Discovering the gift of Speaking in Tongues

Spirit led:  Discovering the gift of tongues (or one’s "spiritual prayer language") is something that the Holy Spirit will lead you through.  The Holy Spirit is to be the ultimate teacher:

But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.  1 John 2:27 NKJV

See also:  John 16:13 and John 14:26

Having said that, it can be helpful to seek assistance from a person or ministry that is working in the gifts of the Spirit.   Two of the Bible's tongues events ( Acts 10:45-47 and Acts 19:5-7) occur in ministries of people who were "operating in the gifts of the Spirit" (Peter and Paul).   A common way that people receive the gift of tongues is through the laying on of hands in prayer.   In Acts 19:5-7, Paul lays hands on the Ephesian believers , who are then filled with the Spirit.

Heart check: Ask yourself what your motivation is for pursuing tongues and interpretation.  It is easy to seek the gift instead of the Giver, and it can become a form of idolatry.   God wants us to enjoy His presence and His gifts, but He most of all wants us to seek Him and to use His gifts to bring more people into His presence.   If your heart's desire is to minister to others in the love and power of God, then you are a good candidate for seeking tongues.

Ask God for a "fresh filling":   As we see in the Acts accounts, tongues often accompany a "filling" of the Holy Spirit in a believerís life.  We can pray for this filling just as the Christians prayed in Acts 4:24-31.  Visit our Sample Prayers for suggested prayers on inviting God's Spirit to fill you afresh. 

Wait on God:  Since God gives tongues and the other gifts of the Spirit as he chooses (1 Corinthians 12:11), you must wait patiently on Him.   You may not be filled afresh immediately,  or speak in tongues the first time you pray for it.   Don't give up in your petitions to God.  He often desires people to pursue him persistently.   The important part is that you keep your eyes fixed on God.    As the Psalmist declared, "I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope" ( Psalm 130:5 NKJV).  Be patient and resist the temptation to doubt the reality of God's spiritual gifts in you.  Satan would love to convince you that there is nothing to wait for.

Respond in Faith:  When the Spirit comes upon you, you will know it, and if the Spirit prompts you to speak forth in an unknown tongue, you will know it.  If you receive that prompting, then act on it and speak whatever the Spirit gives you.   The Spirit will not seize control of your mouth and make you speak, but you need to yield your mouth to Him and speak whatever He brings to your lips.   This can be a real test of humility, as you surrender yourself to speaking what may seem to be nonsense.   Your faith will help bridge the gap between your lack of understanding and the confidence that you are speaking mysteries to God by your spirit. 

Pray that you may interpret:  Paul told the Corinthians to pray that they may interpret their tongues  (1 Corinthians 14:13).   After you speak in tongues, ask God for the interpretation.  Take some time to wait on Him in prayer and/or worship.  The answer will likely come as an impression, phrase, gentle voice or thought.    Don't get frustrated if you don't receive an answer, but rather, continue on in faith.  Concerning the mysteries of God, we don't always have to know everything that's going on!

Test What You Hear: The gifts of the Holy Spirit are subject to intense attack from Satan.  He recognizes the tremendous power in the employment of the gifts of the Spirit. This power will drive back evil and destroy strongholds.   Satan uses misrepresentation of the gifts to deceive and mislead people.  Christians not well-grounded in the Bible could easily fall to Satan’s counterfeits.  Satan's workers can display counterfeit miracles, signs, wonders and every sort of deception (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10).  This deception can be unmasked by testing it against the authority of Jesus Christ (1 John 4:1-4) and the Bible (2 Peter 1:16-21).  Use the Bible to validate the messages you receive from the spiritual realm (Hebrews 4:12).  Utterances given by God through tongues will not conflict with scripture.  

Further help:  Books on the Gifts of the Spirit

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