praying in tongues
My Salvation,  Spiritual Gifts

Praying In Tongues vs Speaking In Tongues: A Biblical Guide

praying in tonguesWhen I first learned how to pray in tongues, I was really unaware that it was a form of prayer. All I knew about tongues is that it was a heavenly language from God that I could not understand. I did not realize that there was a difference between speaking in tongues and praying in tongues. So I naturally assumed that all tongues was speaking in tongues. The gift began to form in me naturally, and allowed the Holy Spirit to guide me in this gift.

Many people seem to have a fear of the gift of tongues, so I decided to get deep into scripture to try to better understand what God says about this heavenly language. I believe the fear is based off of false teachings, that are spread by the lies of the devil. As you will see here, tongues is a powerful weapon in our tool belt; one that every believer must employ. Most of my study is based off of 1 Corinthians 14, however I did find some other valuable passages that teach about speaking in tongues, as well as praying in tongues.

The language of tongues is a spiritual gift, and it comes from the Holy Spirit. Each Christian will receive a gift from the Spirit of God, to be used for the good of all. The Holy Spirit is the one who determines who gets what gift and when. The Apostle Paul says we should all desire to receive spiritual gifts, and wishes that we would all speak in tongues. When a person speaks in tongues, they are speaking not to men, but to God Himself. No one understands tongues, because it is a mystery to the human mind.

For by people of strange lips and with a foreign tongue the LORD will speak to this people

Isaiah 28:11

Speaking in tongues is a role assigned to a member of the body to deliver messages to the church. These messages are to be spoken in love to edify the church body. When giving a message in tongues, there needs to be order and purpose in the church meeting. So there needs to be a structured time set aside for the purpose of giving a message in tongues.

During the church meeting, only 2 or 3 people should give a message in tongues. Only one person should speak at a time, and each message should come with an interpretation. It is important to have order when allowing messages from God to be spoken in tongues, as to not create confusion among the church. The Apostle Paul is very specific in his guidelines for speaking in tongues.

Tongues can also be used as a sign for unbelievers. When an unbeliever walks in to a room where tongues is being spoken, it can be a sign to them of the power of God and bring them into His presence. Just like at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came onto the disciples and they began speaking in tongues, it encouraged many others to come to Christ.

While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.  And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.  For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared,  “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”  And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. 

Acts 10:44-48

However, according to 1 Corinthians 14, praying in tongues is when your spirit prays. Praying in tongues is a person’s prayer language, and it is not to be confused with speaking in tongues. Praying in tongues, as well as singing or worshiping in tongues is used to edify ourselves. We can use this prayer language when we are unable to find words to pray, because we are too weak. God knows our hearts and as we use this heavenly language to communicate with Him, the Holy Spirit can intercede on our behalf.

Praying in tongues is also very useful when praying for other believers. Whether interceding on their behalf, or praying for a person directly, praying in tongues can speak to the depths of the human spirit. It can edify their soul and spirit in ways that human words cannot, because the words come directly from the Father to touch those deep places that are aching. Many times someone has prayed in tongues over me and I just begin weeping because it touches me in such deep ways. Even though my mind has no idea what is being said, my spirit knows and is deeply affected!

Praying in the spirit is a wonderful way to grow closer to God and connect with Him on deeper levels. It is also a part of the armor of God. According to Ephesians 6:18, praying in the spirit helps strengthen us in our battle against the evil one. Prayer is a major part of our armor and needs to be done daily, and I believe that praying in tongues activates our armor! Without praying in tongues, our armor is incomplete.

Much like praying in tongues,  singing in tongues is the same type of thing. It goes hand in hand with the praise and worship of our prayers, in a language directed by the Holy Spirit. There have even been scientific studies done that show how tongues affects our brains. Check this video out to learn more.

“And it shall come to pass afterward,
    that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    your old men shall dream dreams,
    and your young men shall see visions.”

Joel 2:28

Once Jesus returns, we will no longer need the gift of tongues. It will be unnecessary because we will have Jesus Himself with us. He will directly communicate with us in ways we have never experienced before. Tongues was born out of the desperate need for man to communicate with God, yet when Jesus returns, all of our desperation will be turned into completion and fulfillment. So until then, we need to continue to be led by the Spirit, and walk how He guides us.

Jesus wants so very much for us to be a part of Him. That is why He gave us this important language. If we take the gift of tongues for granted without thoroughly pressing in to Jesus to allow Him to teach us, we are instead allowing the enemy to shape our hearts and minds. Jesus only gives us good gifts, and the devil would very much love to steal, kill and destroy them all. The gifts of the spirit bring the Kingdom of Heaven down to earth among the people. That is the intention God had when He created them.

Each gift is special and unique with a special purpose assigned to it. God wants us to lay down everything that we have allowed the world to teach us about God, and instead empty ourselves so we can be filled with His truth. God has a great plan and purpose for each one of us, no matter where we are right now. Allow God into your heart, so He can be the one to answer all of your questions, and break down all the lies. He is good.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part,  but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10