What is Praying in Tongues? The Mysterious Gift Unveiled
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What is Praying in Tongues? The Mysterious Gift Unveiled

Speaking in tongues, or praying in tongues, has been a mysterious and often controversial topic within the Christian community for centuries. For many, it brings to mind ecstatic expressions, emotional outbursts, and seemingly incomprehensible conversations with God. Others view it as an intimate form of worship, where the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf, and it provides a unique path to draw closer to God. In this blog post, we will seek to uncover the biblical basis for speaking in tongues, discuss its significance today, and explore the practical ways to activate this spiritual gift in a believer’s life.

Before diving deep into this topic, it is imperative to understand that praying in tongues is not the ultimate test of one’s faith or holiness, nor is it the only evidence for the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence. It is one of the many gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4-11), and every believer’s journey with God may look different in how these gifts are manifested. Our goal is to shed light on this fascinating topic in a balanced and edifying manner.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Praying in tongues is a gift from the Holy Spirit to believers for the purpose of edifying both the individual praying and the church community as a whole.
  2. This practice is based on Scripture and has biblical precedents in both the Old and New Testament.
  3. Praying in tongues is not the ultimate test of faith, but it can be a powerful way to deepen your relationship with God and overcome personal limitations in prayer.
  4. Activation of this spiritual gift may vary from person to person, and there are practical steps to explore and develop it in a believer’s life.
  5. Proper discernment, guidance, and balance are essential to authentically cultivating this gift in accordance with God’s purpose.
What is praying in tongues? The mysterious gift unveiled

The Biblical Basis for Speaking in Tongues

As we begin to unravel the mystery of speaking in tongues, it becomes vital to ground our understanding in Scripture. Acts 2 marks the birth of the church and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. During this event, “they began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit enabled them”(Acts 2:4). This gift was not limited to only the apostles, as many other believers were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues as well.

In the Apostle Paul’s writings, we find a detailed account of speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14). Paul encourages believers to seek the gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 14:5), but also emphasizes maintaining order in worship (1 Corinthians 14:27-33). This aligns with the Scripture that states “God is not a God of disorder, but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). From these passages, we observe that the biblical basis for speaking in tongues is firmly established within the New Testament context.

Different Types of Speaking in Tongues

There are generally two types of speaking in tongues: the public manifestation and the private use. In the public manifestation, believers are given the ability to speak a language they have never learned, often accompanied by interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:10-13). This serves as a sign to unbelievers and promotes unity within the body of Christ.

In contrast, the second type of tongue-speaking is used primarily for personal edification and strengthening the believers’ inner relationship with God. In this context, Paul refers to it as “speaking mysteries with the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 14:2) and builds up the individual believer (1 Corinthians 14:4). This type is often characterized as praying in tongues, which will be the main focus of discussion in this blog post.

The Purpose and Benefits of Praying in Tongues

At its core, praying in tongues is a gift with the central purpose of deepening a believer’s relationship with God. As the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf (Romans 8:26-27), praying in tongues allows us to pray in alignment with God’s perfect will, transcending the limitations of our intellect. Praying in the Spirit also increases our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, which subsequently empowers us to tap into divine wisdom and direction.

One significant benefit of praying in tongues is the edification that results from it (1 Corinthians 14:4). This spiritual exercise has the potential to build up our faith, enhance our perception of God’s presence, and fill us with spiritual strength. In times of weakness or uncertainty, praying in tongues can serve as a refreshing source of solace and comfort, renewing our hope and stirring up the precious gifts of the Holy Spirit residing within us (2 Timothy 1:6).

Activation and Cultivating the Gift of Tongues

As with any spiritual gift, personal desire and actively seeking the gift of tongues are crucial factors in its activation. Begin by asking the Holy Spirit to fill you afresh and impart this gift to you (Luke 11:11-13). Pursue an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit through daily prayer, worship, and meditation on God’s Word. Be receptive and expectant, as the Holy Spirit may move in your life at any instant.

It is essential to practice and exercise this gift in a humble and yielded spirit. Begin by uttering syllables or phrases that come naturally to you as you focus on the Lord. Do not be discouraged if it feels awkward or uncomfortable initially. Continue to engage in personal prayer and worship, allowing the Holy Spirit to refine and develop this gift within you.

Discernment, Guidance, and Balance

Lastly, practicing discernment, seeking guidance from mature believers, and maintaining balance are all essential aspects of cultivating the practice of praying in tongues. Be vigilant in ensuring that your focus remains on Jesus Christ, and not solely on the gift itself. Remember, the Holy Spirit is the Giver of all gifts, and we should never lose sight of the central purpose of drawing closer to God.

Seek wise counsel from your local church leadership and mature believers in your community, especially if you have concerns, doubts, or feelings of confusion. Learning from their experiences and exhortations will greatly aid your personal growth in this area.


In conclusion, praying in tongues is a powerful and beneficial spiritual gift to help believers communicate more deeply with God and experience personal edification. Grounded in Scripture and having biblical precedents, speaking in tongues remains to be a vital topic for believers in the 21st century.

By actively seeking, cultivating, and maintaining balance in this spiritual gift, believers can move closer to experiencing the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives. Above all, let us continue to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, the Author, and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Pastor duke taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.