There is a cry inside most of us to hear God speak to us. He wants to fulfill this longing. One of the names by which He reveals Himself is “He Who Speaks” (Isaiah 52:6). But a lot of people still struggle with learning to hear and know God’s voice. One of the best ways to hear accurately from God is by praying in tongues and then receiving the interpretation. I discovered this technique a few years ago, and it has truly enhanced my ability to hear God and to know how to pray. Here’s how it works for me:
I pray a lot in tongues. When I pray, I often switch back and forth between my prayer language and English. I have learned to pay close attention to what I pray in English in between praying in tongues, because often it is something I would not know to pray in my natural mind. It is actually an interpretation of what I have already been covering in my prayer language; it is fresh revelation from the Spirit Himself. Interpretation may come as a phrase we pray out loud, a Scripture verse, a thought on how to pray, a word of knowledge, or even a picture or vision.
For instance, once while praying for a pastor-friend in tongues, I clearly heard the thought in my mind, “praying for the unexpected.” I did not understand what it was about, but I continued to pray along the lines of preparing him for something unexpected. About three weeks down the road, he experienced some very unpleasant circumstances that he had not foreseen. But the way was prepared before him in intercessory prayer so that he could handle the event when it happened.
Another time I was praying for a loved one who was going through difficulties, and I was very concerned about receiving a good outcome for him. The words, “God who performs all things for him” flowed out in English in the middle of my prayer language. It was the Holy Spirit’s reminder of a Scripture verse, Psalm 57:2 – “I will cry unto God most high; unto God who performs all things for me.” The Holy Spirit was using my prayer language to pray that God would take care of his need, and by interpreting the prayer for me, He was also assuring me that everything was going to be all right.
At still another time I was praying for my pastor for his upcoming sermon. After praying in tongues for a bit, I was startled to hear myself speak in English, “God, help him with his sermon on brokenness.” He had not informed me what his sermon was to be about, but it turned out to be exactly that. God was interpreting my prayer language and giving me a word of knowledge.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:13-15, “… let him who speaks in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also….” Those of us who are Pentecostal or Charismatic understand that when a message is given publicly in tongues, an interpretation should be given. However, few of us were ever taught that this is a normal part of using our prayer language privately as well.
If you have trouble hearing the voice of God, try asking Him to interpret for you what you are saying in your prayer language. In addition, because we are communing with God on a spirit-to-Spirit level when we pray in tongues, it opens us up to revelation of other sorts. You will find that you are more prone to having godly, creative ideas flow in your thoughts when you have been praying in tongues. You may receive visions. Your understanding and wisdom will increase.
I’ll have a few more thoughts on the power of our prayer language in the next post, and then we’ll be done.
Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual