Praying in Tongues

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'Descent of Holy Spirit on the Apostles' by Mikhail Vrubel, 1885Speaking in tongues.

Just mentioning tongues gives many people pause. Tell others you speak in tongues and the stares come out. Talk about glossolalia (the fancy term for speaking in tongues) in polite company (heck, any company) and you’ll be branded forever. It’s not enough that being a Christian separates you from other people, speaking in tongues separates you from other Christians, as a minority of Christians today in the West care to deal with tongues. In short, if you’re in a group and desire to be left alone, talk excitedly about speaking in tongues.

What the Bible says:

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
—1 Corinthians 12:7-11 ESV

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
—1 Corinthians 12:27-30 ESV

For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.
—1 Corinthians 14:2-5 ESV

I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.
—1 Corinthians 14:18 ESV

So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order.
—1 Corinthians 14:39-40 ESV

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
—Romans 8:26-27 ESV

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.
—1 Corinthians 14:14-15 ESV

{emphases mine…see below}

I quoted a lot from 1 Corinthians. In truth, reading chapters 12-14 of that book are  essential for understanding the Bible’s teaching on this spiritual gift of tongues (and the other gifts too).

Unpacking truths and realities about speaking in tongues

  • 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 and 1 Corinthians 12:27-30 seem clear to me (though not to all Pentecostals, for certain) that the spiritual gifts a person receives from God vary according to God’s purposes. God apportions gifts as He alone sees fit. Paul’s many “do all?” qualifiers appear to me quite obvious that the answer to his rhetorical question is no. No, not everyone fills every Church office or has every spiritual gift. So despite what many of my Pentecostal brethren believe, I don’t think that tongues is an automatic gift for everyone. Paul’s desire that everyone speaks in tongues may be wish fulfillment more than anything else given that he already notes that Spirit-endowed believers don’t always manifest all the gifts. That the early Church had its clear prophets and nonprophets says that when Paul wishes everyone would prophesy, that was not the case for everyone either. Feel free to disagree with me here, but I don’t see those verses mentioned as supporting all gifts for all people at all times. And that includes tongues.
  • That said, we should always desire all the gifts, even if we do not receive them all. I can’t support this thought fully from Scripture, but I would not rule out that God may impart a gift for a season or for a specific need at a specific time—but don’t quote me on that.
  • As for “my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful,” science actually backs this up. PET scans of tongue-speaker’s brains shows none of the intense activity related to language when a person is speaking in tongues. Even more surprising is that a person faking speaking in tongues DOES show high-level language activity. So clearly, something is going on that is beyond natural when a person speaks in tongues. (See “A Neuroscientific Look at Speaking in Tongues” and “Why We Talk in Tongues,” both New York Times articles and NOT from Charisma Magazine.)
  • That latter NYT article above notes a recent Pew Research Center  survey that claimed 18% of Americans spoke in tongues several times in a year. If so, that’s one of the most underreported spiritual facts I’ve ever noted. We’re talking almost one-fifth of the American populace—and that’s just those who self-reported.
  • Paul writes, “Do not forbid speaking in tongues.” That ends any arguments right there. Sadly, that may be the most ignored Scriptural command in the Bible.
  • Tongues comes last or near last in lists of spiritual gifts in the Scriptures. While it’s the most obvious supernatural gift due to its vocal nature, Paul also downplays some of its importance by placing it a distant finisher in importance to prophecy.
  • While the most commonly considered use of tongues is to build up the Church through the combo gift of the interpretation of tongues (so the tongues may bless everyone, even those who do not understand them otherwise), Paul also mentions praying in tongues. And that’s the gist of this post.

Praying in tongues: the what, the why, and three benefits

What is praying in tongues? It’s using the gift of tongues in one’s prayer life, whether in private or in public prayer for others. Pretty simple.

Why pray in tongues? Well, we have the example of Paul and his other notes to us on the function of this gift. Since Paul writes his readers that he is worthy of being imitated (1 Corinthians 4:16), if he prays in tongues, then so should we.

And what are some benefits of praying in tongues?

  • Praying in tongues is a means of continuing in prayer when normal words fail. I endorse that fully. Sometimes, as the Scriptures say, we don’t know how to pray. Tongues removes that roadblock. As noted, the language centers of the brain get bypassed, going around the roadblock. This is a truly spiritual event. It’s the Spirit of God in us teaming with our spirit to connect with the Father and get to the root of a matter. Think of it as broadband rather than dial-up. (I will add that for those who do not have the gift of tongues, perhaps their normal prayer life is naturally more fruitful as is OR they are less likely to find themselves stymied in prayer.)
  • Praying in tongues regularly produces immediate well-being. Though I should be used to it by now, I am regularly surprised how quickly praying in tongues can improve a situation, especially if it is personal and related to mood or physical health. “The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself” is most definitely true! When praying in tongues by oneself, peace is often the first feeling encountered. This reflects God’s mercy and is one of the strongest reasons that we should pray in tongues. Heaven knows we all need more peace in our lives.
  • Praying in tongues will take us deeper. Because this is spirit to Spirit communication, and the Spirit of God searches all things, praying in tongues may address deep-seated issues in an individual. This includes granting spiritual healing and release from habitual sin. Those roadblocks mentioned earlier? Not all are language. They may be keeping spiritual ground from being plowed, unusable as is for planting good things from God. Tongues cut through and may help break up that fallow ground in a person’s life. Much good comes from allowing God to work in us through tongues. Again, we allow God to build us up through this gift.

Many more benefits exist for praying in tongues, but as I see it, these three are indisputable and indispensable. Please feel free to share your wisdom in this or your own positive personal experiences with tongues in the comments below.

28 thoughts on “Praying in Tongues

  1. Dan,

    About this quote:

    1 Corinthians 12:7-11 and 1 Corinthians 12:27-30 seem clear to me (though not to all Pentecostals, for certain) that the spiritual gifts a person receives from God vary according to God’s purposes. God apportions gifts as He alone sees fit. Paul’s many “do all?” qualifiers appear to me quite obvious that the answer to his rhetorical question is no. No, not everyone fills every Church office or has every spiritual gift. So despite what many of my Pentecostal brethren believe, I don’t think that tongues is an automatic gift for everyone.

    While you’re right that not everyone, maybe not even many, has 1 Corinthians 12 gifting, I wouldn’t categorize the tongues we see in Acts, particularly Act 2, as the gift of tongues Paul is talking about here. While every Christian can be baptized in the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues, not all would be endowed with the gifting of tongues and interpretation. An analogy might be made with healing. While all Christians can pray for healing, only some are endowed with gifts of healing, distributed as the Spirit wills.

    My two cents.

    • Peter,

      Let me try to unpack what you’re saying for the non-Pentecostals reading your comment. Please correct me if I’m wrong (and I may be).

      I believe what you’re saying is a distinction exists between tongues (known languages) and tongues (unknown languages). The unknown language tongues are available to all Holy-Spirit-baptized believers, while speaking in known language tongues is the more “special” gift that Peter and Paul reference.

      I may attend a Pentecostal church, but I am not as steeped in Pentecostal theology as you are. For this reason, I’ve never been able to draw that same distinction. I know that I got into a huge discussion with someone else two years ago about this issue, but I could not follow his argument. I know you’re busy, but could you unpack that distinction more thoroughly? I know both my readers and I would appreciate it. Thanks.

      • Clint

        Dan, I believe I’ve heard Peter’s argument before from another dear Pentecostal brother. I believe it goes like this: there is a distinction between the private prayer language of tongues that is available to everyone and the ministry of tongues/interpretation for public use. 1 Cor. 12:27-30 is speaking of the latter. I don’t agree but that’s the general idea, I believe.

        • Clint sums it up pretty accurately. The baptism of the Spirit is for every believer, as proved by Acts 2 and other Acts passages. Paul expands on what you might call “baptism” tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 when he says that the tongue-speaker speaks not unto men, but unto God.

          In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul writes about ministry giftings (some call these offices). He includes tongues and interpretation in this section as these two combined form a ministry gifting in the same vein of gifts of hearings, words of knowledge, etc. They are ministry gifts in the sense they are manifested for others in the body of Christ or those outside the body. In other words, they’re not distributed by the Lord for personal edification.

          I hope that helps.

  2. Clint

    I’ve found that praying in tongues helps when I’ve battled depression. My wife used to remind me to “speak in tongues often.” It has always lifted my eyes from introspection to the Person and work of Jesus.

  3. I have to admit that i have never done anything that would remotely qualify as speaking in tongues and I am not sure that what we even know what that idea means. I am not sure I personally know of more than a couple of people who have experienced speaking in tongues. I understand that my experience is limited but it certainly seems to be something that most Christians have never experienced. Anyway, the verses in 1 Corinthians 14 you quote are bookends of something else Paul wrote:

    Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. (1 Cor 14:6-13)

    Paul appears to be cautioning here against unintelligible speech and speaks of “different languages in the world”. It sort of seems to me to be parallel to the tongue speaking in Acts 2 when the disciples were speaking, not in an unintelligible language but in their native tongues. I think some definition might be in order here, what exactly does it mean to “speak in tongues”. I am admittedly skeptical of what seems to be the standard manifestation so clarifying what you mean might be helpful.

    • Arthur,

      What Paul writes about in that section regards the public manifestation of tongues, specifically delivering words to the Church.

      This particular manifestation of tongues requires an interpreter. If someone stands up in church and speaks in tongues, Paul is saying that someone with the gift of interpretation of tongues needs to translate what is said to the rest of the church or else “if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air.

      Is it strange that God would choose to speak to the Church through someone in a language no one understands? Yes, actually, it is–IF no one interprets.

      But this is stranger still! Here is a gift that requires two people to make it actually beneficial to anyone!

      Then you start to see something. Here is a gift in which two people need each other. Remember all Paul wrote about being a Body where the parts need each other? Here are two gifts–tongues delivered in public AND interpretation of those tongues–that require each other. This is one part of the Body left useless without the other. I find that remarkable that God chose two gifts that show why Christians need to depend on each other, how we are a Body knit together.

      • Don Costello

        Dan, I have been in services where two people were used by the Lord, one speaking in tongues and another interpreting. I have also been in services where one person spoke in tongues and the same person interpreted.

    • Arthur,

      In Acts 2, you might notice that the Word doesn’t say that the disciples spoke in the hearers’ native languages. That might have been what the hearers heard, but not necessarily the tongues that were spoken. “And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?”

      The best description of tongues, the baptism of the Spirit kind, is found in 1 Corinthians 14: “For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God, for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit.” Paul boasted that he spoke in tongues more than anybody: “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.”

  4. Mr. Poet

    Three times in the book of Acts, all spoke with tongues: the day of Pentecost (Acts 2); when Cornelius and his servants were saved (Acts 10); and when the disciples of John the Baptist were saved (Acts 19).

    “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (1 Corinthians 12:7 KJV).

    When I was taught that I could receive a “prayer language,” this was one of the proof texts. In its immediate context, Paul wrote this:

    “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: ” (1 Corinthians 12:8-11 KJV).

    Now back to v. 7: “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” The gifts are sandwiched between this verse and v. 11: “…but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”

    In other words, while we may debate whether everyone can speak in tongues (and I myself differentiate between a prayer language, which everyone may receive as a gift from the Holy Ghost, and the gift of speaking in tongues, which is to be used in tandem with the interpretation of tongues for the edification of the Church), what often gets left out is that all of us who have received the Holy Spirit have received several of the above gifts. Not all, but several. So…if you do not have a prayer language (or do not speak in tongues), then what do you have? That often is left out in debates about the operation of tongues. If you say not all can speak in tongues, yet I can operate in a tongue in front of you, then what can you operate in front of me from the above list?

    I rest my conviction that all may receive a prayer language on Mark 16:

    “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17-18 KJV).

    Snake-handling and strychnine-drinking churches may have given this passage a bad rap, but nevertheless, I believe any believer has, say, received the power to cast out demons. What Pentecostal or, indeed, what Christian who still believes in devils personified would tell any believer that he or she does not have the power in Christ Jesus to force devils to leave? Now, if every believer has received the power to cast out demons, then why would he or she not be able to speak in tongues? or (if so built up in the faith and close to the Holy Spirit for this to happen) be doomed to be hurt from serpents and drinking deadly things if such circumstances came upon them, like the serpent that bit Paul? or not be able to expect healing when his or her hands are laid on the sick?

    That being said, “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (1 Corinthians 7:32 KJV). I never have felt led to speak a tongue, which would need interpretation, in a church service, although I could pray in tongues at any moment, including loudly in any service. It would lead to confusion and bring attention to myself in a way which would not benefit anyone, myself included, because although I would be edifying myself (1 Corinthians 14:4), it hardly would offset the proud display of “my” prayer language.

    I did, though, demonstrate “speaking in tongues” to an unsaved friend years ago so he could hear what it was like. But when I spoke, the words that came out sounded completely different from my “normal” prayer language. My friend, a Boy Scout, said it sounded like Navajo.

    “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” (Romans 8:26 KJV).

    As an aside, while this is cited often as a proof text for speaking in tongues and praying in tongues, and it is a good illustration of the general concept of praying in tongues because I have no idea what I should pray about at the moment, I do not think this refers to intercession in tongues, mainly because in Acts 2, the disciples “began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (v. 4).

    When I pray in tongues, I am uttering words. And I do not consider speaking words to be the same as groanings. I have witnessed what I considered to be intercessory groanings, done by a few believers on the floor of a church building during a week of revival, in which they were not interceding in English nor in tongues, but their abdomens were having spasms, and they were groaning. I never have seen anything like it since that time. I would consider Paul’s admonition to the Galatians to perhaps be an example of it: “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you” (Galatians 4:19 KJV). I do not consider this poetic license on Paul’s part to emphasize a point to them, but he really was travailing in prayer, interceding in such ways perhaps none of us have ever seen.

  5. Mere

    Hi Dan!

    I’m not much of a commenter (it usually gets me into trouble!) but I wanted to say I’m very grateful for your voice here, especially on the supernatural aspect of our faith.

    I first heard about you when I was reading Pyromaniacs, and I read some of your comments there supporting the gifts. Your responses were biblical and respectful, and caused me to follow the link to your blog.

    I’ve bookmarked your site, and have read here often. God has used you to help me think, and not just go with the groupthink around me. Thanks for taking the time and effort to publish your thoughts.

    I don’t have much to add to the dicusssion at hand, but to mention one of my favorite verses, 1 Cor 14:1, “…eagerly desire spiritual gifts…”

    I looked up the definition of desire, and then of eagerly.

    Desire

    – to want something very strongly: a wish, craving, or longing for something, a yearning, need, aspiration, plea, request, appeal, entreaty, petition.

    Eagerly

    – enthusiastic and excited about something and impatiently waiting to do or get it: gung-ho, hopped-up, hot, hungry, impatient, juiced, keen, nuts, pumped, raring, stoked, thirsty, voracious, wild, chomping at the bit.

    What does it look like to “eagerly desire” something?

    I often ask myself, is that the posture of my heart when I think of the spiritual gifts? Am I craving to the point of impatience to have and use the spiritual gifts? Is my heart’s cry to God in prayer a voracious yearning and asking Him to give me spiritual gifts so that the church will be built up?

    We are the bride of Christ, His church. He wants us to be eagerly desiring the gifts because He is eagerly desiring to build up His bride. His desire is ongoing and continuous until the day that His bride is perfect.

    It’s not self-centered to ask for spiritual gifts when we know what they are for.

    Our eagerness simply mirrors His.

  6. Linda

    Hi Dan,
    I do agree with the Pentecostal definition of being baptized with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of ‘speaking in tongues'(for personal edification and praying/communing with God) vs ‘speaking in tongues with the interpretation’ in a church meeting or gathering. My background has been in the charismatic/pentecostal church theology and beliefs.

    My own experience in the ‘word of knowledge’ gifting is minimal. I’ve uttered this gift sometimes in happenstance, not really understanding that I was revealing knowledge about someone’s circumstance or problem. I’ve also experienced someone speaking a ‘word of knowledge’ about me and what I was dealing with. The man gave a story to me as an example. Noone could have known how significant this story was for me. The example he gave was ‘it’s like you’re on the end of a diving board and you’re afraid of diving off. You’re afraid you might hurt yourself. I believe that God is saying to you ‘let me do that part for you’. There was no doubt in my mind that this man was speaking to me from God.

    Do I always have a ‘word of knowledge’ available to me to speak into someone’s life? No. I also prophecy. Do I always have a prophcey to give in a church meeting? No. I have felt at times that I could give an interpretation for someone speaking in tongues in a church meeting. Am I to stand up and be the one? Very seldom. In my experience someone else ends up doing the interpretation. Sometimes I have no idea what the interpretation should be. What I find is that I am not operating in the spiritual gifts at will or any time that I want.

    One time I was driving to church and I had something come into my mind. I’m not sure what it was now. In the church meeting there was an invitation for some women to come and gather around a believer having some difficulty and minister to her with prayer, etc. I ended up speaking to her what had been given to me on the way to church. What I said to her was substantial in satisfying her that God was listening and knew about her.
    I feel that it is the Holy Spirit who gives gifts to the believer as He wills. In the circumstance, in the situation, at the time of the need, etc. I don’t feel that I control these gifts at my own will. The Holy Spirit prompts prophecy in the worship time or just after. The Holy Spirit somehow gives words to me (sometimes when I am on the phone talking or ministering to someone) that I don’t always know are speaking to this person confirming that God is hearing them and is with them.

    talk to you later Dan,

  7. What some of you are saying regarding Pentecostal teachings on “tongues”:

    All believers are given a tongues-like prayer language (which may not be a known language), but only some are given a specific, restricted gift of tongues of other spoken languages.

    I want to be honest here in saying that I, personally, have never found that explanation to be satisfying. I’m not saying it’s not the case, as it may be. I’m just saying that it seems to me to be built on the kind of shaky ground that we often accuse cessationists of employing.

    My reasoning:

    Glossolalia is glossolalia. I feel like the distinction between a gift of tongues in a known language given to some and the gift of a prayer language given to all is artificially constructed. I feel like Pentecostals are trying to reconcile the fact that Paul restricts the gift of tongues (again, “Do all speak in tongues?”) with the Book of Acts depicting the presence of the Holy Spirit falling on people accompanied by speaking in tongues. The latter leads to the “baptism of the Holy Spirit, with evidence of speaking in tongues” as a cornerstone belief of Pentecostalism.

    The problem I have is two-fold:

    1. Just because we see speaking in tongues in cases of being filled with the Spirit in the Book of Acts in the cases cited therein, is it true that it is ALWAYS the case? Is it possible that there are times when a person can be filled with the Spirit and NOT speak in tongues? I mean, the Scriptures do not come out and say that tongues will always be the sign of the baptism in the Holy Spirit or that it will be the norm for all believers. In fact, the only explicit verse I know of says it WON’T be the norm for everyone (“Do all speak in tongues?”).

    2. The verses cited as support for a “prayer language” never state that this is a different gifting from another type of tongues. We tend to group it into “unknown tongue” versus “known tongue,” and while such a distinction seems to exist since Paul says as much, breaking this into two different actions/gifts seems arbitrary, as it could just be two different expressions of the same gift of glossolalia. No NT writer comes out and says there are two different gifts of tongues. Consider this: Pentecostals and charismatics have long struggled to make clear the distinction between word of knowledge and word of wisdom. If those are so subtle and Paul sees a need to make a distinction, why no distinction on prayer language vs. tongues, which seems even more subtle?

    In short, this is what I think the Bible is explicit on:

    1. There is a gift of tongues.
    2. Not everyone has the gift of tongues.
    3. There are known tongues and unknown tongues.
    4. There is a private and a public expression of tongues.

    I think if we venture beyond that, we start eisegeting the passages on tongues.

  8. Mr. Poet

    I do believe someone can be filled with the Holy Ghost and not speak in tongues as evidence. But I also believe everyone may receive a prayer language.

  9. Mr. Poet

    “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17-18 KJV).

    If you believe (like I think you would, Dan) that all believers have the power to cast out devils, then why would you think not all believers would speak in tongues?

    • A couple things on the Mark 16:17-18 passage, Poet:

      1. That passage doesn’t appear in many manuscripts. For that reason, I’m reticent to base essential doctrine on it.

      2. What if that passage is read as a collective rather than as individuals? If Mark is describing the Body, and the Body is all differently gifted (as we know it is), then it reads differently than if viewed in the individualistic way we Americans tend to read it. I used to read it as describing each individual. Now I tend to read it as a Body description.

      As for “all believers have the power to cast out devils,” do all have the power to lay on hands and heal? In 1 Cor. 12:30, the answer is no, which is one reason why I think the Mark 16 description is for the collected Body of Christ and not one to be used to refer to any one individual. If we have a mixed collection of giftings as we do in Mark 16, and we know at least one is restricted, it becomes much harder to make statements about the others, especially if we contend the others MUST be unrestricted.

  10. Linda

    Hi Dan,
    In I Corinthians Paul is addressing matters of concern or questions that the Corinthian church had. He is also providing some guidance to this church on how to conduct meetings containing believers with various gifts of the Spirit. Not all of these believers in Corinth have the same gifts from God. Not all of these believers will have the unction from the Holy Spirit to operate these gifts at the same time in the church service. This would cause confusion and probably chaos. It would also take up alot of time to allow every believer present in the church service to ‘prophecy’ ‘prophecy in tongues, and then someone else interpret it in Greek? for the believers to understand what was said’ or ‘to allow all the believers present in the church service to lay hands on any sick people and pray for healing’, or ‘to allow every believer to give a ‘word of wisdom’? etc?

    I’m not sure that a ‘word of wisdom’ would necessarily be given in a church service by a believer unless it was given within the context of prophecy to the church as a whole. The church meeting is for the edification of believers as a whole, generally. I would think that a church service is not the place for giving another individual believer a ‘word of wisdom’ or a word of knowledge’. This would likely occur at another time when the church service was over. Maybe even outside the church during the week sometime, etc.

    Is this how you would understand this?

    • Linda,

      I’ve not only received words of knowledge and wisdom during a church meeting, but I’ve given them too. One church I was a part of had a regular meeting devoted mostly to communion and giving and receiving words of wisdom and knowledge. I was sometimes a part of the team that prayed for people during the ministry time.

      At a different church, I once had the wildest word of knowledge that was more detailed than any word I had ever received, but I was highly reluctant to share since I knew it applied to no one in the church. I kept testing it and finally shared it before the whole church. The church met in a school building, and it turned out that a woman who didn’t even go to the church was there to set up for an event after the church left. She overheard and walked over in tears. She even described a couple pieces of the situation I had not shared, so I knew this was the confirmation.

      So I most definitely think words of wisdom and knowledge have a place in church. One church I was a part of had a regular meeting devoted mostly to communion and giving and receiving words of wisdom and knowledge. I was sometimes a part of the team that prayed for people during the ministry time.

      • Linda

        Hi Dan,
        The way that I understand a ‘word of knowledge’ or a ‘word of wisdom’ coming from a believer this gift is not necessarily at the believer’s will to put forth anytime they like. Perhaps the “ministry gift” of the ‘word of wisdom, knowledge, etc’ is more at the believer’s control. For example, a pastor can exercise his gift at will, an apostle, a prophet, a teacher, etc. can exercise their gifts at will. They do this inside or outside of the church building.

        • Linda

          Hi Dan,
          I think I want to change what I said in my comment dated Nov 6, 2013 @ 5:28pm. ‘a pastor can exercise his gift at will, an apostle, a prophet, a teacher, etc. can exercise their gifts at will’.

          What these ministry gifts can do is the work in a calling. For example a prophet can work within a calling from God as a prophet. Supernatural occurances are not at the will of the prophet, in my view.

          Neither are these supernatural occurances at the will of a pastor, either. If this were so the pastor would certainly avail himself of this divine help and intervention in the church service every week. He/she knows that there are times when they are preaching or expounding Biblical truth that they are being assisted in the giving of a message beyond the normal experience that they ususally have. The supernatural is not within their will. It is within the will of the Father. Did the apostle Paul raise up the dead all the time? No, he did not.

          Did the handkerchiefs of Peter or Paul heal the sick in Israel all the time? No, they didn’t. These were occurances that happened because of God’s will. The Holy Spirit caused these occurances to happen.

          This brings us to: are today’s leaders in the charismatic church asking believers to do what they have no will of their own to do or their own authority to do? I think so. We know that prophecy can be brought forth by any believer in a church service. Paul tells us this in scripture. It is not at the believers will, necessarily. The Holy Spirit has to prompt and give the believer an impetus for prophecy.

          How are believers manifesting a ‘supernatural’ occurrance at their will in Charismatic churches? These are in all likelihood a false manifestation, not done by the Holy Spirit. Where is the power coming from to do these? Somewhere else other than from God.

          This brings up the question of how much abuse and how severe in the abuse being done to believers in the charismatic churches? If leaders want to question why their people do not evangelize others, these leaders have their answer. Who wants to introduce others to the abuse that these believers are experiencing in the name of God in their own churh? No one.

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