by DR. Hobart E. Freeman, Th.D.
Why speak in tongues? Surely there must be valid, scriptural reasons, or God would not have instituted this as the "sign" of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, nor established it as one of the "gifts of the Spirit" which He set in the church Acts 2:4; I Corinthians 12:28). In view of this, I have written this book primarily for the purpose of helping those Christians who have settled any doctrinal questions or doubts they may have had about the possib- ility of receiving the charismatic experience. For the sake of those who may not be thoroughly grounded in the Scriptures in regard to this question, the final chapter sets forth the basic scriptural instruction for those who wish to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is clearly promised the believer in the Word of God, but one cannot receive this blessing until he has gotten over his doubts and fears, or any doctrinal problems concerning the validity of this experience for today. All god's promises are appropriated by faith. To remove doubts, as well as any unscriptural ideas about the question, we recommend a study of God's Word on this matter. This is how the writer received this experience, and has been privileged to pray for countless hundreds of other Christians who also received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking supernaturally in new tongues.
There is considerable confusion today among Christians over the question of the baptism in the Spirit and speaking in tongues. They have been misled and mistaught about this matter for so long that they really do not know what to believe. Satan has created such a fear in the hearts of many people concerning the baptism in the Spirit that the very mention of the subject is enough to frighten them into open resistance. Moreover, even when some Christians come to see the validity of the baptism in the Spirit for today and desire the experience, because they think that there may be some stigma associated with speaking in tongues, often they will ask: "Can I receive the baptism in the Spirit without tongues? I have no particular need for speaking in tongues." Sometimes they will ask: "What is the good of speaking in tongues?"
A Lutheran confided to me one day: "I came to the conviction that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was valid for today, and I greatly desired this blessing; but when I asked the Lord to baptize me in His Spirit, I prayed, 'Lord, I would like to have the baptism in the Spirit, but I would like to receive it without tongues. After all, I don't want to offend any of my Lutheran friends.' I had no sooner prayed this when the Holy Spirit asked me, 'Do you think that you are more of a gentlemen than I am?"
This settled the matter of speaking in tongues for him. He repented of his assumption that the presence of the Holy Spirit in him, anointing him to praise God supernaturally, could be anything but one of the most blessed experiences of the Christian life. We too shall just leave the matter there, trusting that the Holy Spirit's reply to him will also settle the matter for other sincere Christians. To believe that God would ever give us an experience except that which is sacred and holy, or to think that the manifestation of His Presence in us would not glorify Him, is, of course, out of the question.
The purpose of this book, however, is not to discuss the validity of this experience (which is set forth in my books on Faith and Deeper Life in the Spirit), but our
We address ourselves in this chapter primarily to those charismatic Christians who, for one reason or another, occasion some difficulty or hindrance regarding prayer in the Spirit, and who lack freedom in tongues and release in the Spirit which they had hoped would accompany their infilling with the Holy Spirit.
"I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit several months ago," a Christian said to me, "but I have spoken only two or three words in new tongues. I greatly desire more freedom in the Spirit, but nothing more seems to come. Why is this?"
Another confided: "I experienced a wonderful anointing by the Spirit at the time of my baptism, and I spoke fluently for some time. However, I have not prayed in the spirit too often since, as I seldom feel this anointing to speak in tongues. I thought the anointing remained with us after receiving the baptism in the Spirit. What has happened?"
In another instance, a Christian remarked: "I have not continued to speak in tongues since my baptism, as God did not give me the gift of tongues."
A Methodist pastor stated: "I pray in tongues occiasionally, usually when I am in some charismatic gathering with other Spirit-filled Christians. But generally I feel that it is just me doing the speaking, so I don't pray regularly in the Spirit."
Another confided with concern: "I was not aware that I was supposed to continue to pray in the Spirit after my baptism; therefore, I did not continue to do so. Since then I have seen the error in this, but now I find that I am unable to speak in tongues, even though I have tried and tried, and have prayed earnestly about the problem."
What is the cause of such difficulties as these? We have found that due to some hindrance many charismatic Christians who spoke in tongues at the time of their baptism in the Spirit either do not continue to pray in the Spirit, or do so infrequently, often without any real freedom. Generally, hindrances to the continuation of speaking in tongues after the initial experience result from one of the following causes.
1. A negative attitude and confession.
Many Christians do not seem to realize how often they defeat themselves by their negative attitudes and by what they say or confess. The Scriptures warn that "as [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 6:2).
"I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit several months ago," one concerned woman confided, "but I still cannot speak more than two or three words in new tongues. Can you tell me what is wrong?"
"Yes," I replied. "The solution to your problem is really quite simple. It is your attitude. Your negative confession is defeating you. You can only speak two or three words simply because you do not expect more than two or three words. And since this is what you believe, it is reflected in your confession of failure. The next time you pray in the Spirit confess beforehand that you will speak more than two or three words in tongues, and then act on your confession of faith. Expect a full language to come, and you will find that it will happen."
I have also found that this negative attitude and confession prevents some Christians who desire to be baptized in the Holy Spirit from receiving the experience. After the service one evening, a woman asked why she had no evidence of her baptism, saying, "I received prayer for the baptism in the Spirit, but I have never spoken in ton gues. Actually, I never felt that speaking in tongues was important; but I have prayed, "Lord, if you want me to have this evidence, then let me receive it."
As in the case of the other individual, she too was being snared by the words of her mouth. "God will never give us anything He has promised us," I answered, "unless we reach out by faith and appropriate it. Since speaking in tongues is the evidence or sign of the baptism in the Spirit, then you cannot receive such evidence as long as you are expressing disinterest or doubts as to its validity. Settle the matter from the Word of God, and then in faith ask for the evidence, and you will find that you will receive it."
In another instance similar to this, a woman who had received prayer for the infilling of the Holy Spirit had not spoken in tongues because of her negative attitude which had resulted from erroneous teaching on the subject by her denomination. She called one morning sating her problem on the phone. She anxiously desired to be baptized in the Spirit, but confessed that she had reservations about speaking in tongues as evidence of the infilling.
"You teach that speaking in tongues is the evidence and sign of the baptism in the Spirit," she said, "whereas my church holds that speaking in tongues was an experience limited to the early church, and that we receive the baptism today without such evidence."
"Then, I would suggest," I replied, "that you lay aside for the present what I have said, as well as what your church has taught you on the subject, and spend some time reading the Book of Acts to see what God has said about the matter, giving particular attention to chapters 2,9 (with Corinthians 14:18), 10 and 19. If after a sincere, prayerful study of these passages you still do not see the validity of tongues as evidence of the baptism in the Spirit, then you may as well forget the matter, for you will not receive the experience."
I am thoroughly convinced that a sincere search of the Word of God is the only way for contemporary Christians to overcome their confusion and the erroneous ideas which they have been taught about such matters as the baptism of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, divine healing, the charismatic gifts, and the validity of the miraculous in the church today.
About an hour later this woman called back, rejoicing in the Lord, saying, "I did as you suggested and began reading the Book of Acts with an open heart--and then it happened! I was only able to get to chapter 10 when I received the baptism in the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in new tongues."
Thus, we see how wrong attitudes or a negative confession concerning speaking in tongues present an insurmountable obstacle to receiving the baptism in the Spirit. They are also major hindrances to receiving freedom in the spirit and fluency in tongues. It is imperative to keep in mind that one cannot rise above the level of his confession. Your condition and experience tend to parallel your attitude and confession toward them.
2. Reliance upon feelings
It is interesting how often we encounter Christians who tell us that they have received the baptism in the Spirit with the evidence of new tongues, but that they have not continued to pray regularly in the Spirit after their initial experience. Often they confide that the reason for their failure is due to the fact that they seldom "feel the anointing" when they attempt to do so, and that they do not wish to do anything "in the flesh."
"I had a wonderful anointing from the Lord the night I received the Holy Spirit," a man once said to me, "but I have not continued to pray regularly in the Spirit because I seldom feel the same anointing. I thought the anointing to speak in tongues remained with us when we received the baptism. Why is it that I only experience this occasionally?"
Of course, it is only natural that we would feel the anointing of the Spirit initially at our baptism when we begin to speak in new tongues, and this anointing often stays with us for some time afterward. However, the time will eventually come, after one has received the baptism, when the initial anointing will diminish and it will not always be present when praying in tongues. Moreover, one should not always expect to "feel" an anointing before praying in the Spirit, inasmuch as speaking in tongues is, without exception, an act of faith, and has absolutely nothing to do with how one feels.
Although an anointing may at times accompany prayer in the Spirit, it is essential that we understand that the experience of speaking in tongues is always initiated by an act of faith on our part in precisely the same manner in which we initially received the baptism in the Spirit (Galatians 3:2,14, "by faith").
We are admonished several times in Scripture to pray in the Spirit as this is the means by which we edify ourselves, worship God, and minister on behalf of others (I Corinthians 14:2,4; Acts 10:46; Ephesians 6:18). Paul speaks of praying "in the Spirit" and praying "with the understanding" (I Corinthians 14:15). Every Christian uses prayer with the understanding to strengthen himself and to pray for his and others' needs, as well as for praising and worshipping God. He certainly does not wait until he "feels' an anointing before praying in English for these purposes. How much more then should he not wait upon some "feeling" before praying in the Spirit, especially in view of the fact that God has given him specific assurance that such prayer is always effective (Romans 8:26-27), and is the means of spiritually edifying himself (I Corinthians 14:2,4).
Effective prayer has nothing to do with how one feels when he prays; it has only to do with whether or not he prays in faith. Likewise, edification is not based upon feelings or other sense evidence. When one edifies himself he spiritually strengthens the inner man, and he builds up his faith (Jude 20).
In one instance, a woman had actually received the baptism in the Holy Spirit; yet she had come to doubt her experience because she had never been taught the difference between edification and feeling.
"I had prayer several years ago to receive the Holy Spirit," she confided to me. "But I did not feel anything, although I began to speak some strange words which others told me were new tongues. I can still speak this way, but I don't feel a thing, so I am not edified."
Like many, she was confusing edification with feeling. Edification does not mean "feeling edified." It is not an emotion or an anointing. Edification is a deep work of the Holy Spirit, whereby our inner man is strengthened spiritually, and our faith built up as we pray in the Spirit.
3. Confusion between the "sign" and the "gift" of tongues
Occasionally we find that some Christians do not continue to speak in tongues after the initial experience because they do not realize that tongues as the evidence of the baptism is not the same as the charismatic gift of tongues.
"I spoke in new tongues at the time of my baptism in the Holy Spirit," a Christian said to me one day. "However, I haven't continued to do so, because the Lord hasn't given me the gift of tongues. Doesn't Paul say in I Corinthians 12:30 that all do not speak with tongues?"
"We must recognize that speaking in tongues as the evidence of our baptism in the Spirit is not the same as the charismatic gift of tongues," I replied. "Every Spirit-filled believer can pray in the Spirit at any time he wishes if he will lift up his voice and speak in faith and intercession.
"However, this is but one language or tongue, and is to be used for the believer's personal devotions; whereas the gift of tongues is one of the nine charismatic gifts of the Spirit and consists of many tongues or languages ('divers kinds of tongues,' I Corinthians 12:10), which are for the purpose of ministering to the Body of Christ. It is in reference to these charismatic gifts that Paul asks: '...are all workers of miracles? have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?" (I Corinthians 12:29-30).
"Just as every Spirit-filled believer can pray for the sick (Mark 16:16-18), but not all have the charismatic gift of healing, so too every Christian who is baptized in the Spirit can pray with the devotional tongue which he received at the time of his baptism. However, not all have the charismatic ministry gift of divers kinds of tongues."
4. Occult bondage
When Christians who desire the baptism in the Holy Spirit seem unable to receive this experience, or those who have received the baptism can speak only a few words in tongues, often it is the result of some form of occult involvement.
The Scriptures show that participation or involvement in any of the following occult practices, whether done innocently or not, opens the door to oppression or bondage by the powers of darkness: ESP, telepathy, water divining, magic healing or charming, hypnosis, astrology (horoscope), consulting fortune tellers, mediums, or the ouija board, as well as attendance at seances or false religious cults (e.g. Spiritualists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists, etc.)
We have found that occult involvement invariably affects the participant adversely, frequently causing serious damage to one's spiritual life and faith. One of the most significant ways in which the adverse effects and influence of the powers of darkness become apparent is in a Christian's inability to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, or his failure to experience real freedom to pray in the Spirit if he has received the baptism. Liberation from occult bondage is the only solution.
Without exception, occult involvement is condemned by God in the Scriptures. Such practices are an abomination to Him and are under His curse (Deuteronomy 18:9-12; I Chronicles 10:13-14; Leviticus 19:31; Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:8).
For those who experience difficulty concerning receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, or who lack the freedom they desire for speaking in tongues, and who know of past occult involvement of any kind, liberation from occult bondage will involve two steps:
a. Confession of occult sins
In Jesus' Name, confess as sin all your occult involvement which you can remember. In case of occult involvement, which you cannot recall, simply ask God to forgive that which you have forgotten.
b. Renunciation of Satan and the command to depart
This is not to be a prayer or request, but a direct command to Satan for release by the individual seeking deliverance from occult bondage. We have found that it is necessary for the person who gave access to Satan in the first place through occult involvement to command him to depart. In faith, renounce him and all his work in your life, and command him to release you and depart. Be careful to state specifically that he must release you from all effects of occult bondage, since that involvement is the specific reason he has you bound.
Accept your liberation, and exercise your faith at once by asking for and receiving the baptism in the Spirit (Luke 11:13); or, if it is freedom in tongues you desire, by speaking forth in faith what the Spirit gives you now that you are free from your hindrances. Do not necessarily look for some "feeling" as evidence of your liberation, or you will allow the enemy to defeat you. Continue to confess and act your faith and Satan's hold will be broken. Remember, a negative attitude or a confession of doubt will be used by Satan to defeat you, for the Scriptures state, "according to your faith be it unto you" (Matthew 9:29; cf. 8:13).
Confess in faith that you will speak in new tongues; then act your faith and it will happen according to your faith. (For complete and detailed information on this important subject see my book Angels of Light? or my tract Occult Oppression and Bondage: How to be set FREE!).
5. Lack of understanding of the purpose and value of speaking in tongues
Perhaps the greatest hindrance to the continuation of speaking in tongues on the part of many Christians results from the simple fact that they have never been taught that they should pray regularly in the Spirit. The next chapter is devoted to showing the purpose and value of speaking in tongues, for it is the Spirit-filled believer's ministry of prayer in the Spirit which is the primary emphasis of this book.
The Christian's Three-fold Ministry in Tongues
The purpose of this chapter is to enable those who have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit to understand why they should continue to pray in the Spirit regularly each day. Many charismatic believers do not continue to pray in tongues because they have never been informed that they should, thinking that speaking in tongues was merely the evidence that they had been baptized in the Spirit. Because of this they have not only missed many spiritual blessings which accompany the glorious release of the spirit that praying in tongues gives, but they have also failed to fulfill the charismatic ministry that God has provided them through their baptism in the Spirit.
Every Spirit-filled believer, as a consequence of his baptism in the Holy Spirit and his ability to pray in tongues, has been supernaturally endowed with a three-fold charismatic ministry of prayer in the Spirit. This ministry involves: personal ministry for oneself, devotional ministry to God, and an extended ministry on behalf of others.
1. Personal ministry in tongues for oneself<p> The importance of personal ministry to oneself through prayer in the Spirit cannot be overemphasized, inasmuch as God has, by this means, provided us with the super natural ability to minister to ourselves spiritually as often as we desire. Through praying in tongues the believer is able to minister divine strength and rest to his own spirit, increase his faith, and intercede in the Spirit on his own behalf. In fact, there are three specific areas where prayer in the Spirit enables the charismatic believer to minister to himself.
He that speaketh in a tongue edifieth himself I Corinthians 14:4.
Self-edification is an essential ministry which God has provided for the Spirit-filled Christian through his ability to pray in the Spirit. Certainly he can also be edified through reading God's Word and by prayer with the understanding, but the personal ministry in tongues has been ordained by God to accomplish a spiritual work in the Christian which is impossible by any other means.
Some Christians without the charismatic experience, and because of erroneous teaching on the subject, will occasionally raise the objection that Paul seems to emphasize the value of prophecy over speaking in tongues in I Corinthians 14. On the contrary, with regard to per- sonal ministry to oneself, the Scriptures show that speaking in tongues is more essential to the believer's edification than prophecy (I Corinthians 14:2,4,14-15,18; Jude 20).
It is only with reference to our ministry to the church that the Apostle stresses the obvious advantage of prophesying over speaking in tongues without interpretation, because of the need for the Body of Christ to understand what is being said by the Spirit (note I Corinthians 14:4-5,19,28, "in the church"). However, the Apostle carefully points out that if the tongues which are spoken are also interpreted, then tongues are equivalent to prophecy and serve the same function (14:5,13,27).
As any unprejudiced reader can see, the Scriptures clearly show that prophecy edifies the church, and through tongues the believer edifies himself. With regard to personal ministry to oneself, praying in the Spirit is the divinely ordained means by which the believer edifies himself.
Paul indicates in I Corinthians 14:2,4,14-15 that when he prayed in tongues it was his spirit, not his intellect, which prayed to God. The Lord knows that, just as your body needs food to be strengthened and your mind needs to be encouraged by the Word and prayer, so too your spirit needs to be edified or strengthened by praying in the Spirit each day. This is precisely what Spirit-filled Christians are admonished to do in Jude 20. You are encouraged to pray in the Spirit regularly, for in so doing God states that you are "building up yourself on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost."
Self-edification through praying in tongues is a necessary important ministry which God has provided for thebeliever that praying with the understanding or intellect cannot give. It is the most direct and effective means whereby the inner man is strengthened spiritually, and the believer's faith is built up to enable him to endure trial, resist Satan, overcome temptation, and faithfully fulfill his place in the Body of Christ.
The Scriptures show us that although faith cometh by hearing the word (Romans 10;17), it is strengthened and increased by "praying in the Holy Ghost" (Jude 20; I Corinthians 14:4). Regular and consistent prayer in the Spirit is the primary means by which the deep, inward work of the Holy Spirit is effected in the believer. Without question many of the trials which have overwhelmed you, and the temptations which you failed to resist successfully, as well as the fear, worry, and anxiety which have oppressed you, are directly related to your neglect of regular, daily prayer in the Spirit. If, therefore, you desire to be strong in the faith, and walk in victory over every trail and adverse circumstances, then avail yourself of the supernatural means by which God has made this possible, for "he that speaketh in an unknown* tongue edifieth himself."
B. Spiritual Rest
With stammering lips and another tongue will he speak...This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing:... --Isaiah 28:11-12.
God has provided a spiritual rest for the believer which cannot be obtained by any means other than praying in the Spirit. The Apostle Paul shows in I Corinthians 14:21-22 that the "rest" of which God speaks in Isaiah 28:11-12 is with reference to speaking in tongues. When the Spirit-filled believer faces trial and adversity; when he is tempted to doubt and worry; when he is tempted to panic during some crisis or emergency; when problems seem as if they are about to overwhelm him; when, in his warfare with the forces of darkness, he finds himself weary or discouraged; he can minister to himself through the Spirit and enter into a place of spiritual rest and victory which is unknown to those without the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Through the baptism in the Spirit, God has provided a supernatural rest of the believer. The contemporary church's neglect of the experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and its unwarranted opposition to speaking in tongues, will help to explain why the offices of so many pastors and psychiatrists are filled with Christians who are desperately crying out for help with serious problems, or for deliverance from fears, worries, and anxieties, as well as from habits, addictions, and obsessions of every kind.
*The term unknown does not occur in the original, but was added by the translators. These are true languages (although unknown to the speaker) which the Spirit-filed believer speaks supernaturally; they are recognizable as such by those who speak any of these particular languages or tongues, as Acts 2:6,11; 10:46 clearly indicate.
Innumerable Christians find themselves spiritually unfruitful, confused, and frustrated. Why is this? It is the result of the sin of neglect of the Holy Spirit. The church has made the "Blessed Comforter" a doctrine in its creed, instead of a personal experience, which Christ insisted the believer must receive if he is to be spiritually strong and fruitful, and victorious over the powers of darkness (John 14:12-26; Acts 1:4-8; 2:1-4; Mark 16:16-18; I Corinthians 12; 140.
The institutional church spends a good deal of time trying to defend its unscriptural position that a Christian receives the baptism in the Holy Spirit (automatically and inevitably and without tongues) at the time of his conversion, and that the baptism is not a definite spiritual experience subsequent to salvation.
It contends, moreover, that speaking in tongues is not for this dispensation, completely ignoring the plain fact that the Scriptures teach to the contrary (Isaiah 28:11-12 Mark 16:17; Acts 2:1-4 with 38-39; Romans 8:26-27; I Corinthians 12:1ff.; 14:1-5,27-28,39; Ephesians 6:18; Jude 20).
What God intends for us to see in these passages goes completely beyond all pety arguments as to whether or not Christians today can have the baptism of the Holy Spirit without speaking in tongues, for He stresses here the essential need for Christians to speak in tongues. It is to be the means by which the believer enters into spiritual "rest," witnesses effectively, making intercession on behalf of himself and others, worships God in the Spirit, and builds himself up in the faith.
God has provided a "rest" for the believer so that when he faces weariness, sickness, and trial, when he is tempted to doubt, fear, or panic in an emergency, when emotional stress or problems tend to overwhelm him, he can minister to himself by praying in the Spirit. The obvious importance of this cannot be gainsaid.
In one instance with which I am personally acquainted, the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the ability to pray in tongues enabled a grief-stricken wife and mother to endure the shock of a traumatic experience which was so severe that at first it almost drove her to insanity. Through this tragic experience she learned the value and purpose of praying in tongues, and was able to enter into a spiritual place of rest which praying with the intellect did not give and could not provide.
She related to us one evening, "My husband's recent death from cancer, after a prolonged illness, left me with the care of our son and daughter. While still recovering from my bereavement, I experienced another loss even more tragic. Returning home from church one evening, I failed to see my twelve year old son, who had stayed home that night. A short time later I opened the closet door and was horrified to find him hanging there strangled to death. (Without going into details, she related how this was without doubt an accident).
"The shock, coming so soon after my husband's death, nearly drove me out of my mind for a while. However, I was able to remain relatively calm during the funeral, after which I felt compelled to excuse myself and get away from my relatives who were with me at home. All this pent-up grief and pain had to come out, and I knew that it was going to be released through the Spirit. Realizing my relatives would not understand if I began praying or travailing in tongues, and would probably think I was beside myself with grief, I left the house so I could be alone. As I walked and prayed in the Spirit, all my pent-up troubles and grief poured forth from my lips in other tongues as my spirit sought relief from this great burden.
"I continued walking and praying for some time, while all my pain and grief poured out as a great flood in other tongues. Then, after a while, I began to experience a great peace and assurance, and found that I was being strengthened spiritually. As I prayed in tongues, my heart commenced to rejoice and praise the Lord to such an extent that I had to cover my face with a scarf upon entering the house for fear that my relatives would think that I had lost my mind to find me rejoicing at such a time as this."
This illustrates perfectly how, through prayer in the Spirit, a Spirit-filled believer was able to enter into the spiritual rest which God has provided for the charismatic Christian. God has made this supernatural rest available through the experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit; and that Christian is poor indeed who, because of pride of wrong teaching on the matter, allows Satan to rob him of the baptism in the Spirit, and this personal ministry to himself through prayer in the Spirit. Churches are filled with people who have failed to enter into their rest for the same reason Israel failed to enter into her rest--unbelief (Hebrews 3:18; I Corinthians 14:21).
Multitudes of Christians, because of their rejection of the baptism of the Spirit, will never know the spiritual rest that charismatic Christians may experience, for example, in time of trial, and temptation, or when some crisis confronts them, or when their hearts are burdened or almost overwhelmed with grief. There are times when the Spirit-filled Christian cannot pray as he ought with the intellect because he is undergoing a physical attack. Satan invariably suggests the worst about the condition, but as the Christian prays in the Spirit, his mind is free from the enemy's attempts to assault with doubts and fears.
Frequently, when traveling on a plane or train with others who are drinking and smoking, and the air is filled with worldly conversation so that it is almost impossible to concentrate upon spiritual things in order to pray with the understanding, the Spirit-filled believer finds that he can close his eyes to all these distraction and relax as he enters into a spiritual rest by praying in the Spirit. When he is tired in both mind and body, and too weary to concentrate, the charismatic believer can pray with his spirit, for there is no weariness or reluctance in the Spirit. This is the significance of Jesus' words to His disciples who had fallen asleep when He had asked them to watch and pray, saying, "the spirit in indeed willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41).
In such instances as these, as well as others, those without the baptism in the Holy Spirit, who pray only withthe mind, or who pray when the circumstances are favorable generally cannot pray, and are unable to enter into rest. Many times we have had the privilege of seeing those who were confused and bewildered, or depressed and defeated, immediately transformed into radiant, joyful Christians upon receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit and entering into this glorious spiritual rest in the Lord as they began to speak in tongues. Truly, "this is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing" (Isaiah 28:12).
C. Personal Intercession
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities:for we know not what we should pray for as we ought:but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered, And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27.
Certainly there are matters about which we should pray with the understanding; however, Spirit-filled Christians have been endowed with the ability to make supernatural intercession on their behalf in a manner that is always effective. The above text informs us that as we pray in the Spirit the Holy Spirit is making intercession for us according to the will of God; thus, prayer in the Spirit should always take precedence over praying with the intellect.
The Spirit's intercession is always effective on our behalf because it is in perfect harmony with God's will; so, we should pray in the Spirit about our needs, "for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
This does not mean that the Holy Spirit does our praying for us, but that He inspires our utterance in tongues with effective intercession. The Greek term signifies "inexpressible groaning or sighing." It is prayer in the Spirit which cannot be uttered in articulate speech but consists of inspired utterance from the Spirit through us to God on our behalf.
Sometimes even when we think that we know how to pray about some situation or need as we ought, actually we may be asking God to do what is contrary to His will and purpose for us, as we do not always know all the circumstances involved. At best we know only in part; we know only what little we have seen, read about, or learned in school and by experience, and this is extremely limited. We cannot know anything which lies outside our narrow and restricted sphere of learning and experience. For this reason prayer with the mind or intellect is limited only to that which we know--which is very little compared to all that we do not know--even about ourselves.
Thus, when we pray in tongues, even that which we do not know about is being dealt with, and dealt with perfectly according to the will of God. Because of this, and in view of the fact that prayer in the Spirit is always effective, I have found in my own experience that it is much more rewarding if I pray in the Spirit about eightyfive percent of the time, limiting prayer with the mind to the remainder. The importance of prayer in the Spirit cannot be overemphasized when considered in terms of spiritual power and effectiveness.*
Because of out limited knowledge, we sometimes do not know how to pray about certain situations as we ought. This has been demonstrated time and again to me. In one instance, God gave me a dream in which I saw my daughters lying in caskets. I was immediately awakened, and without understanding the significance of this, I began to pray in the Spirit for them. A short time later they were in a serious automobile accident. They could have easily been killed, but through this intercession in the Spirit they were miraculously preserved.
*We are not referring in this discussion to the prayer of faith regarding the promises of God, since in such cases God has already revealed His will to us in the matter through His Word. The prayer of faith, when we know God's will, is offered with the understanding or mind, specifically claiming what we need in simple faith (Matthew 7: 7-8; Mark 11;24; I John 5:14-15).
In another instance, prayer in the Spirit prepared me spiritually for a conflict that lay ahead, of which I was unaware at the time. Often when we pray in the Spirit, matters about which we do not know are dealt with as the Holy spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God. I had been asked to consider speaking in a denominational church on the present-day charismatic revival, telling the people about the baptism in the Spirit, speaking in tongues, and the miraculous things we were witnessing today. The church, of course, followed the general misconception that such things are not valid for this age.
I said that I would be willing to come and relate my experience, but I had no interest in going to some denominational church merely to debate these matters. However, if they were sincerely interested, I would come. They assured me that this would be the case.
Because of my full speaking schedule, my teaching ministry is generally limited to charismatic Christians who are eager to be taught the deeper truths and end-time message. Since this was to be a meeting in a denominational church telling them of things which they had been taught were not valid for today, I did not know how to pray as I ought; hence, I prayed in the Spirit concerning the meeting. It was good that I did in view of what transpired.
I had some of the young people from our church speak first; and then, after giving my testimony concerning the charismatic revival today, I was informed that I was not the only speaker scheduled, but that the leaders of the church had, contrary to their promise, asked a denominational speaker to come and attempt to refute all that I had said. The meeting was then to be concluded with a debate based upon questions from the audience. Once, again I saw the value of having prayed in the Spirit, since I could not have known how to pray as I ought about circumstances hidden from me. Instead of reacting as one normally might have done upon learning of their deceit, and becoming irritated or argumentative, or perhaps storming out of the meeting in righteous indignation, the Holy Spirit had spiritually prepared me for this inwardly, enabling me to remain and minister in love to the people during the concluding time of debate.
As a consequence, the people responded to our testimony, as well as to my answers to their questions, some even receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit! Moreover, they seemed to recognize that our message inspired life and joy, while the arguments of the other speakers had ministered death and unbelief, since his message was merely a restatement of the same old denominational position of unbelief which they had heard all their lives.
When Christians pray with the intellect (and there is a time for this of course) the mind selects the needs to pray about, as well as the words and ideas we wish to express. Sometimes, however, especially in cases of serious problems, trials, or needs, we may miss the real need or not understand the will of God in the matter, and, as a result, pray amiss. Moreover, there are times when God purposely does not let us understand too much about the matter so that we are compelled to pray in the Spirit about it, in order that we do not pray amiss or hinder His purpose in some other way.
Without a doubt I would not have gone to the aforementioned meeting had I known beforehand of their deceit; or if I would have gone, I may have prayed that God would anoint me like Elijah to rebuke their treachery. However, by praying in the Spirit, God prepared me spiritually so that I could minister to them in love, thus enabling Him to fulfill His purpose in this particular situation.
2. Devotional Ministry to God
For he that speaketh in a tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. I Corinthians 14;2
Did you know that God desires for you to minister to Him? In what manner? By adoration, thanksgiving, and praise. He knows the limitations of our finite minds to praise and worship Him effectively with the intellect; thus, He has provided us with supernatural utterance in the Spirit. Every Christian has felt his inadequacy and helplessness to express the praise, thanksgiving, and adoration which well up within his heart.
How many times you have struggled, trying to express with your intellect what you felt in your heart toward the Lord, finally giving up the effort! Sometimes you lament, "Lord, you see what is in my heart, but there just aren't adequate words to express my love and gratitude." This will help to explain why He has given us, through the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the supernatural ability to worship Him in the Spirit by praying in tongues.
No matter how much we may try to communicate our love, gratitude, and praise to God with the intellect, we find that it is impossible for us to express the soul's deepest feelings and emotions in this manner. This is the significance of Wesley's plea in his immortal hymn "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing My Great Redeemer's Praise." Wesley had experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit (as did Luther, Moody, Finney, R. A. Torrey, and all the other great spiritual leaders in history), and he refers in his hymn, not to a thousand voices in a church choir singing praises to God, but he is expressing his own desire for such an anointing by the Spirit that he can sing God's praises in a thousand new tongues.
God wants us to minister, not just to others, but also to Him. This is the significance of the statement in Acts 13:2, where we are informed that Paul, with others in the church at Antioch, "ministered to the Lord." The evening in which I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit I began to speak in a beautiful language by the anointing of the Spirit, and continued speaking for about two hours. The remarkable thing was that I was fully aware my utterance in new tongues was praise unto the Lord all this time, although my intellect did not know what language I was speaking.
One of the basic reasons God is pouring out His Spirit today is that He not only wants a church which can pray with power and effectiveness, but one which can also praise Him effectively. Praise through the Spirit is the only way this can be done. Prayer which eliminates praise altogether is not too effective anyway. The prayer of faith will move mountains to be sure (Mark 11:23), but praise will move God (II Chronicles 20:21-24)
The devil will flee if you command him: he will also flee if you praise God! In fact, if you will begin to praise God more, you will find that you will have to rebuke the devil less. God will answer the prayer of faith as He promises (Mark 11:24), but praise will often hasten the answer. A child who asks a parent to meet some need will generally receive what he needs, but the child who mixes some real love and thanksgiving with his request will usually get his answer sooner.
The contemporary church has largely lost its power and effectiveness because it no longer accepts the validity of the baptism in the Spirit and speaking in tongues; and, as a consequence, it not longer has the anointing and spirit of praise. One of the surest ways for a church to lose both its power and spiritual effectiveness is to allow Satan to quench the spirit of praise. Both Israel and the early church knew the secret of effectiveness and victory over Satan--praising the Lord!
The term "Praise" and the command to "praise the Lord" occur over 200 times in the Scriptures. Why? God tells us in Psalm 50:23: "Whoso offereth praise glorifeth me." Every Christian believes that he will praise the Lord in the age to come, but God wants to hear it now. Thus, the Psalmist declares: "Praise ye the Lord, Praise the Lord, O my soul. WHILE I LIVE will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God WHILE I HAVE ANY BEING" (Psalm 146:1-2).
Some Christians without the baptism contend that they believe in praising God, but that they do so silently in the heart. However, the Scriptures inform us that "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Thus, if there is true praise in the heart, then it will have to come out of the mouth for all the commands in Scripture are for the vocal expression of praise. God cannot be glorified by so-called "silent praise" any more than a sinner could be saved by a "silent witness."
Anyone should be able to see that the term "silent praise" is a contradiction. The Scriptures tell us that we are to come into God's presence with a joyful noise of praise (Psalm 100;98:4f.); with the clapping of hands (Psalm 47:1); and that we are to do this at all times (Psalm 34:1; 35:28; Acts 2:46-47; Hebrews 13:15).
God wants us to praise Him simply because we love Him; we are to praise Him as an end in itself--not as a means to an end. God is to be praised simply because He is God and deserves to be praised, and not merely because we need something from Him, such as healing, financial help, or deliverance from some problem or trial. Although we should praise Him in anticipation of His provision for such needs nevertheless, if we limit our praise to such times we may find that our needs may not be met.
God will not let us use Him as a celestial Santa Claus. The highest form of praise stems from the purest motives, as can be seen, for example, in the praise of thePsalmist, who exclaims, "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee" (Psalm 73:25).
God is to be praised for His own sake; He Himself, being God, is sufficient reason for praising Him. Any other reason for which you praise Him--for healing, health salvation, deliverance or for temporal blessing--is simply to be the result of your gratitude for God Himself. He loves His children for their own sake; He needs no reason for loving you other than the fact that you are His child.
This is likewise to be the basis of your love and praise of Him. Your praise is to be free of any selfish motive. You should not wait until the car is bogged down in the mud or snow, or until you are seriously ill, or in desperate need of something. You should praise God at all times as sufficient end in itself, because He deserves your praise and because you love Him for His own sake.
Because of the limitation of the finite mind and intellect, God has given unto His children the supernatural ability to minister unto Him in worship and praise through prayer in the Spirit; for only in this way can the deepest purest feelings, and emotions of the soul be expressed. Those Christians who reject speaking in tongues because they feel that there may be some stigma associated with this experience will certainly never be able to minister to God as He expects. We are informed in Acts 10:46 that it was through this means that the Gentiles were also able to minister to God, "For they heard them speak with tongues, and MAGNIFY GOD" (cf. Acts 2:11; I Corinthians 14:2).
3. Ministry on Behalf of Others
Why speak in tongues? Because, through prayer in the Spirit we are able to fulfill our responsibility of ministry to others. Praying in tongues is not, as those without the baptism sometimes suppose, merely some dubious exercise for personal edification. It is dispensable if the believer is to be effective in his ministry on behalf of the Body of Christ, as well as to the unsaved. This ministry includes intercession, edification, and occasionally supernatural witness.
A. Spiritual Intercession
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. Ephesians 6:18
Praying in the Spirit is the means by which the Spirit- filled believer intercedes for himself (Romans 8:26-27). But here in Ephesians 6:18 we see that praying in the Spirit is also a supernatural ministry of intercession on behalf of other saints. The importance of intercession in the Spirit on behalf of others cannot be emphasized too strongly. Just as we see in Romans 8:26-27, that often we do not know how to pray for our own needs as we ought, and the Spirit must make intercession for us, so it is with regard to our prayers on behalf of others. However, as we in faith commit them to the Lord and pray for them in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit makes intercession on their behalf through us according to the will of God. This does not, of course, eliminate all need of prayer with the understanding on behalf of others, but is does insure effective intercession for them, especially in times of trial and need.
An accident was related to me one evening where I was ministering, which illustrates how prayer in the Spirit can result in effective intercession on another's behalf. The friend of a Spirit-filled Christian woman had incurred a serious head injury as the result of an automobile accident and was confined to her bed. Because of her friend's serious condition, she did not know how to pray for her as she ought. Therefore, she began to pray for her in tongues, and continued interceding for her for a number of hours in the Spirit.
"Imagine my surprise," she said, "when shortly thereafter I answered a knock at the door, to find this same individual for whom I was praying standing before me." "Have you been praying for me? she inquired. "Why, yes, as a matter of fact I have," she replied. "Well, I thought so, for as I lay there I felt something lift from me, and I am much better as a result!"
They talked together for a while, and then, as she left, the Spirit-filled woman gave her one of my books on faith, and recommended that she read it. Later, as she was reading the chapter on "How to Receive the Holy Spirit," she was filled with the Spirit and suddenly began to speak in tongues! Clearly prayer with the understanding as such a time would, at best, have been limited to the injured person's physical need, as intercession on her behalf for the infilling of the Spirit was the remotest thing from her mind. As we pray in the Spirit for other saints, needs that we do not know about, and which are often more important than those for which we pray, are also dealt with effectively.
The ministry of intercession is of extreme importance, for this is the ministry Jesus chose when He ascended to the right hand of God (Hebrews 7:20-25). By virtue of the baptism in the Spirit and praying in tongues this ministry can also be ours (Ephesians 6:18). As we pray in the Spirit regularly each day, we may not always be aware of all those for whom the Spirit may be interceding, nor what the need may be for which we are praying. However, this is of no real consequence, as prayer in the Spirit bypasses the intellect anyway.
At such times we may be interceding for a loved one who has some real personal problem and is in need of special prayer; we may be interceding for the pastor who is undergoing some difficult trial; it may be intercession for the President or government leaders who are facing a serious crisis and need to make the correct decision; or, as frequently happens, it may be in behalf of someone who is in need of God's help, whom He plans to send to you, or you to them in order to fulfill that need.
I recall an instance when a Spirit-filled missionary was used this way. She said she had been speaking in several churches in another country. One night after the service she went to bed, but was awakened later and felt compelled to pray in the Spirit. This lasted several hours during which time she cried out for the Lord to show what this meant, but without success.
In the morning a young Christian man who had heard her speak the night before came to ask for her help about a matter over which he could not gain the victory. She informed him that not even a Christian could have complete victory without the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and that this was the answer to his need. Upon hearing this, he asked for prayer to receive the Spirit. As he began to pray in new tongues and rejoice in the Lord, God spoke directly to the missionary, saying, "This is the reason for the battle last night!" Then it was that she understood the meaning of the texts concerning the believer's intercession on behalf of the saints according to the will of God.
Since she had not known the young man or his need, she could scarcely have prayed for him with her understanding. However, the Spirit knew him and his need. As she yielded in prayer, the Holy Spirit was able to pray effectively through her on behalf of the young man, and then send him to her to receive the fulfillment of his need. As she yielded in prayer, the Holy Spirit was able to pray effectively through her on behalf of the young man, and then send him to her to receive the fulfillment of his need. Again, a day later an evangelist sought her out with the same need, and he too received the Holy Spirit as a consequence of her time of intercession for the unknown needs of others, especially in such instances where we do not even know for whom we are making intercession; but the Spirit knows all things, and when we pray in tongues, even that which we do not know is dealt with.
B. Edification of the Body of Christ
Forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. Wherefore let him that speaketh in a tongue pray that he may interpret. I Corinthians 14:12-13
By prayer in the Spirit men are enabled to speak supernaturally to God (I Corinthians 14:2); but the ability to speak in tongues also enables God to speak supernaturally to men. Edification of oneself by the devotional use of tongues is a great personal blessing and an important ministry on our own behalf, but by the use of the gift of tongues the believer becomes a minister to the whole Body of Christ. Through the exercise of tongues and the companion gift of interpretation, the Spirit is able to impart revelation to the church for its edification and comfort.
The gift of tongues is quite prevalent today, as it was in Corinth in apostlic times. Many charismatic Christians can speak with divers kinds of tongues (I Corinthians 12:10), not being limited to the single devotional language which is the sign of the baptism. They can and should desire to use this gift for the edification of the church (I Corinthans 14;12-13, 26-27). According to I Corinthians 12:7, every Spirit-filled believer has been given some gift or manifestation of the Spirit. God has set each member in the Body for the purpose of ministering to the rest of the church (12:18-31); therefore, each member must make certain that he does not neglect his gift (I Timothy 4:14), but that he stirs up the gift of God (II Timothy 1:6, and yields himself to the Spirit for the manifestation of the gift. The gifts of supernatural utterance (prophecy, tongues, and interpretation) have been set in the church for its edification and should never be neglected nor forbidden (I Corinthians 12:10,28,31; 14;5,12-13,18,26-27,39; I Thessalonians 5;19).
God did not set any useless or unnecessary gifts in the church. Where the utterance gifts are neglected or discouraged, that body of believers suffers as a result. The preaching of the Word often lacks power and anointing, and there is an absence of real joy and freedom in the praise and worship.
C. A Supernatural Sign to Unbelievers
In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not. I Corinthians 14:21-22
Occasionally, speaking in tongues becomes a supernatural sign to unbelievers as we see, for instance, on the day of Pentecost when the unbelieving Jews heard the disciples speaking in tongues and asked: "What meaneth this?" As a direct result of the interest which was aroused because of their hearing this supernatural utterance, three thousand were converted. There are numerous instances in the present-day outpouring of the Spirit in which God has used supernatural utterance in tongues to convince unbelievers of the truth. John Sherrill, for example, cites some examples of this fact in his widely read book, They Speak With Other Tongues.
I recall several years ago when a certain man and woman were saved and baptized in the Spirit in a meeting where I was speaking. After the service they conferred with me about their concern for the salvation of their son who had been with them on the previous Sunday. They said that he had violently opposed my message on the presentday charismatic revival and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I had also observed this resistance as I preached. However, we agreed in prayer for his salvation (Matthew 18:19). Two days later the young man asked if I would come to see him about an important matter. Upon my arrival I saw at once that a great change had taken place, for he was radiant and filled with joy.
"Let me tell you what happened," he exclaimed. "I was alone in my room last night when the Lord began to deal with me about my spiritual condition, convicting me of my sins. As a result, I have repented and given my heart to Jesus!"
"Well, praise the Lord," I replied, inwardly thanking God for such a quick manifestation of the answer to our prayer of faith in his behalf. And then what he said next was even more remarkable, for it revealed the unusual manner in which God had been able to reach him with the truth, although he had rejected the same Word when I had preached it the previous Sunday.
"The thing that really convinced me that there is something to all this," he continued, "is not only the wonderful change it has made in my Mother's personality, but it was hearing her speak in new tongues. Why, she can't even speak grammatically correct English, but you should hear her speak Hebrew by the Spirit!" (I had informed her that I had recognized her new tongue as Hebrew, as I used to teach Hebrew in the seminary).
Then looking directly at me, he said: "The reason that I asked you to come see me is that I too want to receive this experience which my mother and father have. Will you pray for me to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit?"
As I prayed for him, he began to speak in new tongues, worshipping the Lord as the Spirit gave him utterance. He had been saved and filled with the Spirit as a direct result of seeing the manifestation of the sign of tongues, which had been the means of convincing him of the truth-- "Wherefore tongues are for a sign...to them that believe not." Spirit-filled Christians, therefore, should not be reticent about speaking in tongues in public services when unbelievers or non-charismatic Christians are present, if the Spirit so moves them. Not infrequently this sign has been used by the Spirit to convict the lost, as well as convince the unlearned concerning the present-day charismatic outpouring of the Spirit.
With regard to the latter, recently I prayed for a young woman to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit where I was speaking, and she immediately began to speak in new tongues. A woman in the audience came up to her and said: "Here is my card. If you ever doubt that you spoke a true language by the Spirit, call me and I will tell you that I heard you speaking in Spanish, as I have studied the language. I have been on the fence about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, thinking perhaps there was nothing to it really, and that so-called tongues were just emotional gibberish--but let me tell you I am now fully convinced that all this is genuine!" The sign of tongues is still being used by the Spirit to convict the lost and convince the gainsayers of the validity of a supernatural, charismatic Christianity for this dispensation.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not an experience that one must seek and tarry for months or years to receive. It is to be received by faith (Galatians 3:2,14). Countless hundreds have received the baptism in the Spirit by following the simple steps outlined below.
The Scriptural evidence of having received the baptism in the Holy Spirit is the sign of speaking with a new tongue as the Spirit gives you the words to utter (Acts 2:4; 10:44-46; 19:1-6; Mark 16:17). In Acts 2:4 we are informed that they "began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance." The Spirit gives you the utterance, but you must do the uttering or speaking. Determine not to speak a word of English at this time (as you cannot speak two languages at once). Therefore, do not try to praise God with the understanding, but lift up the sound of your voice and the Holy Spirit will begin to give you phrases and words supernaturally in other tongues.
Do not be concerned about, "what to say," as the Holy Spirit language does not come from the mind or intellect, but through the spirit as the Holy Spirit anoints you to speak what He gives. In faith, you must put your vocal or speech faculties into operation as you do in speaking any lang- uage. However, in this case, it is the Holy Spirit who will give you the words to speak.
Remember, receiving the Holy Spirit is an act of faith; and this promise is to be appropriated in the same way as all of God's promises are, such as salvation, healing, and so on. Some have failed to receive because they have not understood this fact and were looking first of all for some "feeling," "anointing," or "emotional experience" before they would believe that they had received the baptism. We are to receive the Holy Spirit by faith; and then as we act on our faith, the evidence and assurance will certainly follow.