As I study speaking in tongues, I have a few questions that I feel like varies from person to person….

When speaking in tongues: Is that something that happens out of the presence of it Spirit (uncontrollable), is it something that a person just decides to do, or both?


Thanks for the question, David.  This is a big topic and one which can come with some misunderstanding.  I am going to attempt to bring some clarity without getting too deeply involved!  So, here are some basics to begin with:

  1. First, it is important to understand that the moment you believed on the Lord Jesus, God’s Spirit came to live inside of you, making you a new creation. You are now a part of the body of Christ, and the life of God has been put in you.
  2. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a matter of asking for more of the Holy Spirit, but rather, wanting that which is already in us to immerse (cover over) us, flow out of us, and touch the world around us. It is yielding of ourselves to the influence of the Holy Spirit.
  3. Speaking in tongues is one of the gifts we were given when we were born again, so it is not something new that we ask for. When we yield to the influence of the Holy Spirit, this gift can operate though us. The Bible tells us the Holy Spirit is our helper. He is not an enforcer. He will draw and empower us; He will not force us. You will never speak in tongues outside of your will to do so.
Therefore, I would use the words in your question and say: Because of the presence and influence of God’s Spirit within us, we can yield and speak words unknown to us to glorify God when we so choose.

I think it is important that I continue to discuss ‘why and when to speak in tongues.’

  • When we worship God with our minds, we are limited by our understanding, our vocabulary, and our ability of expressing our love. Tongues give us a way to glorify God from our hearts. We can bypass our limitations and express the true passion of our hearts.
  • How quickly I can run out of words in my prayers! Don’t you sometimes feel that you do not even know what to pray? By praying in tongues, we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into the perfect prayer. This also brings valuable personal edification (which means to strengthen or build up).

Romans 8:26 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

  • While tongues used in the two ways listed above are for us personally, God may move upon you to share a message in tongues for a particular situation. The interpretation is meant to be edifying, so be respectful of the way this is done in the local setting.

This barely scratches the surface of this topic.  If anyone has more questions or comments, please send them to us.

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