In my last article, I defined speaking in tongues as speaking a language you have never learned, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Tongues is a gift of the Spirit that is often misunderstood. One of the reasons for this is that there several purposes for it.
One of the purposes for tongues is that it can be used in your personal prayer life. This is sometimes referred to as having a prayer language. The apostle Paul speaks of this concept in 1 Corinthians 14:
“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. Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified. I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” (1 Corinthians 14:14-19)
Speaking in tongues is appropriate in a group setting when it is accompanied by interpretation, when all who are present are aware of what it is, or when it is done in a quiet and non-distracting way. But in this passage Paul is referring to praying in tongues privately. And it is clear from the passage that he practiced praying privately in tongues quite often. Notice also that he speaks of praying and singing in tongues at will. “I will pray with the spirit…” Once you have received this gift, you can pray at any time in unknown tongues.
Why pray in tongues? Why incorporate this practice into your personal prayer life? Below are four good reasons to pray in tongues often.
1. Speaking in tongues builds you up spiritually
In 1 Corinthians 14:4, Paul says that “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself.” In Jude vs. 20 it says that when we pray in the Holy Spirit, we are building ourselves up in faith. While praying in tongues might not be the only aspect of praying in the Spirit, it is certainly included. Praying in tongues strengthens you in your spirit, builds your faith, and increases your spiritual capacity. It can open the door to functioning in other gifts of the Spirit and make you more sensitive to the Holy Spirit it general. It is a great way to draw near to God.
2. Speaking in tongues gives thanks and praise to God
In the first passage quoted above, Paul states that the one who is praying in tongues “give thanks well.” On the day of Pentecost, the people heard the disciples “speaking the wonderful works of God” in their own languages (see Acts 2:11). When we pray in tongues, sometimes it is an overflow of thanksgiving and praise to God.
3. Speaking in tongues is intercession according to God’s will
The Bible says that we do not always know what to pray for as we ought to, but that the Spirit helps in our weakness and prays through us according to God’s will (see Romans 8:26-27). Praying in tongues can be a powerful form of intercessory prayer. What an incredible gift to be able to pray in the Spirit and intercede according to God’s will, even when we do not know what we are saying!
4. Speaking in tongues is spiritual warfare against the enemy
When the apostle Paul listed the armor of God, he concluded with praying in the Spirit as a key part of our weaponry (see Ephesians 6:18). Sometimes when we pray in tongues, we are engaging in spiritual battle against demonic forces and powers of darkness. I have observed on multiple occasions when casting out demons that evil spirits do not like tongues! Praying in tongues is a mighty weapon of spiritual warfare.
If you have received your prayer language, I encourage you to pray in tongues often. Build it into your devotional times, but also use it throughout the day. One of the benefits of speaking in tongues is that you can do it even when you are engaged in other activities. Even though you do not understand what you are saying, rest assured that you are building up your spirit, giving God thanks and praise, and impacting things in the spiritual realm!