This is a follow up to my previous post, “Praying in Tongues: Why Bother?”
Today, I’ll share with you some of the benefits of praying in tongues. My prayer is that you’ll be encouraged to pray in tongues often, preferably daily. And if you don’t speak in tongues yet, my prayer is that you soon will.
Before I go into the benefits of praying in tongues, let me say a word about the nature of prayer.
Praying is an act of worship. Therefore, when you’re at prayer, you’re worshiping; and you address your prayer to whoever you deem to be your God, in a Christian’s case the God of Jesus Christ. All prayer is worship, but not all worship is prayer.
Prayer is intended by God to be an activity of your spirit.
Knowing the relationship between prayer, worship and the spirit, Jesus said, “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24, NKJV). This means there are worshipers and there are true worshipers. God isn’t looking for worshipers; there’s plenty of them already. He’s looking, rather, for true worshipers.
The truth is in the spirit realm, and those who interact with God based on spirit (invisible) realities are true worshipers. True worshipers don’t base their reality (or worship life) on what can be experienced with the natural senses: location, space, time, sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch, etc.
God is spirit; so are you. Therefore, He’d rather you pray to Him in the spirit. Fortunately, praying in tongues is praying in the spirit. As Paul says, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays . . .” (1 Corinthians 14:14). You’re at your best when your spirit is praying, because at that point you are a spirit praying in the spirit to a Spirit (God).
That said, here are some benefits of praying in tongues:
First of all, praying in tongues expands your capacity to pray. By “capacity” I mean two things: (a) the range of issues you can cover in prayer and (b) endurance, i.e. how long you can (joyfully) sustain yourself in prayer without becoming exhausted. Natural languages (Twi, English, Spanish, German, etc.) have a limited range of vocabulary, expression and nuance. No matter how fluent you are in a language, you’ll face limitations.
When you pray in a natural language, the limitations become even more evident, especially if you’re praying spontaneously. As someone once told me, there’s only so many verbs, nouns and adjectives available for you to use in prayer. Try praying in a natural language continuously and spontaneously (no interruption) for just five minutes. Invariably, your mind begins to search for the right words, the right grammar and punctuation, and how to stay coherent.
Prayer becomes a chore when it feels like you’re brainstorming to present an essay or a speech. Because of the limitations of natural language, many settle for a few words and hastily conclude their prayer with “Amen!’ (although they could go further). Others rely on predetermined, ‘canned’ or memorized prayers and repeat them over and over.
The good news is, when you pray in tongues, you don’t have to deal with these limitations. Because your spirit prays directly to God using spirit language, you don’t have to worry about what to say or how to say it. Once your spirit takes over, your natural mind (the flesh) gets out of the way. At this point, the Holy Spirit supplies the utterance and inspiration (Acts 2:4), and your spirit speaks through your voice. Because your spirit is praying, you can be sure that you’re covering a lot of issues your (limited) natural language can’t cover.
Additionally, when your spirit prays, you get refreshed and don’t get exhausted easily. Therefore, you can spend longer periods with God. Sometimes you don’t realize you’ve been praying for hours, because it feels like you’ve been praying for only a few minutes. That’s why praying in tongues is such a powerful tool.
When you pray with your natural language, you rely heavily on your natural mind to support you by looking for what to say (not directly related, but see Matthew 10:19-20). That process can wear you down, and that’s why many can’t pray spontaneously beyond a few minutes.
But when you pray in tongues, you put your natural mind on stand-by mode as you switch over to spirit mode. Because it’s on stand-by, your mind doesn’t have to work hard to supply words and meaning and coherence; instead, it rests while your spirit does the work. The only part of you that’s involved in this process is your voice, which serves as a channel for your spirit to speak.
God gave us the gift of praying in tongues to support our prayer life, because He knows the limitations of the flesh. The night before His death, Jesus “came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak’” (Matthew 26:40-41).
Your natural mind is part of your flesh; it has limitations. There’s only so much it can do for you in prayer. This is why when you rely on it, you soon get tired (even bored), and you can’t wait for the prayer to be over so you can go do something more exciting. If you want to go far in prayer, you need to fly on the wings of your spirit, and the gift of tongues is given to help you do that.
To conclude this section, let me share with you my own experience of limitations in prayer before I received the gift of tongues.
My weakness in prayer got exposed through contact with the Catholic Charismatics. Although I disliked the Charismatics and wished the Lord would drive them out of the Catholic Church (see my post entitled “Speaking in Tongues: My Testimony”), there were a few (positive) things about them I couldn’t deny. They seemed to have a deep longing for prayer (spontaneous prayer, of course). When they prayed, they looked so energized; they could go on for so long, but they looked as fresh as ever. Above all, they seemed to enjoy prayer in a way that I didn’t see in people outside their group. That made me curious.
I had the experience, a few times, of being present at their prayer meetings. The one leading the prayer would announce a prayer topic and invite them to pray. Instantly, everyone would start to pray out loud and spontaneously. From what I observed, they made prayer look easy and exhilarating. They could pray uninterruptedly for several minutes.
Obviously, I would pray along. But I noticed that I got stuck after about two minutes. I would run out of words, and there was nothing more I could say. These people, however, went on and on as if they were possessed. At times, I’d look around to my left and right; everyone was on fire praying while I had long stopped. I’d quietly recite the Lord’s Prayer or the Hail Mary. That was the only way I could keep up with them.
I always wondered, “What do these people have in them that I don’t have? Why can they endure so long in prayer, be so enthusiastic and not feel tired? Why do I get stuck but they keep going strong?” Later, when the Holy Spirit filled me and gave me the ability to speak in tongues, I understood why. From that point, I could pray more freely (and for long) without feeling stuck. Even today, I feel so grateful for the gift of tongues.
God willing, in my next post I’ll talk about another benefit of praying in tongues. In the meantime, if you have the gift of tongues, please pray in tongues daily. If you’re yet to speak in tongues, I encourage you to ask the Father for it (Luke 11:13) and expect to pray in tongues. If you need someone to support you, reach out to a friend who already speaks in tongues.
Daddy God loves you!