There is more to being filled with the Holy Spirit than speaking in tongues. Since speaking in an unknown language is the initial evidence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4), it is an integral part of receiving the Holy Spirit. Speaking in tongues is also an essential part of the believer’s devotional prayer life. The Apostle Paul said, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all” (1 Cor. 14:18).
In writing to the Church at Corinth, Paul specifically encouraged Christians to follow the practice of speaking with tongues in their private prayer lives. He gave several reasons for it.
1. Devotional Use
There is the devotional use of tongues. First Corinthians 14:2 says, “For he who speaks in a ‘tongue’ addresses God, not man; no one understands him; he is talking of divine secrets in the Spirit” (Moffatt). Here, Paul is talking about the individual Spirit-filled believer employing the use of tongues in his prayer life. Through speaking in tongues, you can pray out the plan of God for your life by the power of the Holy Spirit.
2. Spiritual Edification
Tongues are also used as a means of spiritual edification. First Corinthians 14:4 says, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself.” The word edifieth means “to build up.” Verse 14 in the Amplified Bible Classic reads, “My spirit [by the Holy Spirit within me] prays, but my mind is unproductive.” Speaking in tongues isn’t mental edification; it is spiritual edification.
3. Worshiping God
For believers who are filled with the Holy Spirit, tongues are used in their worship and devotion to God. The Bible says in Acts 10:46 concerning Cornelius and his household when they began to speak with tongues, “For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.” Speaking with tongues is a supernatural way to magnify God.
4. Doorway to the Supernatural
Speaking with tongues is the doorway into all the other spiritual gifts. Some people want to experience all the gifts of the Spirit at once, but you have to go through the door to get into the supernatural. Also, it is as the Spirit of God wills, not as we will (1 Cor. 12:11). In other words, you can’t force or “put on” a manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit.
The Bible teaches us to desire spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 14:1). The Bible also teaches us to earnestly covet the best gifts (1 Cor. 12:31). But remember that those words were written to people who already spoke in tongues. They weren’t written to people who did not speak with tongues.
I have found in my own life over a period of more than 60 years that the more I speak in tongues—the more I pray and worship God in tongues—the more manifestation of the other gifts of the Spirit I have in my life too. And the less I speak in tongues, the less manifestation of the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit I have operating in my life.
God has given each of us a supernatural means of edifying ourselves, or building ourselves up, spiritually. God has given to us a supernatural means of communicating with and worshipping Him. Are you as a Spirit-filled believer taking full advantage of the gift of tongues?
Author Kenneth Hagin