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.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much, Billy. This ole Southern Baptist preacher certainly appreciates someone who uses the Scriptures when discussing the "charismata". Especially when he uses the Scriptures so faithfully. Ellen and I surely do miss you guys!!!
Bob Shearer

Anonymous said...

Good reminder Billy...thanks for putting the teaching together in typed form...

Anonymous said...

Wonderful insights as usual. It stirred me up Billy to pray in tongues more. Pray with me for a healing from a bad staph infection.Love and blessings.
Linda H.

Anonymous said...

You make it so easy to understand. My goal is also to walk as the early Christians and be more like Jesus every day.