I have never spoken in tongues. And honestly, I have never wanted to. I had some pastor tell me that I didn’t want to speak in tongues because I was proud and didn’t want to look foolish in front of others. Maybe so. But I don’t think that looking foolish in front of others is doing a whole lot of good for the cause of Christ and the advancement of the kingdom. But that is a topic for some other time.
All I want to say is that if you speak in tongues, I am not trying to mock you or your prayer language in the rest of this post. I am only poking fun at the two examples below…
I am introducing my series called “Let Prayer Meetings Cease” by writing about several types of prayer that you might hear in a prayer meeting. (I write more about this in my forthcoming book, Cruciform Pastoral Leadership.) Recently we looked at the “Magic Words” prayer. Today, we look at the prayer where people let God do the talking.
The “I Don’t Know What I’m Saying, So God Will Say it For Me” Prayer
I have sometimes been in prayer meetings where people clearly lose their train of thought, or they don’t really know how to pray for the issue at hand, and so rather than pause, or stumble around for the right words, or simply pray wrongly and let God sort it out (He doesn’t mind), the person instead starts to “speak in tongues,” thus trying to impress everybody with their spirituality.
And rather than type what it sounds like, I will give you an example from YouTube. Of course, this guy is preaching a sermon, but just imagine he is praying instead. You’ll get the idea. I actually feel bad for this poor pastor. It appears that he was told that the Holy Spirit would take over and start preaching through him, but for some reason, the Holy Spirit power never really “kicks in” …unless 90% of a Holy Spirit Sermon consists of the words “Glory to God! Hallelujah!”
Oh, and I know this video is old. It looks like it’s from the 1980’s. But these kinds of sermons are still preached in countless pulpits across America today. In the religious environment in which I work, I hear sermons like this almost every week.
Speaking in Tongues Videos
The first is by Brother Barry.
And then there is this classic from Televangelist Robert Tilton:
I don’t know if you have ever been in prayer meetings where people do this sort of thing. It has always made me uncomfortable, and I often doubt that this is really what speaking in tongues was all about in Acts 2 and elsewhere in the New Testament. You can disagree, but I think it is always better to pray with words that both you and others understand.
Eventually I plan to write a book about speaking in tongues and what the Bible teaches about it (Join my discipleship group to be notified when it is published), but for now, I just encourage you to stay away from this practice in public prayer settings, especially when it is used as a means to make yourself look more spiritual and sound more holy. This is not what prayer is for.