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There are few, if any, issues in the body of Christ more divisive than the question of "speaking in tongues." Regrettably, many discussions of the subject tend to generate more "heat" than "light."

That the Bible declares tongues to be a valid manifestation of the Holy Spirit through a believer is hard to argue against (although some try). What some people do contend, however, is that tongues does not always accompany the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

Is the baptism of the Holy Ghost always evidenced by the recipient speaking in tongues? Let's let the Bible answer that question.

Acts 2:4 records the very first instance of the outpouring of the Holy Ghost: "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."

Remember the Ephesian believers in Acts 19? "And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied" (Acts 19:6).

Look at Acts 10:45,46: "And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God."

Over and over again in scripture we see people receiving the Holy Ghost and evidencing it by speaking in tongues. In fact, in only two places in all of scripture do we read of people being baptized in the Spirit without also being explicitly told that they spoke in tongues.

A closer examination of both of those passages (Acts 8:17,18 and Acts 10:44-46) gives us strong reason to believe that tongues were evidenced there as well.

When you look at the entire witness of the New Testament it's difficult to escape the conviction that where the outpouring of the Holy Ghost is, speaking in tongues is present also. You can't separate them. They go hand in hand. It's a clear case of cause and effect.

Understanding Tongues
Now that we've established that speaking in tongues is a legitimate and consistent manifestation of the Holy Spirit, let's dig a little deeper and find out what the Bible has to say about its uses and benefits.

The Tongues of Men and Angels
The scriptures describe tongues as a language that you do not know or understand with your natural mind: "For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful" (1 Cor. 14:14).

It also indicates that it can be a language of mankind or of angels: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels..." (1 Cor. 13:1).

I've heard dozens of testimonies in which someone gave a message in tongues, not having any idea what they were saying. Later they discovered they had spoken the language of someone in the congregation who got saved as a result. This is an example of speaking a language of men.

A tongue of angels is a heavenly language. In either event, you're speaking a language you do not understand with your natural mind.

Divine Mysteries
The Bible also says that when you speak in tongues you are speaking divine mysteries.

"For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries" (1 Cor. 14:2).

When you speak a mystery, you are saying something only God can understand. What type of things are spoken in a mystery? Look at 1 Corinthians 2:7: "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory...."

According to this verse, when we speak in tongues we speak the "hidden wisdom" of God. In the Bible, the "wisdom of God" often refers to the plan of God in the earth. This is one important reason for speaking in tongues. It keeps God's plans for us concealed from the enemy, Satan.

If the only way the Holy Spirit could pray through us was in our own language, God's plans for us would be disclosed to the devil and he could then set about trying to thwart those plans.

It is very important to keep the devil in the dark about what God is doing. Look at the very next verse in 1 Corinthians 2: "Which none of the princes [demonic powers] of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (v.8).

Top Secret
There is another important facet of speaking mysteries in tongues. While it keeps the plan of God for your life hidden from the devil, it makes it known to you.

This is very exciting! You can pray the plan of God for your life as you speak in tongues. God wants to reveal these marvelous secrets to you. How? Spirit to spirit.

"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (v.9-10).

How does God reveal these wonderful things? "By His Spirit." Read on: "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth..." (v.12-13).

Notice that this passage says "we speak" of the hidden things that God has freely given us. How do we speak these things? In words "the Holy Ghost teacheth." That's tongues!

This comes through even more clearly in the Amplified version: "And we are setting these truths forth in words not taught by human wisdom, but taught by the Holy Spirit combining and interpreting spiritual truths with spiritual language."

As you pray in the Holy Spirit (in tongues) you are praying out God's plan for your life. It enables Him to bring vision and direction to your heart.

Most of the things I've personally received from God in terms of direction for my life and ministry have come during a devotional time of praying in tongues.

As I pray in the Holy Ghost things start going off in my heart and I begin to get direction. That's precisely what Paul was talking about in the above verses.

God simply reveals through the Spirit the things He has prepared for us.

"Help! I Don't Know What to Pray!"
Tongues is also invaluable when you don't know what or how you should pray.

"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" (Rom. 8:26).

"Infirmities" here doesn't mean sicknesses. It means "weakness" or "inability."

Friend, you won't always know precisely how to pray regarding some issues. You can't always know what is going on in someone else's heart and mind.

When you don't have sufficient knowledge or information in order to pray intelligently, you can pray in the Spirit, confident that He will pray through you.

Refreshment Anyone?
Yet another important benefit of speaking in tongues is found in Isaiah 28:11: "For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing...."

Speaking in tongues brings rest and refreshing to you like few other things can. It's a supernatural rest that recharges your spiritual batteries.

That's exactly what Paul had in mind in 1 Corinthians 14:4, "He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself...."

That word "edifieth" actually refers to something akin to "recharging" or "re-strengthening."

Even after the most stressful, wearying day of your life - a day in which everything that can go wrong, does. If you'll spend some time fellowshipping with the Holy Ghost and praying in tongues you'll soon find yourself being refreshed and recharged from the inside out.

This is the key to being spiritually strengthened on a regular basis. As you pray in tongues, just yield yourself to the Holy Spirit. He'll soon start revealing God's plan for you. He'll refresh you. And He'll equip you to do everything God has called you to do.

Getting Started
The biggest hurdle for most people who want a deeper, fuller relationship with the Holy Spirit is getting started speaking in tongues.

This is primarily because of a misconception about how tongues operates. Many people who are basically open to speaking in tongues think the Holy Ghost will suddenly pounce on them and take control of their vocal cords. This is not how God operates.

People who have such preconceived notions are often frustrated. They may have had ministers lay hands on them. They may have "tarried." They may have tried all sorts of things and yet they've never burst out in an uncontrollable language from heaven.

What they fail to understand is that speaking in tongues is an act of the will. God will not override your will. You are a free moral agent and you must take the initiative if you are going to speak in tongues.

All you need do is simply say, "Lord, I want the fullness of your Holy Spirit." Then start praying, but not in words that you understand. Simply exercise your will to make an utterance and allow the Holy Spirit to shape it.

It may not sound like much at first. It may only come as two or three syllables uttered over and over. Give it time. The Holy Spirit will develop your prayer language as you yield yourself to Him.

When you first begin you'll probably have the thought in the back of your mind, "This is just me. I'm just making this up."

Of course it's you. It's your spirit being spoken to and through by the Holy Spirit. The proof of the Holy Spirit's involvement comes as you are edified, built up and refreshed. That's how you will know it's not just you.

Source: Water, Wind and Fire by Mac Hammond
Excerpt permission granted by Living Word International

Author Biography

Mac Hammond
Web site: Mac Hammond
Mac Hammond is senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center, a large and growing church in Brooklyn Park (a suburb of Minneapolis), Minnesota. He is the host of the Winner’s Minute, which is seen locally in the Minneapolis area and can also be viewed at He is also the host of the Winner’s Way broadcast and author of several internationally distributed books. Mac is broadly acclaimed for his ability to apply the principles of the Bible to practical situations and the challenges of daily living.

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