Thursday, March 31, 2011


The people in our Baptist church loved the Lord, but I was not satisfied with the routine. I had a hunger to know and walk with Jesus in the same way as those early Christians I read about in the Bible. The Lord heard the cry of my heart, and I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit in the early days of the Charismatic movement in 1967 when I was 17 years old.
The Lord was pouring out His Spirit upon people in all church denominations in the USA and around the world. Christians were receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit and were experiencing a renewal in the gifts of the Holy Spirit including healing and praying in tongues. I myself witnessed miracles of healing in those days and experienced the excitement and enthusiasm one would expect with the discovery of such new-found treasures. Multitudes rejoiced to know that Jesus Christ was working in the church and on the earth in the same intimate way He did in the Bible. People were justifiably excited, and there were many whose zeal may have exceeded their wisdom.

Not everyone was happy with these developments, and it was not uncommon to hear people say, "Don't get involved with tongues. They cause division." Relational stresses did occur, but the reasons are more complex than simply blaming “tongues.”

Orthodox Christianity will naturally respond to perceived heresies when they arise. Therefore, divisions may occur when good people react justifiably to an evil doctrine or practice that tries to invade the church. But we must also realize that truth itself can cause division when people react to it in a hostile manner. Therefore, division does not necessarily indicate that the message causing the division is wrong or evil. While the New Testament condemns division arising from heresy and self-will, it also gives examples of division and strife arising because people rejected God's word and stumbled over truth.

Truth can bring division and even confusion when men reject it. The ministry of the Apostle Paul is an example of how conflict and strife can be the result of a negative reaction to positive truth. The following verses show how this happened to Paul as he preached the gospel message across the Roman Empire.

"These men (Paul and his company) do exceedingly trouble our city [are throwing our city into confusion], and they teach customs which are not lawful for us…to receive or observe." Acts 16: 20.
"There arose no small disturbance [a great commotion] about the Way." Acts 19: 23
"So the whole city was filled with confusion...Some cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together." Acts 19: 29, 32.
"For we have found this man (the apostle Paul) a plague [a real pest] and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world. " Acts 24: 5

We must emphasize that the Apostle Paul never deliberately tried to incite trouble. The Gospel is a message of peace, and it will produce peace in the individual and society who believe and act upon it. But the word of God is rarely received in a neutral manner. Truth carries with it the ability to bring joy, peace, and blessing. But it sometimes confronts people with realities they are not yet willing to face, and so has the potential to create tension. The messenger will often find himself either loved or hated.

Therefore, we must walk in compassion, wisdom, and love, and do everything in our power to bless and not hurt God’s people. If they are going to be offended, let them be offended by the truth itself and not by our lack of wisdom or foolishness in how we present it. We should not be arrogant, insensitive, unwise, or unloving, but walk humbly and with grace. But even when we have conducted ourselves in the wisest possible way with exemplary love and patience, there will still be those who are offended by truth. There will be those for whom certain truths will be unpalatable, no matter how much “sweetener” we add and no matter how much we disguise it in the comfortable fit of the person’s culture. We must do all we can to walk in love and wisdom, but also be prepared for those who reject the truth and sometimes us with it.

Praying in tongues is one aspect of our spiritual experience that has been a controversial topic. We are thankful for this valuable prayer tool and we encourage others to practice it. But we do not force it on anyone nor do we condemn or judge anyone who disagrees. Praying in tongues does not make me better than anyone else, but it does make my own prayer life better than it would be otherwise.

“…Keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you.” 1 Corinthians 11: 2

Tongues is part of the traditions passed down by Paul and the other apostles. We should hold firmly to these traditions and not lay them aside in favor of the ones developed subsequently by those destitute of the gifts. We avoid division caused by doctrine and traditions that are contrary to what Paul and the early apostles taught (Romans 16: 17), but we embrace that doctrine and tradition which was practiced by the early Christians, and are willing to pay the price to do so. We should not allow ourselves to be blinded by the traditions of men (Mark 7: 1-13) which contradict God's word, nor should we allow the fear of man to cause us to compromise the truth (John 12: 42, 43). We want to be faithful servants who follow our Lord Jesus Christ to do His will in all things. But in doing so we must be careful to walk in grace, wisdom, and love, and be patient with those who disagree.  (Hebrews 10:31-33).

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all….to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, …” 1 Corinthians 12: 10.

The objective of this teaching has been to encourage and help the reader to enter the presence of God in a deeper experience of intercessory prayer and praise. I imagine my primary audience has been those who are spiritually hungry, those who sense a call to intercession, and those who possess a certain insight into prayer and God’s presence. A few readers may have joined us who were simply curious about the topic. In any case, I trust the study has been helpful, informative, and enlightening. I also pray it has been motivational in stirring the reader to a deeper level of prayer and intercession so desperately needed in the world today..
“If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays.”
“For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God.”
“For indeed, you give thanks well.”            1 Corinthians 14: 2, 14, 17
"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..."   Romans 8: 26

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Do I have to pray in tongues?
A friend of mine once said, “You don’t have to; you get to.” My personal opinion is that a person can be filled with the Holy Spirit without praying in tongues, but I also believe that every person who is filled with the Holy Spirit can and should pray in tongues. Praying in the Spirit opens up so many avenues in ones spiritual life and serves so many useful purposes. It does not make you better than anyone else, but it is a wonderful tool to help you reach higher into your own spiritual potential.

Praying in tongues is the door to the other manifestations of the Spirit.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit (being filled with the Holy Spirit) releases your spirit to move more freely in the Holy Spirit. Praying in the Spirit is a means of exercising your spirit and helps you to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit, thus releasing your ability to work with Him in other manifestations and gifts of the Spirit.
Generally speaking, people who reject tongues also fail to experience a real release in the other supernatural gifts of the Spirit.

In the New Testament praying in tongues was not some unusual and rare phenomenon that occurred only once for each person at the initial infilling of the Holy Spirit, but was a common daily practice of the praying believer.
In 1 Corinthians 14: 18 Paul says, "I speak.” He did not say, "I spoke". He uses the present tense which in Greek refers to progressive or continuing action. This verse along with the following verse implies that Paul prayed a great deal in tongues outside the Church in his daily prayer life. Praying in tongues is a vital aspect of Paul’s exhortation that we should “pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…” (Ephesians 6:18). A person can pray in his own language or in tongues anywhere, anytime, no matter what else he is doing.

To forbid tongues is to disobey a direct biblical command.
“Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophecy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.”
1 Corinthians 14: 39

There are two major categories of tongues.
This perspective is drawn from an objective look at all the verses on the subject and clarifies certain verses.

One category is the simple manifestation of the Spirit used for prayer, intercession, praise and worship, or edification to strengthen the believer. This does not require an interpreter, and there is no limit to the number who can be praying together in this fashion. (1 Corinthians 14: 2, 4)

The second category is the ministry of tongues. This refers to an individual's being moved upon by the Spirit to speak a message in tongues to or before the congregation while all others listen silently. This is to be followed by an interpretation and is limited to "two or three at the most". 1 Corinthians 14:27-28. If there is no one who will interpret, then the person is to "keep silent" (that is, not give the message in tongues to the church, but to "speak to himself and to God" in his own language or in tongues).

"Two or three at the most" 1 Corinthians 14: 27
This limitation is placed on the messages in tongues addressed to the Church. There is no limit placed on the number who can pray in tongues in regular prayer, praise, worship, and intercession. Congregational singing and worship in tongues can be very beautiful. It is interesting to note that in every example in the book of Acts there are more than three people praying in tongues. There were at least one hundred and twenty people praying in tongues simultaneously on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4; 1:15). In Cornelius’ household there was a house full of people praying in the Spirit at the same time (Acts 10: 44-48). There were twelve at Ephesus (Acts 19: 6-7).

"Keep silence"? 1 Corinthians 14:28
"Silence" here (as well as in 14: 34 regarding women) is not to be taken in the absolute sense. The term "Silence" is implying that a person should not address his message to the church without an interpreter. If there is no interpreter, he should be quiet in the sense of not giving the word to the church. But "let him speak to himself and to God" (in his own languages or in tongues).

The meaning is used in a similar manner in 1 Corinthians 14: 34 regarding women keeping silent in Church. It is obvious from l Corinthians 11: 1-16 that Paul expected women to speak up in prayer, prophecy, exhortation, and all of the other gifts of the Spirit. Paul was not saying that women or tongues should be silent in the absolute sense.

Is tongues the least gift? 1 Corinthian's 12: 28
People mistakenly infer this from 1 Corinthians 12: 28 where it is last in a list. The list here denotes ministries (1 Corinthians 12: 18, 28). Tongues may be a lesser ministry, but it is not a lesser personal gift. Each of these gift-ministries is a "member" set in the body of Christ by God Himself, regardless of order of importance. God does nothing that is not important, and He does nothing that is unnecessary. Praying in tongues was designed by the wisdom of God to serve very practical and useful purposes. Verse 18 says that all the various gifts are like members (limbs) of a body. They were all set in the body by God Himself, and they all please Him.

We must, therefore, beware of arrogance that despises tongues or any other work of the Holy Spirit. We should never despise what God was pleased to institute.

Tongues is not the least gift. It is probably one of the most important personal gifts. Tongues is much like a key. A key is not the most important tool around the house, but it is vital in unlocking access to other more important things in the house. Even if tongues was the least gift, that would be no reason to avoid it or think of it as bad, something to fear, or something to "throw out the window" saying ''I have no need of thee". 1 Corinthians 12: 21-24.

Is Paul saying to prophesy instead of praying in tongues? 1 Corinthians 14: 5
The Greek phrase "Mallon de" in the King James Version is mistakenly translated "but rather." While this translation can be technically correct, in this context it represents a grammatical irregularity (a command followed by a contradiction). It should be translated "but more" which is also technically correct and more logical for the context. The newer translations as a whole translate it "but more."
14: 5 "I want you to pray in tongues, but moreover (mallon de) that you go on and prophesy."
14: 1 "Be zealous for spiritual gifts, and especially (mallon de) prophecy."
In both verses the "mallon de" wants to add something. In neither verse does it negate the directive that preceeds it.

Do all speak with tongues? 1Corinthians 12: 30
All do not have the ministry of tongues in which messages are given to the body to be interpreted, but all can pray in tongues for personal devotions, prayer, intercession, praise and worship. The same principle applies to both prophecy and tongues. Note the following:

Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 12: 29, "Are all prophets?" The obvious and expected answer is "no." All do not function in the office of Prophet. Neither do all function in the specialized ministry of prophecy (Romans 12: 6). However, Paul does say that "you can all prophesy" (1 Corinthians14: 31, 24) and that we should desire and seek to prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:1). So all are not prophets, meaning not all hold that office or move in prophecy as a ministry, yet all can prophesy.

In the same way, all do not have the ministry of tongues in which messages in tongues are addressed to the church (1 Corinthians 12: 30), yet all can pray in tongues (1 Corinthians 14: 5).

Tongues will not cease until Jesus returns. 1 Corinthians 13: 8-12
“…but whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they shall cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For now we know in part, and we prophecy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away…For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.”

Tongues will cease when that which is perfect has come. "That which is perfect" refers to the age to come. Paul is comparing the “now” and the “but then.” We are still in the "now" era. The "but then" refers to a time when everything will be perfected and when that which is in part shall be done away. We shall see face to face and shall know fully even as we are fully known. That time has not yet arrived.

Meanwhile, all of the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit that were operating in the early church should be working in the church today. According to Ephesians 4: 11-16 the Apostles and Prophets shall continue until the church “attains the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Thus, tongues, prophets, apostles, and all of the other operations and manifestations of the Holy Spirit that were experienced by the early Christians will continue until the church is perfected, until Jesus returns.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Significance of Tongues in Relation to Praise

“Speaking the Wonderful Works of God”
"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues (languages) as the Spirit gave them utterance…. Then they [Jews from foreign nations] were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language? ...we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” Acts 2: 1-11;

Tongues: for Prayer and Praise, Not for Preaching.
People who do not understand the purpose of tongues use 1 Corinthians 14: 14-26 as a basis for forbidding them altogether. The following paragraph is my understanding of what Paul meant.

The praise in tongues on the Day of Pentecost was not meant to edify the listeners, but was a sign that captured their attention and drew them to the gathering. The foreigners thought these worshippers were drunk. This is a good illustration of what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 14: 23 where he says that an uninformed person or unbeliever may think you’re crazy. The Day of Pentecost exemplifies Paul’s teaching that prayer and praise in tongues are directed to God and not to man. Tongues edify the speaker but may in some cases be a sign to the listeners (1 Corinthians 14: 22).
The crowd heard their own languages, and knew these people were praising God. However, the praises did not explain anything to the listeners, but rather, got their attention and raised the question, “What does this mean?” Peter then stood up and gave the sermon that provided the answer. The “10,000 words in tongues” did not edify the crowd but did give praise to God and served as a sign to gather the multitude to hear Peter’s message.

A Form of Praise We See in the Psalms
The worshippers on the Day of Pentecost were speaking to God, recounting and rehearsing his mighty acts and thanking Him for all He has done. This is a form of praise we find throughout the Psalms. Praying in tongues enables us, like the Psalmist, to “speak the wonderful works of God,” but supernaturally in earthly languages (tongues of men) or in heavenly languages (tongues of angels).
”Though I speak with the tongues of men or of angels…” 1 Corinthians 13:
"Who can speak of (utter) the mighty deeds of the Lord, or can show forth all His praise?" Psalms 106: 2
"Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, for His wonderful works to the children of men." Psalm 107: 8, 15, 21, 31
"Oh give thanks to the Lord… make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him. Speak of all His wonders (wondrous works). Psalm 105: 1-2

“Spiritual Songs” Are Songs of the Spirit.
“What is it then…I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding…for indeed you give thanks well…” 1 Corinthians 14: 15-17.
“…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Ephesians 5: 18-19
“…in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colosians 3: 16

The verses above speak of Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. “Psalms” refers to songs which take their general character from the Psalms, usually accompanied by musical instruments, and repeating the wonderful works of God. “Hymns” speaks of songs of praise. In early Greek writings from Homer on down it referred to praise of heroes and conquerors. “Spiritual songs” are songs sung in the Spirit, a person’s spirit singing by the Holy Spirit.

"Spiritual songs" is a translation of the Greek words "hodais pneumatikois."  "Hodais" is the generic term for "songs," whether praise song or songs about any other subject. "Pneumatikos" is the word for "spiritual," or "belonging to spirit" and is the same word used in 1 Corinthians 12: 1 referring to "spiritual gifts," meaning “that which operates in the realm of spirit.” Paul is not using the term “spiritual songs” in the same way our contemporary culture uses it to refer to “spirituals” (gospel songs) as opposed to “secular” music. In this context (1 Corinthians 14) he is talking about spiritual gifts, and tongues in particular. “Spiritual” here refers to spirit as opposed to the mind, singing in tongues as opposed to singing with the understanding. “Spiritual songs,” therefore, refers to the Holy Spirit working through the human spirit, singing in tongues.
“I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.” 1 Corinthians 14: 14-16

God is Great and Greatly to be Praised
Praying in the Spirit enables us to enter a deeper dimension of praise and worship. To appreciate tongues we need to appreciate praise itself. In a previous post I referred to the many various expressions of praise we see in scripture, such as lifting the hands and voice in praise, dancing before the Lord, clapping hands, leaping for joy, and singing songs to God both a cappella and with every form of musical instrument. We now add  tongues to that list.  The psalmist said, "God is great and greatly to be praised." We, therefore, should praise Him greatly and with every tool He has made available to us.

“Oh for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise, the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace.” - Charles Wesley.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


A Supernatural Cloud of Glory

“It came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord…that the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.” 2 Chronicles 5: 13-14, (See also Luke 9:34-35)

My wife Laurel and I once witnessed an unusual manifestation of God’s presence during praise and worship at a conference in California in the early seventies. There were about 300 people standing with hands lifted to the Lord and singing praises in tongues. It was a beautiful harmonious blend of voices rising to the Lord like a symphony orchestra. As I looked about I saw what appeared to be a misty cloud that filled the room. My initial reaction was to rub my eyes thinking there was a problem with my vision. But then I saw the leaders excitedly moving about on stage and pointing out over the congregation. Everyone at that moment realized we were witnessing the cloud of God’s glory being manifested in response to the praise. This was an awesome experience. Ralph Mahoney, the director of World Missionary Assistance Plan (World MAP), wrote about this event in a subsequent publication of the organization’s magazine.
Our experience that night reminded us that praying and singing in tongues can be a significant instrument of praise.

An Appreciation of Praise
To appreciate tongues as an instrument of praise you must first have an appreciation of praise itself. Otherwise, the discussion remains in the realm of dry technicalities. Therefore, I would like to briefly discuss praise before discussing tongues as it relates to praise.

Praise can be quiet reverence speaking silently from the heart, but should also include outward expressions of exuberant and joyous enthusiasm. It is not simply a feeling or ritual, but is an act of worship in which the human spirit expresses itself through voice and body to give thanksgiving, honor, and glory to God. Praise should not be limited to inner silent thought but should be an expression of the whole person verbally and physically reaching out to God. We should have the same enthusiasm for God that fans show to their sports teams. Why should we “make the rafters ring” for a ball team but remain lifeless and frozen when we approach God?

We see many various expressions of praise in the Bible. We see the children of God lifting their hands and voices in praise. We see them dancing before the Lord, clapping their hand, leaping for joy, and singing songs to God, sometimes a cappella and sometimes with every form of musical instrument. We hear them reciting to the Lord all His wonderful deeds and mighty acts. We see the people spreading palm branches before Jesus as He makes His triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

Worship is not a cold solemnity we call reverence, but a living and joyous expression of honor and love to the living and very present God before whom we stand and to whom we lift our voices. It should not be a passive audience listening to a worship team on stage, nor just a collection of people worshipping as isolated individuals, but a body of believers joined as one, as a family, to make one sound rising to God as a beautiful symphony.

Praise is more than warm Sunday morning songs we sing prior to the sermon. It is the people of God dynamically entering the presence of God and touching Him with their spirits and pouring forth love and honor to Him, and in turn experiencing the presence of God that inhabits those praises. Like prayer it is also a means by which God allows His people to be dynamically involved in the release of His awesome work upon the earth. This is evident in many of the Psalms and in the praise paragraphs that are interspersed throughout the book of Revelation. Praise is an acknowledgment of the King and His coming kingdom. No wonder Jesus said, “If these were to keep silent, the very stones would cry out!”

 “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thundering, saying, ‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!’” Revelation 19: 6.

This post is meant to stir our hearts toward praise. The next post will give the specific scripture verses that describe tongues as an instrument of praise.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


“Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts.” 1 Corinthians 14: 1

So many people approach the subject of the manifestations or gifts of the Holy Spirit from a purely doctrinal or analytical point of view. To do this is to miss the real significance and wonder of all it all. Our ability to fully appreciate the magnificent gifts and tools the Lord has placed in our hands depends on the depth of our vision and motivations. What we see determines what we reach for. What we desire (and why we want it) determines the passion and enthusiasm with which we pursues it.

The apostle Paul covered the issues of desire and motivation when he said we should “pursue love and desire spiritual gifts.” When we move in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit we are expressing our hunger for God’s active presence among us and we are showing our love and care for those around us. Jesus healed people because He was moved with compassion. We will move in the gifts of the Spirit as we are moved with His compassion. The gifts therefore are instruments of God’s love. It is Pharisaical to argue the theology of healing when you have people around you sick and in need of healing. I want to move in prophetic insight because there are people who need an encouraging word from God. I want to have a word of wisdom because someone is perplexed or confused and asking God for direction. I want to see miracles because so many people are facing impossibilities and need the “waters to part.” I want to pray in tongues because it strengthens my prayer life, strengthens my spirit, and helps release my ability to move in the other gifts of the Spirit, which will in turn touch others with the compassion, presence, and power of God.

When we speak of spiritual gifts, we are speaking of the presence of Jesus Christ working among us. We are not necessarily focusing on the spectacular and the dramatic, although these do occur from time to time. But mostly we look for those unobtrusive and often unnoticed acts of the Holy Spirit working in the background and which flow among us as life and grace, quietly yet deeply touching and blessing the lives of those around us. It is those daily, obscure, and non-spectacular acts of obedience that strengthen the church. It flows out of the individual’s desire to be used of God, and his willingness to reach out to people with love and compassion. It is to these that I direct you.

1 Corinthians 12: 7-11 lists the manifestations of the Holy Spirit (Spiritual gifts). Each of these gifts works through you to touch or bless others, except for tongues, which is the only one specifically designed for you to use to build up and strengthen yourself.

“He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself…” 1 Corinthians 14: 4
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.”  Jude 1: 20
When you pray in tongues you edify yourself. This verse has been used erroneously to say that praying in tongues was for the immature, ignorant, and unstable. But all Christians need to be edified and built up. Why would you throw away an obvious tool that is placed in your hand for that very purpose. It is not noble or logical to say, “I will seek to build up others, but I will not build up myself.” It is proper and necessary that we seek to strengthen ourselves in the Lord.
Paul himself says that he prayed in tongues more than all the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 14: 18), and he was a spiritual giant. To say that tongues was for the unstable and immature is actually a powerful argument in favor of tongues. The most serious cases require the most potent medicine, and what works for a person who is weak should do wonders for a person who is healthy.

Praying in tongues is an important step in strengthening your own spirit and releasing you to move more freely in the Holy Spirit. It is a door that opens unto the other manifestations of the Spirit. Tongues is much like a key. A key is not the most important tool around the house, but it is vital in unlocking access to other more important things in the house.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Praying in the Spirit


“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 Corinthians 14: 14-15

The term “spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthians 12: 1) is the Greek word "pneumatikos." It can be translated "spirituals," meaning “that which is spirit by nature and which operates in the realm of spirit.” Tongues is included in this list. Jude 1: 20 speaks of praying “in the Holy Spirit,” and 1 Corinthians 14:14 speaks of praying “with the spirit” (meaning our own human spirit). Praying in tongues, therefore, is Holy Spirit’s working through the human spirit rather than through the mind.

Praying in tongues is just one aspect of praying in the Holy Spirit. All genuine prayer is in the Holy Spirit, but Paul’s reference in 1 Corinthian 14:14 speaks specifically of praying in tongues as opposed to his own language. He said, “My spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.”

The prayer life of so many Christians is shallow because they pray only from their head and not from their heart. They have not experienced that release of the spirit that allows them to pour out their soul before the Lord (John 7:37-38). They stay in the realm of the mind and intellect in their Christian walk; and this is reflected in the superficial nature of their prayers.

This type of person tends to be afraid of tongues because they see it as an emotional extreme. My own observation, however, is that the shallow complacency of intellect devoid of Spirit is a greater problem in western Christianity than is emotionalism. For every Christian who has fallen into emotional extremes there are significantly more who sit with minimal spiritual life going through religious rote and empty ritual.

Churches and Christians who lack real spiritual depth tend to err in one of two directions. One group tends to keep everything at an intellectual level substituting intellect for spirit, while another group tends to be very emotional equating emotion with spirituality. Both can quench the Holy Spirit. [A third, but non-Christian, alternative is the “spirit of the world” 1 Corinthians 2: 12; Ephesians 2:2) which is demonic and characterizes the new age and occult movements.]

Intellectualism is offended by tongues because tongues is a work of the Holy Spirit through the human spirit causing the mind and intellect to take a backseat. Emotionalism can accept tongues but hijacks it and turns it into a soulish experience that actually quenches the human spirit and Holy Spirit.

“If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays…” 1 Corinthians 14:13
“And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” 1 Corinthians 14: 32
“Let all things be done decently and in order.” 1 Corinthians 14: 40

Tongues is not "ecstatic speech" as some have mistakenly translated it. A person can pray in tongues calmly and quietly and in the same manner as he prays in his own language. He can pray quietly under his breath in a whisper, in a normal conversational tone, or he can shout with great volume and intensity. When you pray in tongues, your spirit prays, and your spirit is subject to you.

Emotionalism occurs when people unwisely wait for some outside force to "take over." People should be in control of themselves when they pray in tongues or move in any of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12: 7-11). Paul told the Corinthians that prophets were not to interrupt each other. The spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet (1 Corinthians 14: 30-33). Therefore, when he gets a word, he can wait and give it at the appropriate time. The Holy Spirit may at times move very strongly upon a person, but will not “take over’ and force anyone to stand up and speak uncontrollably. The same principle applies to praying in tongues.

The Bible and history show us that there have been and will be times of special revival and visitation when God does unusual and extraordinary things accompanied by emotion, great joy, and unusual physical manifestations. But still, while emotional reactions may accompany the workings of the Spirit, emotions should not be confused with the Spirit nor seen as a requirement. Emotionalism (when emotions become the goal and focus) actually tends over time to quench the working of the Holy Spirit.

Emotion is a God-given aspect of human nature. It can be a response to God’s presence and an instrument through which we express worship and praise. But we should not confuse emotions with the Holy Spirit. After times of unusual manifestations of the Spirit during extraordinary revivals there is a danger of ritualizing the unusual experiences and perpetuating them artificially. Substituting emotions for the Spirit rings shallow and hollow.

Tongues is meant to be a spiritual experience. It is not primarily intellectual or emotional. Praying in tongues (the supernatural ability to pray in an unknown language by the Holy Spirit) is God's way of delivering Himself from man's limitedness and finiteness of language and intellect. Tongues allows the Holy Spirit to by-pass our natural minds and to pray directly through our spirits in behalf of those issues, events, and purposes which are beyond the realm of our comprehension or which are beyond the bounds of our need to know.

“If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays.” 1 Corinthians 14: 14

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tongues: A Deeper Level of Serving God in Prayer


“…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” Ephesians 6: 18

“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 groaning 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.” Romans 8: 26-27

For he who prays in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. 1 Corinthians 14: 2

“…how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” 2 Corinthians 12: 4

“Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Revelation 5:8

Christians often fail to realize the real importance and necessity of prayer. Many remain at a shallow level in their prayer experience not realizing the depths that can be attained as they enter the presence of God. One of the mysteries of prayer is that people think they know what it is while in fact real prayer is probably one of the least understood of spiritual experiences. So many Christians have walked into the foyer and think they have experienced the whole house. Not only do they fail to actually enter the house itself, but they also fail to realize there are things to do in the house.

What God does on earth He accomplishes through the prayers of the saints. This is evident in all the Biblical exhortations to prayer. God has chosen us to be involved in His plan and has called us to work together with Him in His program for the earth. In the same way that the responsibility for the proclamation of the Gospel lies with the Church (rather than with angels), so also is the responsibility and privilege God has given the Church to help Him accomplish His purposes on earth through prayer. We can not say, "God will do what He wants to without me." We cannot say, "Whatever will be will be." This attitude fails to recognize our part in the process. It fails to recognize that God moves upon us through prayer, intercession, praise, and proclamation to help fulfill His plan. Whatever God does on earth is preceded by prayer somewhere. He shows us what He plans to do, and we pray it into its fulfillment.

In Daniel 9: 1-3, 16-19 God revealed to Daniel, through the writings of Jeremiah, that Israel would be delivered after seventy years of captivity. Daniel was among the captives when he received this revelation of God's will. He did not sit back and say, "Well, God is going to deliver us in a few years. So I can just relax and wait." On the contrary, once he saw God's plan and knew God's will, he began to fast and pray and seek God for its fulfillment. He worked together with God to help bring it about. Daniel 10 gives us a glimpse of the warfare in the heavenlies and shows us how our prayers help "give ammunition" to the heavenly hosts who fight with spirit-rulers or principalities and powers. (See also Ephesians 6:10-19).

Once we understand the principles just stated above, we can begin to realize the importance of praying in the Spirit. God wants to use us to pray and intercede for many things that He is doing around the world. He cannot inform us intellectually of everything He is doing, and He cannot let us know every detail of those wonders and mysteries He is accomplishing around the world. He does not even inform us of most of the details around our own lives. We would not be able to handle it. Therefore, tongues (the supernatural ability to pray in an unknown language by the Holy Spirit) is God's way of delivering Himself from man's limitedness and finiteness of language and intellect. Tongues allows the Holy Spirit to by-pass our natural minds and to pray directly through our spirits in behalf of those issues, events, and purposes which are beyond the realm of our comprehension or which are beyond the bounds of our need to know.

“If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays.” 1 Corinthians 14: 14

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Presence of Tongues in the New Testament Church

"Tongues" is the King James word for "languages". It is the supernatural ability to pray in another language (either earthly or heavenly) by means of the Holy Spirit. It is a working tool, an instrument of prayer, intercession, praise and worship. The Bible references below show us how pervasive was the presence of tongues in the early Christian church.

Tongues were present in the following settings:

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance.” ACTS 2:1-4

Samaria. ACTS 8: 14-19
We cannot be dogmatic here, but when these people received the Holy Spirit, Simon saw something beyond the joy, miracles, healings, and deliverance from demons that accompanied the salvation experiences in verses 5-8. He witnessed something that was new, real, and evident; otherwise, he would not have offered money to buy the power to distribute it. My personal opinion is that these people (following the pattern of  Acts 2:1-4, Acts 10: 44-48, Acts 19:1-7) prayed in tongues, prophesied, and began themselves to move in the supernatural power and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Cornelius' household
“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word…for they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.” ACTS 10: 44-48

The Church at Ephesus
“And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.” ACTS 19: 1-7

The Apostle Paul
“I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all.” 1 CORINTHIANS 14: 18
It is interesting to note that the book of Acts makes no reference at all to Paul's praying in tongues, yet from his writings it is evident that praying in tongues was a vital part of his Christian walk.

The Church at Corinth
“…Whenever you come together, each of you…has a tongue…” 1 CORINTHIANS 14: 26
The Book of Acts makes no mention of the Corinthians praying in tongues; yet it is obvious from the book of 1 Corinthians that they did pray in tongues and move in the gifts of the Spirit.

Praying in Tongues is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
1 CORINTHIANS 12: 7-11.
The Holy Spirit was at work among all the churches of the New Testament. Tongues is listed among the manifestations of the Spirit and, as such, was present  wherever the Spirit of God was at work in the early church.

Praying in tongues is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit set in the church by God Himself and was a common practice among early Christians. In future postings we will discuss in more detail the nature and purpose of this practical and positive tool the Lord has given to aid us in our spiritual walk.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Praying In The Holy Spirit

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all….to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, …” 1 Corinthians 12: 10.

1 Corinthians 12-14 makes it very clear that praying in tongues is one of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit and not some strange and useless phenomenon that the Corinthians contrived and sneaked into the church when God wasn’t looking. God placed this gift in the church as a practical and useful tool in the believer’s prayer life. Therefore, we must ask the question, “What does this mean for me?” This question should be answered in the articles that will be posted to this site in the days ahead.

In contemporary Christianity praying in tongues is often misrepresented, abused, ignored, and misunderstood. The traditional Pentecostal churches have tended to practice it only during an emotional high during worship services while failing to recognize it as a regular part of their daily and normal prayer life. Traditional denominational and evangelical churches have avoided the subject altogether or spoken harshly against the gift as a reaction to what they consider strange behavior in those who practice it. It is important, therefore, that we form our understanding based on principles expressed in the Bible verses themselves rather than forming our beliefs as a reaction to abuses. To form a doctrine on any subject, one must look at everything the Bible has to say on that subject and formulate a position that encompasses all the related scripture verses without excluding any. We err when we accept verses that support our position while ignoring or rejecting the verses we don’t like. This study will take into consideration all the related verses both positive and negative. Our goal is to understand what the New Testament Christians experienced and make that experience our own.

My objective is not to argue with or prove anything to those who disagree, but rather to encourage those who are already favorably disposed and to give them a clearer understanding of the very practical, useful, and spiritual purposes God intended when He set this manifestation of the Holy Spirit into the church. This study will help us understand its role in helping the believer to grow in spirit and enter the presence of God in a deeper experience of intercessory prayer and praise. We will see that praying in the Spirit is a positive and wonderful tool placed in the church by God Himself. We will discuss the nature and purpose of tongues and will attempt to answer many of the typical questions that are usually asked.

I will present this subject in a number of installments. I hope you will follow with me to the end of the series.

Billy Long

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A question to the reader

The fact that you have come to this site probably means you have a certain hunger for spiritual things. I wonder how many of you would be interested in an in-depth study on the subject of "Praying in the Spirit" or "Praying in Tongues?" The emphasis here would not be on cold doctrine, but rather with a view to helping us understand the vital role of this supernatural means of prayer in the daily practice of the New Testament church. The subject is misunderstood by so many Christians today, and a healthy understanding would be beneficial to those of you who would like to enter into the presence of God in a deeper experience of intercessory prayer and praise.

God wants to use us to pray and interceed for many things that He is doing around the world. He can not inform us intellectually of everything He is doing, and He can not let us know every detail of those wonders and mysteries He is accomplishing around the world. He can not even inform us of most of the details around our own lives. We would not be able to handle it. Therefore, praying in the Spirit is God's way of delivering Himself from man's limitedness and finiteness of language and intellect. Tongues allows the Holy Spirit to by-pass our natural minds and to pray directly through our spirits in behalf of those issues, events, and purposes which are beyond the realm of our comprehension or which are beyond the bounds of our need to know.

In an attempt to have a more contemporary atmosphere many traditional denominational churches have become more relaxed and informal in their worship style and more lively in their praise songs, while many Charismatic churches, in an attempt to be more seeker sensitive,have become less demonstrative in the gifts and supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit. The result is that there are many churches around the country that have a lot of life and joy, but are still lacking in expression of God's presence in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit.
This is especially true in the arena of praying in the spirit.

I am considering beginning a series of articles with some very practical teaching on the subject. If you are interested, either click "comment" below and share your thoughts, or send me an email at

Billy Long