Why I Don’t Apologize for Speaking in Tongues

by | Jun 23, 2010 | Blogs, Fire in My Bones

Instead of
denying or downplaying this misunderstood spiritual gift, we should have the
courage to embrace it.

Last week after I
taught a class on the Holy Spirit at a ministry school in Pennsylvania, a
22-year-old guy from Maryland asked if I could pray with him. He had heard me
share how I was baptized in the Holy Spirit at age 18, and he wanted the same
experience. He was especially intrigued by the idea of speaking in tongues—something
he had never done even though he was comfortable around other classmates who
had this spiritual gift.

This young man,
Eric, understood that he already had the Holy Spirit. (We can’t be born again
without the Spirit entering our hearts and quickening Christ’s life in us.) But
he knew that Jesus offers us more—that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a
second experience in which the fullness of God’s divine power saturates us and
anoints us for supernatural ministry.

 Eliminating
the gift of tongues can have a direct impact on the miraculous flow of
the
Spirit’s anointing in the church. You might as well flip a breaker
switch and
turn off all the lights
.”

I explained to
Eric that when I prayed for this blessing many years ago, God did not force
anything on me. We don’t “have” to speak in tongues, and God certainly doesn’t
make us move our mouths against our will. We open our mouths, but it is the
Spirit who gives us this unusual heavenly language. Glossolalia makes no sense in the natural—it actually sounds like
gibberish—but the Bible says praying in the Spirit strengthens us profoundly
(see 1 Cor. 14:2,4).

I laid hands on
Eric in the back of the auditorium and asked Jesus to fill him with divine
power and to release the Holy Spirit’s language as a manifestation of the
overflow. Nothing dramatic happened at that moment, but I told Eric to remain
expectant. I’ve learned that oftentimes the release of the Spirit comes easier
when people are not distracted by crowds. I encouraged my new friend to go home
and pray some more.

A couple of days
later I received an e-mail from this brother, letting me know that a small
miracle had occurred in his life. He wrote: 
“Thank you for praying for me to
speak in tongues. That night was interesting because phrases started to
pop into my head.  I was determined.  I began speaking the phrases
and by the next night I was speaking in tongues as I was falling
asleep. Now, every moment that I am not worshiping, praying, eating or
speaking to someone, I am practicing this gift. Praise God!”

Many of us fall into the trap
of downplaying the phenomenon of speaking in tongues, even after we have
received the gift ourselves. We may consider it divisive (and it certainly can
be when it is abused) or we’re embarrassed because it seems weird or fanatical
to our unbelieving friends or family members.

Yet when I read the apostle
Paul’s comments on the issue, I realize that glossolalia was a key component of the New Testament church. No one
can deny that. Not only did tongues play a fundamental role on the day of
Pentecost when the church was born, but this strange gift also fueled Paul’s
personal zeal. He wasn’t bragging when he wrote: “I thank God I speak in
tongues more than you all” (1 Cor. 14:18, NASB). He most likely prayed in
tongues for hours at a time. He knew he couldn’t carry out his extraordinary
ministry without a private devotional life that was soaked in supernatural
prayer.

That’s also why he wrote: “Do
not forbid to speak in tongues” (1 Cor. 14:39).  He knew that even though some people might be tempted to misuse
this gift (and this is usually why people restrict it), we must never, never,
never shut it down.

Eliminating the gift of
tongues can have a direct impact on the miraculous flow of the Spirit’s
anointing in the church. You might as well flip a breaker switch and turn off
all the lights. Tongues does not make us holier than anyone else, and if we
don’t exhibit love and Christian character it becomes a useless gift comparable
to a noisy gong (see 1 Cor. 13:1). But when stewarded properly, and tempered
with humility, this seemingly insignificant grace of the Holy Spirit becomes an
invisible atomic weapon.

I am not saying we should
showcase tongues in church gatherings, scream at people in tongues or make
people feel like misfits if they haven’t experienced the gift. When the
Corinthians put tongues on the platform and turned their meetings into chaotic
circus sideshows, Paul rebuked them sternly. But the same apostle who warned
his followers not to flaunt tongues in public also spent countless hours
praying in tongues privately—because it is a vital source of spiritual power
that we must not neglect.

The young man I met in
Pennsylvania has a strong call on his life to reach others for Jesus, and he
will be more effective in ministry now that he has added this misunderstood
spiritual weapon to his arsenal. I pray you, too, will discover its value.

J. Lee Grady is contributing
editor of Charisma and author of the
new book The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale.
Follow him on Twitter at leegrady. Learn more about his ministry at themordecaiproject.com.

 

 

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Discerning False Prophets and Delusions with Mario Murillo

Discerning False Prophets and Delusions with Mario Murillo

My longtime friend Mario Murillo is providing a critical role in the body of Christ in speaking up against the wolves in sheep clothing. Matthew Henry said, "A traitor inside the camp is more dangerous than 1,000 persecutors outside the camp." Christians want to be...

Do You Need A Miracle? It’s In Your Mouth!

Do You Need A Miracle? It’s In Your Mouth!

So many people are in need of a miracle these days. So many people are experiencing lack, illness and despair. So many of these people are Christian people that are bewildered as to why they are experiencing such hardship. The Christian life is not an easy one, but it...

Is America Destined to Become Like Sodom and Gomorrah?

Is America Destined to Become Like Sodom and Gomorrah?

Sodom and Gomorrah were real cities and real people lived there. These were notoriously sinful cities that God warned but eventually destroyed because of their wickedness (Gen. 19:24). These cities, infamous for their debauchery and homosexuality, are mentioned 23...

How to Get Rid of Guilt Forever

How to Get Rid of Guilt Forever

Are you bugged by a guilty conscience … carrying around baggage from a certain mistake or decision that produces feelings of regret or even self-loathing? We’ve all said or done things that we wish we could take back. And while it’s completely natural to grieve over a...

4 Tips to Fix Your Christian Marriage Problems

4 Tips to Fix Your Christian Marriage Problems

Christian married couples, like everyone else in the world, can have their ups and downs. The pressures at work, home and family can mount a pile so high you barely see your spouse on the other side. God created marriage and He longs for you to have a healthy,...

RECENT ARTICLES

Prophecy: The Isaiah 60 Church Will Arise

I saw a movie several years ago about an Amish community. In the movie, when someone needed help (whether it was a crisis, a barn raising or help in harvesting their fields) they would ring a large...
Did Mr. Rogers Warn Against Transgenderism?

Did Mr. Rogers Warn Against Transgenderism?

While he may not have realized it at the time, Fred Rogers, otherwise known as "Mr. Rogers" on the children's television program "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood," may have been anti-trans and also prophetic about the culture in America more than 40 years ago. A devoted...

Evangelist John Ramirez Exposing Satanism Infecting America

Evangelist John Ramirez Exposing Satanism Infecting America

Spiritual warfare is raging across America, yet few are talking about it or the ramifications that come with it. The Bible warns Christians of the enemy's plans, but the deception of the devil has relegated many to the sidelines instead of the frontlines where they...

14 Fervent Prayers for Gen Z

14 Fervent Prayers for Gen Z

Generation Z—those born between 1997 and 2012—is rising. They are entering the workforce, entering politics and entering the ministry. But spiritually speaking, this generation is in crisis. Forty-six percent of Gen Z say they’ve committed their lives to Jesus, which...

The Fresh and Mighty Wind of God’s Spirit Is Now Blowing

The Fresh and Mighty Wind of God’s Spirit Is Now Blowing

There is a fresh wind blowing. It is the fresh wind of His Spirit. It is not only a wind that will bring refreshment, healing, empowerment and strength, but it is a wind that will bring deep rest, deep clarity and a deep stirring of what He is breathing upon! I had a...

Yes, Jesus Did Address Sexual Sin

Yes, Jesus Did Address Sexual Sin

Yes, Chris Bryant, Jesus really did address the subject of homosexuality, no matter how much you might want to twist the issue. After the Church of England recently set down an edict that forbid same-sex couples to marry but that each individual would receive "God's...

Pin It on Pinterest