‘Purposing Change’ Meditations: 29. The power of tongues
Acts 19:6 “When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.”
In these recent studies, as we are drawing more near to the end of the month, we have been focusing more sharply on the spiritual aspects of the warfare that can sometimes rage over the lives of those who don’t yet know the Lord. It is always a mystery the balance between free will and the sovereignty of God, between the willingness or otherwise of the human heart and the prompting of the Lord. All we can do is be there, be available and be obedient to the Lord. Our part may be to share words of truth – the Gospel and explanations to questions – it may be to perform acts of love and kindness and must certainly be to pray. It is in this latter part that we move into spiritual areas in which many of us may feel uncomfortable. Yet I believe we have to walk on this path today, but I want to do it gently and sensitively if possible just in case you are not here yet.
If your faith is not here, please give today a miss or go and seek the Lord. I know many lovely Christians who are faithful in testimony and service but who shy away from these things, but that should not be the cause for us to speak about spiritual realities that have been proved in experience by many.
The natural mind struggles over this but those who have walked these paths before know the truth – when you have been filled with the Spirit and have the gift of tongues, (the use of tongues in private, just you and the Lord) it releases an inner strength and sense of worship, praise, and purpose, in ways beyond ordinary prayer. It is a relinquishing of the will and ‘our thinking’ that leaves it up to the Spirit. The enemy dislikes it and rushes out of the room. If you have the gift use it every day, just you and the Lord, and watch your worship flow, and watch for changes to take place.
Clearly in the several places in Acts when people were baptized in the Spirit and filled with the Spirit (when you immerse [baptize] a cup in water it is filled) tongues and/or prophecy flowed. Probably the original earliest book on this subject was John Sherrill’s ‘They Speak with other Tongues’ subtitled ‘A Skeptic Investigates this Life-Changing Gift’ that originally came out in 1964 and has been reprinted a number of times since. He helpfully points out that there have been times when tongues are literal other languages understood by others (Acts 2:8) but they are also, more commonly, unknown languages, prayer to God (1 Cor 14:2) that edifies the one praying (v.4) unless interpreted (v.5). As Sherrill and others have pointed out, tongues bypass the intellect and are an act of faith where there is a yearning to pray but the person praying has run out of words. Thus the Spirit continues the prayer but without the comprehension of the one praying. Testimonies through the centuries by many have indicated that ‘praying in tongues’ almost inevitably releases a fresh sense of worship and adoration of the Lord as well as enabling the one praying to have a greater sense of fulfillment when praying for a difficult subject. Such praying also seeks to release a fresh wave of faith. The apostle Paul was able to say to the church at Corinth, “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues,” (1 Cor 14:5) having just said, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit. (v.1) The simplest thing I can say is that God loves you without tongues but has provided it for your blessing if you want to ask Him for it. Without doubt tongues can be used as we pray for our loved ones to sustain us in our praying, release faith in us and, maybe, even bring breakthrough. If this study is not for you, don’t let it detract from your primary goal that we have been considering for the rest of this past month.