Speaking in Tongues
The Church uses multiple phrases to describe the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Some people call it speaking in tongues, praying in the spirit, praying in tongues, and even a personal prayer language. But these phrases all describe the very same thing. When we speak in tongues, we use a language enabled by the Spirit that cannot be understood by the natural mind. These prayers come from our spirit straight to the Spirit of God, using our natural lips, tongues and voices.
Praying in the spirit is one of the most powerful tools we have in our arsenal as believers to live out abundant life. It brings wisdom and revelation, and confidence in praying the perfect will of God. Speaking in tongues fosters intimacy with Him, among many other benefits! Paul wrote that he thanked God that he prayed in tongues more than anyone (1 Cor. 14:18), and he wrote two-thirds of the New Testament! I doubt that is a coincidence.
What is Holding You Back?
Knowing the benefits of praying in tongues is a first step, but beginning to do so can sometimes be challenging. If you feel discouraged because you have the desire to pray in tongues, and haven’t yet been able, you are not alone. Although it only took Ashley a few months, it took me about twelve years!
Some of us begin to speak in tongues right away, but for others it may take a little while. Yet, we can be sure that it isn’t the Lord that is withholding from us. In my case, no one taught me about the Holy Spirit. So, I had a lot of natural fear regarding speaking in tongues. It was as though I had a mental block, even though I desired it. I really struggled to overcome those things. In fact, I went down to the altar probably ten times, and not once did I ever pray in the spirit! I felt like it was my fault, that I was doing something wrong, that something in me was broken.
Finally, I just shut myself in my room and said, “I am not leaving this room until I speak in tongues—I’m not letting one word of English leave my mouth!” I think that was my breakthrough, because although it wasn’t a conscious thing, I didn’t realize that I was the one who had to open my mouth, use my lips, my tongue, my voice and choose to speak.
The Choice to Speak in Tongues is Yours
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:4 NKJV
The Holy Spirit will not force Himself on us! We have to choose to speak out, in faith. Acts 2:4 says that those present at Pentecost began to speak. They spoke, but the Spirit gave them the ability. If you have taken the first step in asking Jesus to baptize you with the Holy Spirit, then He has given you the ability that you need. Now, in faith, it is time for you to begin to release the spiritual words He has placed within you.
Some people may start with just a few little syllables. That is exactly what I did, as I sat there on my bed. I began with just tiny little sounds, and I thought, What is that? That’s not even a word, that’s like baby babble! Well, it can be like a small child learning to speak. I was speaking “spiritual baby babble” for a while, but I did it in faith!
My natural mind tried to tell me I was just making it up, that it wasn’t real, and even that I was doing it wrong. I told the Lord, “I don’t know if this is really my prayer language or not; it doesn’t sound very sophisticated.” But I just continued praying in the spirit in faith, and eventually those little sounds and syllables turned into words, and those words turned into sentences.
Trust the Lord, and just keep going. Truly, we can’t mess this up: it is a gift from God!
Jude 20 teaches us that through praying in the spirit we are actually building ourselves up in faith. This should be a part of our everyday life! Our series entitled Everyday Faith is a fifteen-part, power-packed teaching series that not only addresses the subject of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in depth, but will help you discover what faith actually is and how you can use it in your life—every day!