The Bible has a lot to say about tongues. It is one of the few topics where God has devoted a whole Bible chapter on it (1 Cor 14) so we can learn to operate it more effectively.
First of all, whatever tongues are, we are commanded to seek to speak in tongues.
1 Cor 12:31 “But covet earnestly the best gifts [all of them, whatever you need or can do now as well as the others you do not do now, all nine of them, including tongues]: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way [of agape/love so that this love is the driving factor that causes you to seek good for the current need by exercising the manifestations of Holy Spirit that helps to bring that good into manifestation for people’s good].”
1 Cor 14:1 “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts [all of them which includes unknown tongues], but rather that ye may prophesy.”
1 Cor 14:5 “I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
1 Cor 14:18 “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all.”
1 Cor 14:39 “Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.”
There seem to be three basic types of tongues.
1. Contemporary languages but never learned by the speaker
2. Languages not contemporary or languages of angels
3. Known or existing language tongue that is prayer or prophesy/utterances – this is hard to separate from prophecy
There appear to be two major places to speak them.
1. Public in a meeting or with any number of other people
a. Tongues + interpretation = prophesy
b. Personal in a group, people can hear you, and possibly disturbing others
2. Private in personal prayer and worship
a. No one else around – and you speak in tongues softly, medium or loud, hard and fast.
b. In your mind/very softy under your breath so others do not know you are praying in tongues
There appear to a variety of manifestations.
1. Words (range from in head, soft words/muttering to loud shouts)
2. Song (in head and out loud at any volume)
3. Praise, thanksgiving, rejoicing, prophesying and dancing
4. With or without joy, laughter and dancing
5. Ecstatic – being overcome and speaking almost as if forced to
6. The words spoken or sung of those in a group all appear to be different
7. When singing in tongues in a group, the melodies may be similar, yet the combined, melodies sound like a super choir
Christians have experienced some practices:
1. Singing in a group like a choir (tongues the language of angels?)
2. Waking up at night during sleep and speaking/singing in tongues
3. Going to bed speaking in tongues
4. Waking up at regular times speaking in tongues
5. Praying in tongues while the leader speaks in English
6. Interior urging to speak in tongues
Impact of tongues
1. See immediate answer to prayer
2. Do not see immediate answer to prayer
3. Get a revelation or “word” to know what to do next (right away or later)
4. Sense of increased strength, awareness, direction, energy or peace (right away or later).
Ecstatic tongues are where the person loses some control or all control (robot mode). The person usually sings, dances, and prophesies (mostly praises to God) where they are overcome and seem not to have a choice. This ecstatic type is illustrated in the Old Testament. First with Saul before he became king and Samuel tells him:
1 Sam 10:5 “After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy: 6 And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man (act very differently).
Ecstatic episodes also saved David when Saul came looking to kill him. Here God used this to save David by having his attackers be overcome of the spirit and prophesy (includes dancing, singing, and rejoicing).
1 Sam 19:20 “And Saul sent messengers to take David: and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as appointed over them, the Spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. 21 And when it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they prophesied likewise. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they prophesied also. 22 Then went he also to Ramah, and came to a great well that is in Sechu: and he asked and said, Where are Samuel and David? And one said, Behold, they be at Naioth in Ramah. 23 And he went thither to Naioth in Ramah: and the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied, until he came to Naioth in Ramah. 24 And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Wherefore they say, Is Saul also among the prophets?”
Saul sent three groups and then came himself. Here all 4 groups were overcome with ecstatic events that overcome them and controlled them so that they could no longer hunt for David. This appeared to be a very nice way to disable those who sought to kill David, but it did not change the attacker’s attitude toward God or man. As soon as the Spirit left they went back to looking for David to kill him. So this kind of event, with tongues, is a very low-level of spirituality or spiritual maturity as there is not much impact on the one who experience such an ecstatic state. Nor was it about the piety of the attackers, but more about God getting something done.
The type of tongues on the Day of Pentecost appears to have been the ecstatic type where the 120 were overcome and went out praising God. The people from many different lands heard their own language as they spoke in tongues. From the scriptures it could be that either the tongues was in the language of the hearer’s, or the hearers were gifted with interpretation to understand the tongues in their own languages. The inference is that those speaking did not all have the same tongue language. It could have been one or the other or a combination. Since then both kinds of events have been experienced by Christians.
Acts 2:4 “And they were all (120 per verse Act 1:15) filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.”
I have been speaking in tongues for some 35 years and I am not aware that I have ever done ecstatic tongues or that those hearing me heard it in their own language. There may have been many, but I never heard anyone telling me that I spoke and they understood the language. Others have reported both tongues that were in a modern language, but one they never learned. And others have reported that they understood what was being said and they at that time were not Christians, as the person spoke in tongues.
I think Paul included speaking and singing in tongues as part of praying in tongues.
1 Cor 14:14 “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.”
One big message of 1 Cor 14 is that the tongues Paul is talking about are not ecstatic type and that in the church type events always under the control of the one speaking. Notice he says “I will pray,” and “I will sing.” The decision process is the same if you prayed or sang in your own language or with the spirit in tongues with the language of angels. In all cases here, it is a decision, not an unction or overwhelming desire.
1 Cor 14:32 “And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.”
But the inference is that those speaking in tongues or prophesying thought that they were ecstatic and they were not in control. So Paul is telling them not to let it get uncontrollable.
Now I have met people who were taught the only way to speak in tongues was when they were “overcome” and they saw no issue with interrupting a meeting and no interpretations was forthcoming. But I have never done that as I recall. The teaching in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 focus on individual choice and resistance to being “overcome” when it is out-of-order.
Paul states that he in his personal time prayed in tongues (speak and sing) more that all the people in that Corinthian church. So he definitely prayed in tongues hours per day. Consider, if there were 100 people and they prayed 15 minutes in church, then that is 1,500 minutes or about 25 hours. If there were 200 people, then that is about 50 hours, and if they prayed 30 minutes it would be 100 hours for 200 people. 25 hours over 7 days is 3.4 hours per day, and 100 hours is 14 hours a day just to match them. And to do more than them, Paul would have to do a lot more to say “more than ye all.” So between 2 and 15 hours a day would fit with Paul’s statement.
1 Cor 14:18 “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: 19 yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.”
I think it would be safe to say that if these numbers are even close, then tongues had a large part to do with Paul’s ministry.
1 Corinthians 14 talks about public tongues and their misuse. So tongues, while from God, are at your command for public or private use. For me it is usually a decision to pray in tongues. I may have had strong “unction” to pray in tongues, but I felt I could have said no. Since I am not aware of ever having said no, or being overcome, I am not sure what prevailed.
1 Cor 14:14 “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.”
In tongues it is Holy Spirit using you to speak the words He needs to get things done. Your understanding is not involved.
Dr. Andrew Newberg of the University of Pennsylvania has done scans of nuns in “ecstatic” tongue speaking, and he saw that the vocal control parts of the brain were not active. So the source of the words was not the typical source for regular speech. The statement that your spirit or Holy Spirit, or in the case of demons speaking though you, the standard speech centers are not activated. He calls some of his findings and interpretations Neurotheology and using tools called neuro-imaging to see these effects. Also Dr. Newberg noted that in those ecstatic tongues did not produce the same kinds of scans in experienced Tibetan monks in meditation. So biblical tongues is different from Oriental meditation and comes from a different source. In tongues the source it not the person (as we understand it scientifically right now).
Note oriental meditation is a process of emptying the mind to get “insight.”
Biblical meditation is the exact opposite of oriental meditation, where instead of emptying your mind, you fill your mind with verses, chapter or whole books of the Bible, and repeat continually by decision.
What I do know is that unless I ask for interpretation, I usually do not know what I am saying in speaking or singing in tongues. Since much of my “tongue time” is also listening to good Bible teaching or Scripture, driving or less complicated tasks, my mind is usually not as involved. If I focus on the tongues they tend to get more intense, even louder if the situation allows. If I focus on what I am listening to in teaching, Scripture songs or Scripture, then I tend to speak tongues more in the background and therefore quieter and less forceful.
At times I have prayed in tongues all day and not listened to anything. When thinking of others, or looking at a prayer list, and praying in tongues, I seem to recall a greater sense of “connection” with those I am praying for. But I had to work on staying focused with a name list or situation list handy. I call this ministry or directed prayer tongues. I tend to stay on each item as feels right to me. So some are short, others longer, or even all day.
Many think tongues are either for private use only, or public use only. Both are valid. Here it seems that Paul is talking about a mix of public and private tongues.
1 Cor 14:2 “For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men [public], but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries [public or private].”
1 Cor 14:4 “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself [public or private]; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church [public benefit from God]. 5 I would that ye all spake with tongues [private or public] …”
Here the purpose of tongues that is not prophesy is to edify the person speaking in tongues, and Paul (Holy Spirit) wants all to pray in tongues. This could include participation in public tongues and interpretation = prophesy for edification of others. Dr. Lake and Curry Blake say that speaking in personal tongues loud, hard and fast is a way to build spiritual power and confidence in God when combined with Scripture. I have also experienced this.
Here we are told that praying in the Spirit builds up our ability to believe or have confidence in God.
Jude 20 “But ye, agape/beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost (tongues), 21 keep yourselves in the agape/love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal zoe/life.”
So tongues combined with Scripture reading or listening can be a way to build faith for a more effective Christ-like walk.
Some Christians say I glow in the dark. That is what they say, but not everyone sees it, and neither do I. I guess a 5th way for tongues is in church or prayer meetings where we may pray or sing in the Spirit, usually in a medium voice. I love to pray in tongues as I read the Bible and occasionally as I read good, biblically accurate books.
Benefits of tongues are they build me up in my most holy faith and open me to the love of God. Lots of praying in tongues increases my ability to believe the impossible things of God and so I get to do and see more miracles.
My physical tongue sometimes gets sore from lots of praying in tongues. Spiritually when I do loud, hard and fast tongues, I can feel my spirit in my chest area rise up and it is like my spirit is stirred up. To get there usually takes me at least 5-20 minutes. Loud, hard and fast tongues also builds me up physically – it is work, especially if done while walking. So regular loud, hard and fast tongues for hours at a time, builds me up both spiritually and physically.
When I am at church or prayer meetings, I usually pray in tongues for the preacher silently or under my breath during the meeting. I see a variety of effects. Sometimes I see or am aware of nothing. The preachers may start to preach more Scripture with more accurate interpretations, various spiritual attacks are thwarted, or witches in the congregation will start to have “problems” with me. I keep blessing anyway. Often the godly spiritual power in the meeting increases. Other times it seems to incite the demons to frustration and manifestation. Then I direct my natural language and/or tongues to get the people free.
I do not typically do tongues and interpretations in a group setting. I do get interpretations, by asking if none from anyone else seems to be forthcoming, and I do prophesy also.
Another benefit of tongues is it lets me know that God is there. I sometimes wonder if it is really God or not. He usually persuades me by a variety of means. But if I keep to my regular goal of 2 hours a day I have/tolerate less questioning thoughts. For more spiritual power, I up it to more loud, hard and fast, and aim for 3-6 hours.
It seems to me that 2 hours of tongues strengthens me for 2-3 days in most peaceful or normal conditions. Other times, 2 hours is only “good” for about 15 minutes of intense situations.
I am always aware of what I am doing, and do not go into any “ecstatic modes.” I don’t look for them or avoid them. I guess if I asked for some, I would get them. When I ask, I do get interpretations of them and sometimes slip back and forth into English.
I have never been aware of tongue results in healing like commanding in English. I have seen people die while the whole group prayed for days in tongues without any aiteo commanding prayer. I know others do feel like they get “commanding” tongues and do see results.
I do experience songs of deliverance that seem to impact me and others I am specifically praying for. I may go from speaking to singing to English and back and forth. Thank you, Jack Hayford.
Ps 32:7 “Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.”
Often in a prayer battle, if one is leading I may join in with tongues rather than praises or echoing their commands. I am aware often that I am ministering to others at a distance as I pray in tongues. I once raised a dead baby that way and found out about it from the parents later, but as I became aware of the battle in the Spirit, I switched to English and commanded life and told death to go in the name of Jesus. That battle seemed to last about 15-30 minutes as I recall. But as I started in tongues and only finished in English, the English part was 5-10 minutes. So not sure what part tongues played in that battle except to stir me up and/or make me more aware.
I heard one person say tongues was like spiritual java, it works them up. I know I use tongues to get myself stirred up before I pray. John Lake said there were two elements in healing, faith and power. You get faith from the Word and power from tongues or praising God, affirmations, proclamations, etc. Dr. Lake said tongues made his ministry, so you know he prayed in tongues a lot, throughout the day, and often late into the night.
The more tongues I do, the more bold I seem to be, especially in street ministry. Also if ministering to a large crowd, and the immediate miracles seem to slow down, I will take a break and do loud, hard and fast tongues, or even alternate between that and worshiping type tongues until I feel ready to go again. I may invite others in the crowd to do the same, but that is not always possible, so I depend on myself and not the crowd. This can take 3-20 minutes of tongues.
Unless I am “aiming” my tongues at a particular issue, I am simply letting Holy Spirit do “His thing,” and use me. Usually I feel like I am thanking or praising when I sing in tongues, but occasionally that has also turned to commanding type tongues.
Other results are in my business life where I have gone into impossible situations, and by praying in tongues, along with affirmation magnets, ended up doing the right things. This is daily tongues, not just one time events. So I would say the benefit was the Lord got me to do the right things, but I could not explain how I did it. The right things just came to me “naturally” without following some plan.
I do most of my praying in tongues in the car listening to good teaching. So whenever I get in my car or anyone else’s, I’ll start praying in tongues either out loud, if by myself, or silently if there are others.
The overall results is my life so far, now at age 65, which is pretty cool. I’ve done things people only dream about, my business results have rarely been equaled, and in ministry I have had some significant events, and I have a lot more coming. So while I live, and until the Lord comes, Holy Spirit tongues – private & public – will always be part of me.
Dr. John Lake stated that tongues was the making of his ministry. One key that he developed was tongues and interpretation for ministry. Lake would pray in tongues all day, so he probably got those 3-6 hours or more in a day. After a while, he would speak in tongues for a while, and then ask God for the interpretation, and he would use that as his basis for his sermons. This was either notes to follow, or major sections of text. I do similar for my books and other writings.
Lake suspected this was how the Apostle Paul developed his revelations of the work of redemption in Jesus. After all, Paul spoke in tongues, “more than ye all.” Others prophesy by first “stirring” themselves up with tongues, and then speaking. So the effect is one of tongues, interpretation and prophesy, all mixed together. I have some videos showing Tim Storey doing the same kind of thing in a healing ministry. So we are talking tongues first, then ministry, then periods of tongues during the ministry, all intermingled.
Early in his ministry, Oral Roberts would spend hours walking in Tulsa praying in tongues. As he did, God showed him many things, including where and how to build his church and schools. For most of his ministry, whenever he had problems, issues or opportunity in his ministry, he would pray in tongues for long periods before making any decisions.
I do similar, but sometimes it is hard to say, “I’ll answer in a few days,” and then actually spend the time I need in tongues. Over the years I have proven to myself, a lack of tongues does not mean less troubles, but it does mean less godly responses in myself and others, and absolutely more better decisions, not to mention more love to others.
I consider tongues a vital part of my life, and definitely one of my spiritual disciplines. Another is using tongues to practice the presence of God and stirring myself in the dominion of Jesus, especially to dominate devil works to destroy them with the name of Jesus. Here this may be a combination of muttering various Scriptures and then moving back and forth into tongues as I do. As Curry Blake says, “It is not so much the words you pray, but you knowing you are connected to God continually for, with and in Him.”
Refreshing: Another benefit of tongues is refreshing and restoring of your soul. Smith Wigglesworth once said something like this, “I take a vacation every day as I speak in tongues until I am once again refreshed and encouraged.”
This is based on where Paul is explaining the value of Holy Spirit tongues:
1 Cor 14:21 “In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.”
And this is an excerpt from this Old Testament teaching on tongues.:
Isa 28:11 “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. 12 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.”
This suggests that failure to speak in tongues on a regular basis leads to spiritual overload, frustration and poor decisions. Many pray for refreshing while God has placed it in our hands – oraissedr tongues.
We are destroyed, walk in failure, fear and confusion, by lack of knowledge and lies, not some administrative decision by God. As Jesus said we will know the truth if we stay in His word, then any problem is a shortage of grace and truth. We already have all the power there is in Holy Spirit in us, the issue is getting into enough agreement in Him with grace and truth so He can do the good He so desires to do through you.
God is no respecter of persons. His ways are like the laws of science. Do the right things and you will get the right results; do anything different and you will be unhappy sooner or later. Digital Universe.
Evil works inspired and powered by the devil are no match for the Living God, but they sure tempt fleshly leaky neurons, even in those spiritually righteous.
There are no wrong answers here, only seek more of Jesus who already paid for every failure we ever made, are now making, or will make. Since He was healed of it, so are you.
It will be shameful for you to show up on the Day of Judgment and see that every hardness of heart was already healed and waiting for you to do the right labour to get that hardness of heart healing already done in Jesus.
A Bible not devoured is like bags of seed stored away. The potential of God into the Earth is there, but never a harvest is made. Jesus is the Seed. The only soil that matters is your heart.
Keep Working the Word so God can Work!
God Bless You and Yours in the Name of Jesus to be more Noble in Him (Acts 17:11-12)
Jesus is Lord of Heaven and Earth!