Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. (Ephesians 6:18 AMPC)
But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. (Jude 1:20–21 NIV)
Throughout the New Testament, there is mention of “praying in the Spirit” which is the same as praying in “an unknown tongue.” Dr. Andrew B. Newberg, a neuroscientist, Professor, and Director at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, did a study of the brain and compared brain scans of Buddhist monks and Franciscan nuns praying in their normal way, against the brain scans of people who were praying in the Spirit. The study showed that the frontal lobe of those praying in the Spirit was mostly dormant while the monks and nuns who were praying in their own language, the traditional way, had a normal level of frontal lobe activity. The frontal lobe region of the brain is where the “language center” resides. Even those who uttered gibberish showed activity in this part of the brain. This study concluded that when people were “praying in the Spirit,” it wasn’t coming from their own mind.
The following three scriptures in the book of Mark mention the “gift of the Spirit.” Some people combine these scriptures to show that you must have an unknown tongue as a sign that you are truly a Christian:
He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; ... (Mark 16:16-18 AKJV)
While Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost, for they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. (Acts 10:44-46 AKJV)
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied. (Acts 19:5-6 AKJV)
There is a common thread to all three of these times when people spoke in “unknown tongues:”
- This happened when they were hearing about Jesus for the first time.
The gift of Tongues was a sign to confirm to those who didn’t believe that something had occurred. In the Book of Mark, when the “new tongue” is mentioned, it is grouped in with casting out demons (devils) and not being harmed when picking up poisonous serpents. This further confirms that “unknown tongues” is one of the signs that should accompany evangelism when speaking to people about the Lord who have never heard of Him.
We cannot have separate rules for the items in the list Mark gives us. If we are not casting out demons, does that mean we are not a Christian? Of course not! Then we cannot say that just because you are not speaking in an unknown tongue that your status with the Lord is invalid. This is confirmed in 1 Corinthians 14 where Paul discusses tongues at length:
Why tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not..(1 Corinthians 14:22 AKJV)
Paul points out that not all Christians will have the gift of the heavenly language:
I would that you all spoke with tongues but rather that you prophesied: for greater is he that prophesies than he that speaks with tongues, except he interprets, that the church may receive edifying. (1 Corinthians 14:5 AKJV)
The Greek word thelō (the’ lo) is translated “I would” but in common terms it means to desire or to wish. Paul is writing to Christians saying that he wishes they all spoke in tongues, so that means that some didn’t have a heavenly language. This is a “gift” of the Spirit and is given as He wills.
Tongues verses Heavenly Language
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:7–11 ESV)
Gifts of the Spirit are given for the “common” good. This means we are to use them to help others. The word “tongues” also means “languages.” The gift of tongues is speaking in an earthly language that you have never spoken in before and is a recognized language by a certain people group, which was done when the Holy Spirit was poured out during the Feast of Pentecost. The Christians spoke in multiple languages to the amazement of the people from those countries who were hearing the Gospel in their own native tongue.
Christians became more aware of this gift in 1900, when Charles Parham started a school near Topeka, Kansas. People of varying faiths were drawn to this large manor house in the middle of nowhere. The students gathered in a room and kept a “prayer watch,” each taking turns praying and asking for the gift of tongues according to what they read had happened at the Feast of Pentecost.
It was a Quaker woman who began speaking in a strange way: she even wrote in a language they couldn’t understand. She was unable to speak or write anything else for months until a group of people stopped by who spoke Mandarin Chinese. They could understand her and read what she wrote!
This school would bloom into what is now known as the Pentecostal religion. They endured much mocking and ridicule, even abuse as they proclaimed this revelation to the world.
As demonstrated by the first recorded American example of the gift of tongues, it is a tool for evangelism. The Chinese who were traveling through were shocked to see this woman speaking their language. It let them know that something truly miraculous was taking place. This is part of what the Lord said would happen when people preach the Gospel:
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues... (Mark 16:17 AKJV)
There are many examples of this in the world today. A minister will speak the native tongue fluently when sent by God to a nation. This is much different from the heavenly language (praying in the Spirit) which can be used with the gift of interpretation. Paul says:
Why let him that speaks in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. (1 Corinthians 14:13 AKJV)
If you research the book of 1 Corinthians, you will see that the church was having an issue of pride. The members were used to demonstrating their holiness by outward acts. They began praying in the Spirit during meetings to get attention and show how holy they were. I encourage you to read the entire passage of 1 Corinthians 14 to understand the fullness of Paul’s instruction concerning how the gift of the Spirit should be used. The most essential portions are these:
Eagerly pursue and seek to acquire [this] love [make it your aim, your great quest]; and earnestly desire and cultivate the spiritual endowments (gifts), especially that you may prophesy (interpret the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching). For one who speaks in an [unknown] tongue speaks not to men but to God, for no one understands or catches his meaning, because in the [Holy] Spirit he utters secret truths and hidden things [not obvious to the understanding]. (1 Corinthians 14:1–2 AMPC)
Nevertheless, in public worship, I would rather say five words with my understanding and intelligence in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a [strange] tongue (language) (1 Corinthians 14:19 AMPC)
This makes it clear that there are two uses for tongues. For clarity’s sake, I refer to the form used in public as “tongues.” The one that only God understands I call a “heavenly language” or “praying in the spirit” because of this scripture:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1 AKJV)
There are clearly two types of tongues mentioned: tongues of men and tongues of angels. This language of angels would be the heavenly language because it is spoken by those who live in Heaven. In the Bible the distinction between the two is really about the function:
- Is it an earthly language used as a witnessing tool?
- I call that tongues because man should understand it
- Is it only understood by God?
- I call this a “heavenly language” because those in Heaven understand it
Whichever gift you receive, we must always remember that it is from the Holy Spirit. We need to listen to Him about how and when to use it. If we want it to benefit others who are present, we should ask for interpretation of what is being prayed.
Purpose of the Heavenly Language
Besides edifying or building up our spirit, the heavenly language has another use:
So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance. And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will. (Romans 8:26–27 AMPC)
This gift is used to give your prayer time over to the Holy Spirit, to be used by Him as He wants to use you.
He that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself; but he that prophesies edifies the church. (1 Corinthians 14:4 AKJV)
The words “unknown tongue” refers to praying in a heavenly language that edifies our spiritual bodies. The Holy Spirit showed me this in a visit to the Secret Place that occurred while worshipping. It was a vague vision which captured my attention:
I danced with Jesus during the first song as I have done many times when I worship. The second song I found myself at the river with my Father and Jesus: I ran and jumped into Daddy’s arms, letting Him know how much I missed Him. As the next tune began, He sat me on the ground and told me to go play.
Darting forward, I splashed through the shallow stream, toward the Holy Spirit. My Friend ran from me and we chased each other around for a bit in a game of tag. The vision began to become clear and distinct as the child-sized member of the Trinity dashed to a tree and began climbing; I was right on His heels.
Fruit was visible high up in the upper branches. The Holy Spirit grabbed one and handed it to me. It was bright red like an apple, but shaped like a peach. He gave a nod when I looked at Him, wondering if I could eat it.
Though I didn’t taste the fruit as I hoped, an odd sensation accompanied the eating of it. The bottom half of my face around my mouth and my jaw tingled with a heaviness I often feel on my hands or legs when I pray. As I swallowed each bite, pressure built right where my ribs meet; the place our spirit resides.
After finishing the first piece of fruit, the Holy Spirit handed me a second piece saying with a smile, “You need to pray in the heavenly language more.” I continued eating each piece of fruit He handed me throughout the next two songs! The vision became clearer and clearer as I ate. Soon I could see birds flying in the bright blue sky and could see details of the river I had never seen before. I could make out every aspect of Jesus and my Father who were standing in the river watching this with fondness.
Recently, in another Secret Place visit the Lord showed me what it looks like in the spiritual realm: As I prayed in the heavenly language my spiritual body became brighter and brighter until, minutes later, it sparkled like it was made out of jewels. This gift will help strengthen your spirit!
I reached a point in my walk with God that I desperately wanted to give my prayers over to the Holy Spirit. He would know what to say. At a church meeting the leader asked for people to come forward if they wanted to receive a heavenly language so the Holy Spirit could pray to God for us. After the pastor prayed for us, we were sent to a room to talk with individual advisors about this gift.
A sweet young woman prayed for me. When she opened her eyes, she asked, “Is it possible that you already have your heavenly language?”
“When I was a teenager,” I explained, “we went to a Pentecostal church one summer. They asked if I wanted the gift of tongues. They had me raise my hands while we prayed. We prayed so long that they had to hold my arms up. Finally, one of them said, ‘There, she’s got it!’ But I never used it, nor did I even know how.”
“When you are quiet before the Lord, do you sometimes hear a word or two that doesn’t make any sense?” she probed.
I thought about it for a minute then said, “I think so. I hear three sounds quite often: ‘Ash, sha, ba.’ Are those words?”
She squeezed my hands, “Yes! Then next time you’re alone, spend some time praying then ask the Holy Spirit to help free your tongue. Praying in the Spirit is kind of like a rolling stone. Once you get your tongue started, the Holy Spirit will take over. Repeat the words God gave you over and over until you begin praying in the Spirit.”
I agreed to give it a try, slightly disappointed that I didn’t get to pray in the Spirit right away.
It was more than a week later before I had a quiet moment at home. On my knees, with hands folded, I prayed, as I was accustomed. After I had said my piece, I asked the Holy Spirit to loosen my tongue.
I have to say, I felt quite silly sitting there saying, “Ash, sha, ba, ash, sha, ba,” over and over again.
Minutes ticked by. “Ash, sha, ba, ash, sha, ba, ash, sha, ba.” With a surprising suddenness, words that I didn’t even know existed starting flowing out. “Ash, sha, ba callaha buduna…” It was a very… unusual…. experience to have words, which never entered my mind come from my mouth. This went on for a good half an hour.
God is no respecter of persons. You don’t need to wait for someone to pray for you. You only need follow the instructions in the Bible:
- Peter spoke about Jesus and the Holy Spirit which brought tongues.
- Paul baptized them in the name of the Lord Jesus and laid hands on them.
You must know the following:
- God anointed Jesus of Nazareth, His Son, with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with Him.
- And although they put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree, God raised Him up on the third day and caused Him to be seen— not by all the people, but by the witnesses God had chosen beforehand, by many who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead.
- He is the One appointed by God to judge the living and the dead: that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name. (Acts 10:38-43 AKJV)
Speak these words out loud, then confess that Jesus is the Son of God and the Lord of your life. Place your hands anywhere on your body and ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit. Remind Him of the accounts in the Bible where people spoke in other tongues to confirm they had received the Holy Spirit and ask for Him to do the same for you.
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Believers' Boot Camp series
Many people think of boot camp as a place you train for combat. Any veteran will tell you that basic training is about three things:
- Knowing what weapons are available
- Learning how to use those weapons
- Receiving orders and following them
Volume 1: Why Doesn't God Speak to Me?
Eager hearts cry out, hoping for a single word to confirm that He hears us. Yet, many times the only sound is silence. Over the years I have heard several reasons why God speaks to some and not to others. One night, as I tossed and turned, I brought each of these reasons before the Lord, stating why each of them did not line up with who I thought He was.
Words rose from my soul, pleading for Him to reveal why He has remained silent when a single word from Him would mean so much to so many. For the next few hours, God used things I learned about years ago and things I had just discovered to show why He talks to some and why He doesn’t, and in demonstrative ways.
In His grace, He also showed me how people could hear more from Him. Basic instructions on how to hear more from God and how to be led by Him are included in this book. Thank you for taking time to consider the answers I received and share with you now.
Keys to Authority for Every Believer
There is untapped power that is easy for every Christian to access in the form of authority. The keys to this authority will unlock weapons we can use to free ourselves from the attacks of the enemy. We must be intimately aware of the bounds and limitations of our weapon if they are to be used effectively.
Find out about your authority:
- Why you need it.
- Where it comes from.
- What you can do with it.
- How to get more.
- Why you need it.
- Where it comes from.
- What you can do with it.
- How to get more.