1 Corinthians 14:1-12
14 Follow the way of love. You should also want the gifts the Holy Spirit gives. Most of all, you should want the gift of prophecy. 2 Anyone who speaks in a language they had not known before doesn’t speak to people. They speak only to God. In fact, no one understands them. What they say by the Spirit remains a mystery. 3 But the person who prophesies speaks to people. That person prophesies to make people stronger, to give them hope, and to comfort them. 4 Anyone who speaks in other languages builds up only themselves. But the person who prophesies builds up the church. 5 I would like all of you to speak in other languages. But I would rather have you prophesy. The person who prophesies is more helpful than those who speak in other languages. But that is not the case if someone explains what was said in the other languages. Then the whole church can be built up. 6 Brothers and sisters, suppose I were to come to you and speak in other languages. What good would I be to you? None! I would need to come with new truth or knowledge. Or I would need to come with a prophecy or a teaching. 7 Here are some examples. Certain objects make sounds. Take a flute or a harp. No one will know what the tune is unless different notes are played. 8 Also, if the trumpet call isn’t clear, who will get ready for battle? 9 It’s the same with you. You must speak words that people understand. If you don’t, no one will know what you are saying. You will just be speaking into the air. 10 It is true that there are all kinds of languages in the world. And they all have meaning. 11 But if I don’t understand what someone is saying, I am a stranger to the person speaking. And that person is a stranger to me. 12 It’s the same with you. You want the gifts of the Spirit. So try to do your best in using gifts that build up the church.
I didn’t grow up in a pentecostal family and I was saved in a church that was cautious about supernatural gifts. Then I went to a church that taught that supernatural spiritual gifts were only around while the Apostles (defined as people who had met Jesus in the flesh) were still alive.
When I look back, I don’t fully understand why, but I seemed to have no problem with the notion that through Christ, people could be healed and even raised from death. I could accept that people had special revelations of the future and special insights into the lives of others for encouragement and correction, but I couldn’t get what speaking in tongues was all about.
I was given some really wise advice. It was suggested to me that I pray about it and seek God.
So I did. I prayed out loud that if speaking in tongues was legit, I wanted confirmation. I prayed in English for probably less than 5 minutes and then found myself talking in a language I didn’t understand. I could start it and stop it, so it was under my control, but I didn’t know the meaning of the words.
But I did somehow have a sense of what I was saying. It was vague, but I knew the gist of what I was saying and it was blessing after blessing of praise towards God. Powerful words deeper with meaning and more insightful than I could craft in my wisest moment.
From that point, I understood the purpose of this type of “tongue” as a private prayer language. My spirit intertwined with the Holy Spirit can communicate with God infinitely better than my brain. When I pray with English words, I can do good in me and I can encourage others. But my spiritual language takes it to another level!
Written by Ps Justin Ware