn or wÓˆkodomh/qhn] pluperfect, wÓˆkodo/mhto (3 sg), to build a house; to build, Matt 7:24; to repair, embellish, and amplify a building, Matt 23:29; to construct, establish, Matt 16:18; met. to contribute to advancement in religious knowledge, to edify, 1 Cor 14:4, 17; to advance a person’s spiritual condition, to edify, 1 Cor 8:1; pass. to make spiritual advancement, be edified, Acts 9:31
Clearly the ability to advance spiritually, to rise like an edifice, to confirm one’s steps and progress, to be built up and to be emboldened in faith, are great benefits. We would be foolish not to develop the ability to speak in tongues with maturity in the light of such advantages. All this can be received as we choose to set time aside to speak in tongues. Tongues can also be exercised during the day as circumstance allows (as we are driving etc) in order to continually build ourselves up in faith, and keep ourselves in the love of God.
As we exercise the gift in this manner, we develop inner strength to apprehend and take hold of God’s will for our lives.
- The ability to worship God in Spirit and truth
“God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality).” (John 4:24 AMP)
“For they heard them talking in [unknown] tongues (languages) and extolling and magnifying God…” (Acts 10:46 AMP)
“For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.”
(1 Cor 14:17)
Tongues allows us “(actively) to express gratitude (towards)” God (Strong’s Concordance). Through the exercise of tongues we can extol, magnify and worship God. They allow us to go beyond our own limited vocabulary and join with angels in the exaltation of our God. How awesome is this gift!
As the disciple develops in tongues they learn to sense the different flows from the inner man (Jesus said rivers (plural) would flow from the inner man). There are worshipful flows, aggressive flows, prophetic declarative flows, intimate flows; all proceed from the resident Holy Spirit within our heart. As we grow accustomed to His ways we can learn to yield to the particular stream arising from within our spirit, and move together with Him to accomplish His purpose. This flow of magnifying God is such a wonderful one, where we are lifted from the limitations of this world and caught up in heaven’s worship!
- The ability to pray the perfect will of God (even when it is unknown)
“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.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
(Rom 8:26-28 NKJV)
These ‘groanings’ (literally ‘sighs’) which cannot be uttered include in their simplest form the utterance in tongues.
Kenneth Hagin points out in ‘The Art of Intercession’:
“The late P C Nelson was a noted linguist. Some 30 years ago, a secular magazine called him the leading authority of the day on Greek and second-ranked authority on Hebrew. He could read and write 32 languages.
Nelson said that the Greek in Romans 8:26 actually implies “with groanings that cannot be uttered in articulate speech.”
They are uttered – but not in articulate speech. Articulate speech is your regular speech. These groanings…come from within you, out of your spirit, but to be effective they must escape your lips.”
Mary Alice Isleib in ‘Effective Fervent Prayer’ says:
“What that means is that the Holy Spirit prays with expressions that are beyond our natural language and past our articulate, or known, speech…Speaking and praying in tongues is one form of groaning, because when we pray that way, the prayer is created with sounds past our natural, known language. Speaking in tongues is not our own understandable vocabulary; it is a heavenly language. In it, with the Holy Spirit’s help, we form syllables and make sounds that are too deep for human utterance and expression.”
Tongues allows the disciple to pray in a manner which brings forth and prays according to the perfect will of God. It allows us to harmonise our prayers with the prayers of Christ, through His Spirit, and intercede on behalf of the saints. Yielding to the Spirit at this basic level often carries the praying believer into the deeper levels of utterance which we will consider in detail in the next section on ‘groaning and travail’.
- The ability to engage in spiritual warfare at a higher level
God has given us a sword in the Word, but He has also provided other weapons in our arsenal to defeat the plans of the enemy and establish the victory of Christ. One of these spiritual weapons is tongues. We will consider this area of prayer in greater detail in a later session, but touch upon some pertinent points here.
In regard to tongues and other spiritual utterance the Scripture says:
“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.” (Rom 8:26 NKJV)
The interesting element of this verse is discovered when we look at the original meaning of the word that is translated “helps”.
Strong’s 4878. sunantilambanomai, soon-an-tee-lam-ban´-om-ahee; from 4862 and 482; to take hold of opposite together, i.e. co-operate (assist): — help.
It literally means, “to take hold together with against”.
When we engage in spiritual warfare, the Holy Spirit through tongues and spiritual utterance “takes hold together with us against” those things which are contrary to the will of God being done in our lives, and the lives of those we are praying for.
It is also worth noting that the word translated ‘weaknesses’ in verse 26 literally means “inability to produce results”. When we face situations which refuse to yield to the will of God, or in which the will of God is unknown, the Holy Spirit takes hold together with us against those forces which prevent us producing desired results. This could be anything from ignorance, which requires revelation to be released, to outright demonic resistance. The Holy Ghost is present to aid us in our weakness, releasing through tongues the necessary supplication to obtain the answers we need.
Tongues allows us to intercede and pray in a manner which accurately addresses areas we have no knowledge or insight to tackle, and subdue them into conformation to God’s will and purpose. The same verse from Romans is rendered as follows in the Amplified Bible:
“So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance.” (Rom 8:26 AMP)
At times the Lord by His Spirit may roar and cry out through us in holy indignation against His enemies and ours:
“The Lord will go forth like a mighty man, He will rouse up His zealous indignation and vengeance like a warrior; He will cry, yes, He will shout aloud, He will do mightily against His enemies.” (Is 42:13 AMP)
The disciple must learn to yield to many flows from the inner man, including aggressive flows that devastate the enemy, and destroy demonic bondages.
- The ability to speak and call forth God’s prophetic purposes
Tongues is a supernatural utterance inspired by the indwelling Holy Spirit, bypassing the reason and mind of the person speaking. It is understood by God, but not by the natural mind. The Holy Spirit has the ability to search the heart of God and comprehend His purposes (He is indeed God Himself), and therefore, as we yield to Him, He can bring forth prophetic and creative utterance which will release God’s purposes in the spiritual world. These purposes, once established in the spirit, will inevitably manifest in the natural world.
Yielding to the Holy Spirit in tongues allows the creative word to go forth, and provides spiritual substance for God’s purpose to be prepared and established in our lives. Read the following verses carefully in this regard:
“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. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:26-28 KJV)
As we yield to the Holy Spirit in prayer the will of God is uttered and released, thus causing all things to work together toward the fulfilment of that purpose. If we refuse or fail to pray in this manner, God has little to work with in the spiritual realm and many of God’s desires and plans for our lives remain incomplete.
Proverbs 20, verse 5, says:
“Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.” (Prov 20:5 KJV)
As we pray in the Spirit we draw forth the counsel of God, communing with the very Spirit of counsel who lives within us:
“And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;” (Is 11:2 KJV)
As we exercise tongues in this way ideas will come up within us, direction and counsel regarding what to do, when and how. It is essential that we do not lean to our own understanding, but draw from the infinite resource resident in our heart. This is accomplished in times of communion with our God.
Coupled with the gift of interpretation of tongues this can be very powerful and revealing (1 Cor 12:10).
- The ability to release spiritual refreshment
One of the helpful aspects of tongues and prayer in the spirit is that it releases spiritual refreshment to those who exercise the gift. Similar to the fact that tongues builds the believer’s spiritual strength, so tongues can also release spiritual refreshment.
Just as fresh water drawn from a natural well can refresh those who partake of it, so the spiritual waters that are drawn from the heart of the believer can similarly grant refreshment.
Jesus said, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit…)”
(John 7:38-39 KJV).
This water is drawn up from the spiritual well of our inner man through prayer, just as counsel is drawn from the deep waters of the heart.
“For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. 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.” (Is 28:11-12 KJV)
In 1 Cor 14:21 Paul interprets these verses as referring to the exercise of tongues.
8. The ability to operate in the spiritual realm with greater accuracy and effectiveness
Tongues allows the believer to operate in the spiritual realm much more effectively. Just as a natural language gives the speaker greater insight and ability to operate in the country of that language, so our spiritual language allows us to operate and negotiate the spiritual world with a great deal more accuracy.
Tongues helps sensitise the heart to spiritual realities, making the praying saint more perceptive of his or her spiritual nature, and of the invisible world around them. The inner man is built up through tongues, so takes the ascendancy over our soul and flesh. We begin to operate out of our spirit rather than react from the soul/flesh area of our lives.