On the day of Pentecost, about 120 of Jesus’ disciples were gathered together in an upper room, waiting upon the Lord and seeking His face. Acts 2:2-4 tells us what happened next:
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Jesus had instructed the disciples to “wait for the promise of the Father” (the Holy Spirit) and that they would be “baptized with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 1:4, 5). He had told them that, “You shall receive power, after the Holy Ghost has come upon you …” (Acts 1:8).
The early Church understood that receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was essential in the life of every Christian if they were to have the power they needed to carry out the Great Commission. There are many other instances recorded in Acts of believers receiving the infilling of the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in tongues. No two incidences of how it happened were exactly alike, but although the tongues of fire and the mighty wind manifestations were not mentioned again, speaking in tongues seems to have been consistently a part of the picture. The evidence of tongues was how Peter and the men with him knew that the gentiles in Cornelius’ house had been filled with the Spirit: “For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God…” (Acts 10:46). Acts 19:2, 6 tells us of some disciples in Ephesus who had not yet “received the Holy Ghost, … and when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came upon them, and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied.”
In 1 Corinthians 12-14, Paul instructs the Church at great length about using the gifts of the Spirit appropriately. Quite a bit of his teaching is specifically about the gift of tongues. Yet, the modern-day Church is deeply divided about whether tongues should even be accepted or used anymore! In some circles, every one of the other gifts of the Spirit that are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 is accepted and encouraged, but the gift of tongues is not. Why? I believe it is because the enemy of our souls trembles when believers use this powerful tool — particularly in our prayer lives.
There is a distinction between using the gift of tongues in the corporate worship setting to build up the Body of Christ, and using it in our private prayer life. Not every believer will be moved upon by the Spirit to speak out publicly in tongues. However, every baptized-in-the-Spirit child of God has the ability and the responsibility to use tongues regularly in personal prayer. We often refer to this use of tongues as our “prayer language.”
In this series, I will be mainly addressing the gift of tongues as used in personal prayer. We’ll take a look at the many benefits of tongues for our personal lives, how it aids us in praying accurately, and why it is a powerful weapon in our spiritual warfare. Because I am an intercessor above all other functions in the Body of Christ, I will be tackling things from an intercessor’s perspective.
Please stay tuned.