Praying & Speaking in Tongues
Is there a right and wrong way to pray?
You have probably seen how different churches pray differently than others. Some of them will pray very quietly others pray very loudly repeating words over and over. Still others may start speaking in tongues.
So does it matter how you pray? Do some prayers reach God more effectively than others? Is the way you pray effect whether or not God will hear you.
Well I’ve heard several opinions from pastors that are not quite what the Word of God says. I have several opinions about this subject myself; however I will try to show exactly what God says about this.
But first, I will tell you some experiences I have had in churches which led me to look at this subject in the Bible for some answers. I have had people pray for me and for others in my family; I watched and listened to them as they prayed for us. What I’ve seen has confused me as to which is the right way. Some where very quiet, others loud and showy, still others would pray in tongues. Although I didn’t understand why they prayed like this I didn’t care how they prayed, I was looking for an answer from God not the man or woman praying. So sooner or later an answer should come right?... Well it didn’t.
So was God not listening that day, was he angered with us and we were in God’s wrath? Does God not answer prayers in a way we can understand? Why wasn’t there an answer? I soon learned to accept that God doesn’t answer prayers like we want.
Later on in life as I starting reading the Bible more seriously I soon realized that ALL of God’s people would receive answers to their prayers. Sometimes in very miraculous ways: The Spirit of God showing up and speaking to people (Moses with the Hebrews in the wilderness), Angels were bringing answers to prayers (Daniel), and so on…
So when is the last time in church you saw an Angel or the Spirit of the Lord showed up to deliver a message from Heaven? I haven’t seen it yet, (in church that is...) The more and more I read the Word of God the more I believe that God intended us to be living supernatural lives. Now you must understand that does not mean that EVERY DAY you should SEE something supernatural. The Bible says:
2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight So your belief in God MUST be in FAITH. Salvation is by Faith, prayers to must be in faith.
Matthew 21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Remember at the end of this very scripture it says you shall receive. So that means that EVERY Prayer you have ever prayed God intended you to have and answer. NO prayers are to be left unanswered. But, we know this doesn’t always happen, so what hinders prayers and how should we pray to God to begin with?
First let’s see how Jesus said to pray. After all He’s the Son of God I think He knows how God likes the prayers of His people.
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
There are a couple of things to learn from these words of Jesus.
#1. This manner of prayer is NOT optional. He said when thou prayest not IF you pray or sometimes when you pray. This is the way he said to do it.
#2. He shows the way the hypocrites were praying so you don’t be like them. They prayed publicly. Jesus said don’t do it where people can see you. Pray secretly.
#3. Enter into thy closet. This is that part that confuses a lot of people. What is the closet and how do you shut the door? Some say it’s anywhere that is secret from others. This is possible, However, I believe He is referring to something most Christians have not learned about or flat out ignored. The Tallit. Also called the Prayer Shawl. In Jewish belief the Shawl is used to cover the upper body especially the head and face. When you would wrap the shawl over your head this is referred to as shutting the door. This was a symbolism of entering into the presence of God Like the High Priest would do when he entered the Holy of Holies in the Temple. This was considered your one on one time with God.
#4. Do NOT use repetitions. God heard you the first time you spoke. He knows your thoughts so why couldn’t he hear you when you speak a prayer the first time. If you come to God with faith He will answer.
#5. Speak like Jesus did. He simply stated the facts once and nothing else. Now does this mean you can’t pray in groups? Of course not. Jesus said…
Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Group gatherings are encouraged and are very powerful. Just two people can move the Father to answer the prayer on anything. Keep in mind what Jesus said on how to pray though. Just because there are now several people involved in the prayer doesn’t mean the rules of secrecy don’t apply. For example: if this is a church gathering of about thirty people and only two people or maybe five people want to pray about something they should go to the side or another room if possible to go before the Father in secret and without the possibility of being interrupted or distracted. If the entire church wants to pray in agreement then wonderful let everyone be involved. Just keep the guidelines in order: No vain repetitions, Faith, etc… So what about these altar calls? I have seen several churches do this. Not that there is something wrong with altar calls but the Bible says…
1 Corinthians 14:40
Let all things be done decently and in order.
So when people are scattered all over the place in groups and some by themselves praying about different things it doesn’t seem very orderly. I have seen kids go by themselves praying for one another with no Adult Christian overseeing it. I believe kids have very powerful prayers due to their child like faith. But I believe we should help and encourage them to pray not just stand back and hope they know what they are doing. I think it is better for children and adults to pray together then to pray separately. It’s up to the parents and church leaders to oversee them as they grow and learn about God. Make sure they are learning it right from the beginning not when they get older and more mature then we will show them. Start them out right And you will be surprised on the answers that will come because of their prayers.
Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.
Praying in Tongues So what about the people that pray in tongues is that ok? Well yes and no. Although there is a gift that the Holy Spirit provides believers to pray that allows us to speak with new tongues. Out of all the churches I’ve been to I have only seen one use this gift appropriately. There is a right way and a wrong way. Now there is another issue about the tongues gift: the Filling (Baptism) of the Holy Spirit.
Many say that you are supposed to speak in tongues when this happens, well, I’m not too sold on that. I was Filled with the Spirit when I was about five yrs old, I didn’t speak in tongues until I was twenty yrs old. However I did do other things that the Bible says that are only done by the Holy Spirit such as: Cast out Demons, Heal, received words of knowledge, etc… I am talking about when people pray in the church in tongues.
This is NOT supposed to happen. Paul makes it very clear how the Gift of Tongues is to be used. Here is the Chapter that speaks a lot about this gift, I will then break down the key points at the end…
1 Corinthians 14
1Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. 2For 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. 3But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 4He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. 5I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. 6Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? 7And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? 8For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? 9So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. 10There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. 11Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me. 12Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. 13Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. 14For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. 16Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? 17For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. 18I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: 19Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. 20Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. 21In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. 22Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. 23If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? 24But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: 25And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth. 26How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 27If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. 28But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. 29Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 31For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 34Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 35And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. 36What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? 37If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. 38But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. 39Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. 40Let all things be done decently and in order.
OK Let’s look at the key points here…
1. He that speaks in tongues speaks to God Verse 2
2. Prophesying is a greater gift then tongues unless there is an interpretation. Verse 5
3. Everyone that prays in tongues should pray to God for interpretation. Verse 13
4. People in the room should be able to understand and follow along. Verse 16, 23
5. There is a limit to how many people are to be allowed to speak in tongues 2 or 3 and that is ONLY if there is an interpreter. Verse 27-28
6. If several people are praying in tongues and even if one person is confused and no one seeks to help the person who is confused, then clearly the people are not obeying these rules Verse 33
I have been to churches where many and sometimes ALL were speaking in tongues. If you have ever been there you know it is very confusing and sometimes scary. This is not the way God intended it. Praying in tongues is HOLY, but it is to be respected and used properly. I have been blessed by God to have the Gift of Tongues. I can speak in Tongues any time I choose to pray to the Father. HOWEVER,
I DON’T do it where others can see or hear. I ONLY do it alone with God. God has not given me the ability to interpret them yet, therefore I keep my mouth closed when I’m with others.
So If people are breaking these rules will God still hear the prayer? Honestly I can’t answer that with absolute confidence. That is God’s Will and I don’t understand everything about him. I do believe God is a patient and gracious God (Jonah 4:2) and even though we don’t deserve it he still loves us. So I think it’s safe to say that God will still be gracious and still answer the prayer. I think He does this because He knows who has been lied to and is honestly trying to serve Him. So if you know these principles and still don’t practice them I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if God stops answering your prayers, because now you are without excuse you now know these truths and are instructed by God to do them; if you still don’t you are sinning by rebellion and wanting to do things your way and not God’s way.
And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.
Here are some more scriptures on prayer… .
And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
1. Jesus says here again that FAITH must be in your prayers
2. He also tells the disciples that they are to forgive people that have wronged them so that there sins will be forgiven
And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
1. Again the same message, that you should expect God to answer prayers. You should expect an answer.
Now I know that there are some things that we could ask God that would not be right to ask, so what about those kinds of prayers? There has got to be some kind of guideline for your prayers. There is. The first one is the Lord’s Prayer. Let’s look at again and detail it out.
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
1. Declare that God in Heaven is Holy
2. Remember He is your Heavenly Father
3. Request His Will to be done. (Not yours)
4. Request the things that you need from Him. (food, clothes, etc…)
5. Ask for Forgiveness. Remember this is a conditional request. You MUST FORGIVE people that have wronged you or your sins will not be forgiven. (Mark 11:25-26)
6. Request that the Father lead in Good paths in you life Example: That he keep friends and family that may tempt and harass you to sin away from you.
7. Declare that All Glory and Power is His.
Well is there any other scripture that instruct us how to pray so that our prayers will be answered. Yes…
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Here Jesus is saying that His words must abide in us and we abide in Christ so that whatever we ask we will receive from Him. So what are his words? The Holy Scriptures: From Genesis to Revelation, Old and New Testament. All are the Words of God and are Holy and have power. Keep reading the Word of God and never stop.
1 John 3:22-24
And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
1 John 5:14-15
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Something I would like to point out in these scriptures is that they are in the NEW TESTAMENT and they are referring to the Commandments of Moses in the Old Testament. Many people believe that the commandments were abolished when Jesus died on the cross. But if that is true, then why is John referring to them as a standard to getting your prayers answered? Jesus only gave one new commandment that you love one another.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
The word commandments in 1 John are plural so what other commandments are there except the Old Testament laws such as the Ten Commandments? Also keep in mind that every time someone asked Jesus about eternal life He spoke of the Old Testament Laws and Commandments. Why would he keep referring to them if He was about to get rid of them at the cross?
He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination
There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?