The apostle Paul said, “Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret” (1 Cor. 14:13, NRSVA). Paul shared a number of profound truths about speaking in tongues, and in this verse’s context he was laying the principles for the public speaking of tongues.
When tongues are spoken for all to hear within the church body, an interpretation is necessary for the edification of the congregation. Paul said that if he were to go to a gathering of believers speaking in tongues, it wouldn’t be beneficial to those who heard unless there were a revelation or prophecy or word of instruction with an interpretation that followed (1 Cor. 14:6-12).
Then in verse 13 Paul states, “One who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret” (NRSVA). So how do we start to receive the power to interpret?
If God has called you to speak in tongues publicly for the church body to hear, Paul says you should pray for the power to interpret. You can interpret your own tongues, or if you are aware of interpreters within your church, God can use them to interpret the message in tongues. First Corinthians 14:27-28 (RSV) says, “If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God.”
It is in the secret place of prayer, where it is just you and God, that you ask Him for the gift of interpreting tongues, beginning with your own prayer language. You can begin the process today! I’d encourage you to play some worship music and draw near to the Holy Spirit by faith. Worship and adore Jesus, and soon, ask Him for the spiritual gift of interpreting tongues.
After asking Him, begin to pray in tongues for a minute or so. Then pause and listen to His still, small voice. If you have a journal with you, begin writing what His voice tells you. That is the interpretation of what you prayed in tongues.
As you do this more in your spiritual life, you will grow in this spiritual gift. Then, if the Holy Spirit stirs you to speak in tongues for the congregation to hear in the right moment, you can speak in tongues and then interpret them or wait for another interpreter to give the message so that everyone will be edified.
The apostle Paul said, “Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church” (1 Cor. 14:12, NIV). This includes prophecy and the interpretation of tongues for edification, exhortation and comfort. Most importantly, this must be done in love to build up the church (1 Cor. 14:1-5).
Jared and Rochelle Laskey co-founded Fireborn Ministries to teach believers how to live a daily Spirit-empowered life. You can find their resources and learn more about their ministry on firebornministries.com. They also have e-courses such as Entry Level Prophecy, The Last Days, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit and more on charismacourses.com, and the popular podcast Adventures in the Spirit, available anywhere you listen to podcasts.
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