Misunderstandings About Praying In Tongues
For many people searching to learn the “how to” speak in tongues, their search ends in frustration. Buried by a volume of books, videos, and articles on the “why” of tongues, it can be hard to find the actions to start praying in tongues.
To add complications, there are many churches that don’t support this gift. Some refuse to acknowledge it, others reject it as demonic, or the church simply doesn’t have the pastoral staff to nurture it.
I know I felt all of these frustrations during my journey towards a deeper prayer life.
You may be stuck on one or more of these crossroads as well, and if that’s the case this article on how to pray in tongues for you. This article does not build a case to convince you on the biblical reasoning or benefits of prayer in tongues (there are a lot of great books by authors like Dave Roberson), but instead to provide you with very real and practical steps to jump start your ability to receive the gift of tongues.
How do I receive the gift of tongues?
This is the question that people have always asked having heard about the gift of tongues.
I am personally unable to teach you how to speak in tongues, as it is the Lord who gives this gift and all gifts that are manifested by His Spirit.
So let’s get started…
1. Get Distraction Free
If there is one thing that will kill your ability to start receiving this gift it’s being distracted as you learn. Distraction can come in many forms: rambunctious children, fear of embarrassment, multi-tasking, and even the sound of your own voice.
Remember that you are trying to remove all distractions, so when you start trying to pray in tongues find a quiet place that you can be alone to sit (or lay) for an hour. It was during lunchtime in my car with the seat reclined that I personally found initial comfort. The point is that this is a time of prayer, and you will need the same type of quiet isolation that your prayer time normally demands plus a little extra. If you are constantly looking to see who might be watching, getting interrupted, or are distracted you aren’t going to be able to listen to the cues given to you.
2. Start Trying – Cooperate with the Holy Spirit
This step is the most obvious step, but it’s where most people go wrong – open your mouth. Start making syllables and word sounds. In short, start babbling like a baby. Start exercising your tongue and mind to produce random word parts.
Many people incorrectly believe that gifts from God are bestowed upon us all at once and in full and their inability to heal, prophesy, or speak in tongues is because God has not yet blessed them with the gift. As a result, they never step out in faith to try or they quit early, but this just is another example of the old saying “Jesus can’t take the wheel of a parked car”.
I love how Robert Morris of Gateway Church puts it so simply in this video (4:50):
Babies don’t start speaking fluently, and here is the amazing thing…we think it’s cute. It doesn’t bother us when our children mispronounce words. In the same way, so many people are afraid they aren’t going to do it right, but even if you don’t do it right your Father likes it. He will like that you are trying.
In the beginning, it will not be fluent. Most likely it will be very choppy, repetitive, and hard to resist your mind taking back control of your mouth. All of this is just fine as you are starting and you have to start somewhere.
3. Listen for Hints
Through practice, you will start to gain awareness of your prayer language, and you will start to notice repetition and a lack of diversity in the syllables/sounds you’re speaking. The few sounds you are able to make at first are those most natural to you, that is, the ones which flowed out of your spirit the easiest. Adding to your sound vocabulary is done through a discovery process that exists both internal and external.
External discovery would be seeing a sign, billboard, or word in your mind and wondering “Would this sound make sense if I prayed it?” I’ve linguistically dissected many words that I’ve seen while on prayer walks – some sounds worked, some didn’t. Don’t feel like you’re cheating though, you learn every day through external stimulus so don’t let this be any different.
Internal discovery would be listening for queues in your mind, queues that the Holy Spirit might be giving you. When I started, with my eyes closed, I would see word parts or names flash in front of my eyes. Following along with my mouth, I felt as if I was slowly being tutored to unglue my mouth.
To this day I still listen for those hints God hands out; whether it is a flash of a word part or name in my mind or a new sound that catches my ear.
4. Ask for Increased Faith
The truth is God has already given you many gifts, but will only give us an amount that our faith can handle. So this means for many of us, we must build up these gifts in a continuous cycle of action and faith. You act out of faith, your gift is strengthened, which results in increased faith for the next action. This cycle of action and faith is no different in learning how to pray in tongues.
However, sometimes amidst all the practice we just don’t feel powerful enough to break into the next level. When that happens, stop attempting to pray in tongues and ask the Father (in your native language) for more faith. It really is that easy! Depend on God to help you increase your faith in praying with the Holy Spirit, and trust that the Father will remove any barriers in your way.
When I began, many of my first attempts were filled with me repeating “Lord increase my faith” over and over again. You need God’s power to pray in tongues, so it’s alright to drop the “do it on my own strength” ego and ask for help on breaking through.
5. Don’t Over Think It
Doubt cripples faith, so quit worrying about the details. The whole gift of praying in tongues is to give God your tongue and time so your spirit can be built up. Worrying about your technique of a God-given gift, where the Holy Spirit prays with you, where spoken words aren’t understood…you get my point, worrying is meaningless and is going to do nothing but throw you off track.
My prayer language is simple and vowel heavy. I’ve tried working in complex sounds such as “x” and “ing”, but it physically doesn’t come out of my mouth when I’m in prayer – so I’m not going to force it!
In the beginning, everything seems forced, but in a few days, you will be able to tell what fits and what doesn’t. I promise there will be a day where it all comes out like a flood and you will finally think “I’m doing it! I’m praying in tongues!” In that moment all your previous worries will dissolve and your faith in this gift will be forever changed.
We are called to pray with our minds as well as with our spirits, and starting to pray with the Holy Spirit really is as easy as the above steps. If you’re serious about the edification process, add tongues into your prayer life. All it takes is a little practice and faith.
Article by Max Pool
Excerpt edited by Temi Tope
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