Praying in tongues is an amazing and precious gift. It seems many churches have tried to shy away from it, hiding it in the back room, leaving it only to intercessory prayer meetings or counseling sessions. Some leaders may seem to apologize for it even though it is a biblical truth and is for today, trying to keep it a secret even though it was first seen publicly on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
First Corinthians 13 is known as the "love chapter" and is most often read at weddings. Even though it is a beautiful chapter, its context is referring to spiritual gifts and not marriage. This chapter was sandwiched in between chapters 12 and 14, which discuss the proper use of God's awesome gifts.
This love chapter describes what our attitude and motivation is to be in using spiritual gifts. Verses 8-9 say, "Love never fails. But if there are prophecies, they shall fail; if there are tongues, they shall cease; and if there is knowledge, it shall vanish. But when that which is perfect comes, then that which is imperfect shall pass away." Some people refer to these verses, saying that spiritual gifts ceased and were only for the first-century church. But as these verses say, spiritual gifts will cease when "that which is perfect comes."
Some might argue that "the perfect" refers to the completed canon of Scripture, but it's more likely that it refers to Christ Himself, since verse 12 says, "For now we see as through a glass, dimly, but then, face to face." Therefore, the spiritual gifts will cease only when Jesus returns. Some people may see this interpretation as a stretch, but if we take the entire context of the epistle of 1 Corinthians into consideration, this is hinted at in 1:7-8, where Paul tells them that he gives thanks for them, "so that you are not lacking in any gift while waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ." He will strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." And that day is when He comes back for His church.
The gift of tongues is an incredible spiritual gift, as they all are, and we are to develop our spiritual language after Jesus gives it to us (Matt. 3:11, Luke 3:16, Acts 1:8). The apostle Paul is a great model for us to follow, as he taught that tongues were not a one-time or occasional matter, but it was a lifestyle. In 1 Corinthians 14:18 he said, "I thank my God that I speak in tongues more than you all." This should be the same in our lives and churches. This should not be just a summer camp experience or a special, once-a-year church service, but it should be applied to our daily lives.
Some people have come to me after a few weeks of being baptized in the Holy Spirit and seem discouraged saying that they only repeat the same few words in tongues that they received when they were first filled with the Spirit. But I let them know that they are on the right track and need to continue in it, because it's about to grow.
I explain to them that when we were children, we grew our language through repetition, learning words or phrases, adding them to our vocabulary. Thus, as we pray and repeat the words or phrases in tongues the Holy Spirit gave us, our spiritual language will grow and develop. Whether we are driving, walking down the street, or in our prayer closet, we should use every opportunity we can to pray in tongues, worshiping God using this incredible gift.
It's a process of time and growth as we pray in the tongues of men and angels (1 Cor. 13:1). And praying in tongues is personally edifying as Paul said, "He who speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself" (1 Cor 14:4a). We should be excited that we pray and worship Him and build ourselves up through the gift of tongues, connecting with Him on a personal level in a supernatural way.
We should also sing in tongues in our times alone with God. First Corinthians 14:15 says, "I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding." This is a key to developing our spiritual language and in learning how to interpret them as we pray and sing in this gift. We can all do this at home by incorporating praying and singing in tongues during our personal time with God. Then we can ask God to give us the interpretation of what we just prayed and sang. As His wonderful Spirit gives us the interpretation, we should write it down in our journal and keep it between us and Him as we praise Him in it (1 Cor 14:16).
May you continue to grow and develop in love toward God and others as your spiritual language soars to new heights in the Spirit of God.
Jared Laskey is starting Destiny Open Bible Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and is a contributing writer to Charisma. He lives to see Jesus awaken this generation to the power of His Holy Spirit. You can follow him on Twitter @jaredalaskey, or contact him through his website, firebornministries.org.
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