Spiritual Guardrails

Operating Inside the Guidelines for Speaking-In-Tongues

Taking Speaking-in-Tongues to the Next Level – Part 7

With all this good information we have gained over the last few installments, what do we do with all of it? How do we use this to go to the next level when it comes to speaking-in-tongues? In order for us to do this justice, we must follow the guidelines that we have, in a way unlike we have seen and witnessed it normally. We have to admit that our normal encounter with “tongues” of any sort leaves us wanting and wondering. Normal is not working. So what does that mean and how can we use what we know?

I have five guidelines to get us started. Before I give these guidelines, know that this list is not an exhaustive list. Neither does it trump what God’s spirit is telling you. Keep in mind that God’s spirit does not contradict God’s word. Now for these five guidelines that will give us what we need to take “speaking-in-tongues” to the next level as well as make it palatable for those who encounter this next level gift.

1 – Don’t force words and force “tongues” in place of not having words.
God will give us the help we need when we need it. Ask for His help. In fact, He has left us with the Help we need if we will receive His Help. You don’t always need words for God to hear you. Many times we default to forced “speaking-in-tongues” when that is not even necessary.

Billy Graham said it this way. “God even hears our prayers when we can’t even put them into words—times, for example, when our hearts are too burdened or confused even to speak.” [1] The Bible says, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” [2] Our Father in heaven, looks beyond our words anyway and into our thoughts. I often say to those we coach, it is hard to mess up in prayer when you come out of your heart. The only time we struggle is when we try to clean up what is in our heart for people around us. Don’t force it. Don’t force words or “tongues” in place of not having the words to say. Know that God can read your heart.

2 – When we are uncertain, default to private “tongues.”
I say default to privacy because “tongues”, as the scripture says, is for one who speaks to God not to men.” [2] Because people don’t understand you when you speak-in-tongues or pray-in-tongues, it is okay to make this a private and personal moment between you and God. It is like a husband and wife who take their conversation to the bedroom where no one else can hear it. Some conversations are meant for others to hear. The same is true of speaking-in-tongues. There is no more power offered by God whether your prayer is public or private. It should not matter to you as long as you get to pray. When we are uncertain if speaking-in-tongues is appropriate, default to private “tongues”.

3 – Default to having an interpreter present when using “tongues” in public settings.
Above we spoke to defaulting to private “tongues.” In this point, we will take that a little further, to the next level if you will. When we speak or pray-in-tongues default to having an interpreter present. The Apostle Paul, one of the greatest leaders of the Christian church and one appointed for penning a large portion of scripture, didn’t mess around when it came to how tongues should be handled by The Church. I’m not sure how in present times we find ways to ignore it. He says that no more than 2 or 3 should speak-in-tongues at a time. [4] I missed this one. Then he goes as far as to say if no interpreter is present, then the tongue-talkers must be silent. [4] Wow!

This statement is not intended to point out right or wrong, but rather how we can take our practice to the next level. What if we did it better, what would that do to promote this next level gift? Default to having an interpreter present when using “tongues” in public settings.

4 – Use “tongues” with the intent and motive of helping others.
Allow me to go back to a previous point. Speaking-in-tongues or speaking-in-an-unknown-language is a spiritual gift. This gift is not given to everyone. In fact, the person who is gifted with the ability of speaking-in-an-unknown-language is not the same person who is gifted with the ability to interpret. [5] Therefore, one person can interpret and not speak-in-tongues while another can speak-in-tongues and not interpret. That means the two need each other which brings us to something that is more important.

Our gifts aren’t meant to serve us, but rather to serve someone else. The Bible says it with this language, “a spiritual gift is given so we can help each other.” [5] With that said, tongues are meant to help others, not hinder someone’s faith. Use “tongues” with the intent and motive of helping others.

5 – “Tongues” is not for everyone.
I actually mentioned this in the previous bullet. It bears repeating. Not everyone has the gift of speaking-in-tongues. [6] So that I am clear, we don’t get to determine who receives what gift. God’s spirit is the distributor of God’s gifts. There is a better question to ask than whether or not I am gifted with the ability of speaking-in-tongues. That question is, God, what gift(s) have you given me? Instead of being disappointed or made to feel inadequate that you don’t have the gift of speaking-in-tongues, find out what gift you have and make others envy the gift of you. “Tongues” is not for everyone.

We should be okay with having rules. Rules are like the guardrails that keep us on course to getting to the next level. When we know how things are supposed to operate, it keeps us from operating the thing ineffectively and inappropriately. We maximize the thing when we operate under the guidelines. Embrace the guidelines. In fact, we should welcome the ways in which God would have us conduct ourselves. The leaders of the early church understood this. They believed in “conducting themselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.” [7]

I started with this question and I will end with it. What do we do with all of this? We let it make us better. We let it make us better with the next level gift of speaking-in-tongues. This is next level prayer!

Question: what guidelines can you think of that I might have missed around the subject of speaking-in-tongues?

[1] Graham, Billy. “3 Answers From Billy Graham on Talking to God” Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Accessed September 13, 2023. https://billygraham.org/story/prayer-101-how-do-i-talk-to-god
[2] ‭‭Romans 8:26-27 NLT‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬, Bible.com, accessed September 13, 2023, https://www.bible.com/bible/116/ROM.8.26-27.NLT
[3] ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭14:2, 4-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬, Bible.com, accessed September 13, 2023, https://www.bible.com/59/1co.14.2,4-5.esv
[4] ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭14:27-28‬ ‭NLT‬‬, Bible.com, accessed September 13, 2023, https://www.bible.com/116/1co.14.27-28.nlt
[5] ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭12:7-11‬ ‭NLT‬‬, Bible.com, accessed September 13, 2023, https://www.bible.com/116/1co.12.7-11.nlt
[6] ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭12:28-30‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬, Bible.com, accessed September 13, 2023, https://bible.com/bible/116/1co.12.28-30.NLT
[7] Philippians 1:27 NLT‬‬‬‬, Bible.com, accessed September 13, 2023, https://www.bible.com/bible/116/PHP.1.27.NLT

All Scripture references used by permission, see our Scripture copyrights

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