By Benjamin Raven Pressley

     I have seen very few subjects that seem to inflame and divide the Body of Christ (the church) as much as the subject of speaking in tongues. It is probably the single most common practice that divides the church down the middle. All denominations can be classified as either Pentecostal (or charismatic) or non-pentecostal (or non-charismatic). And usually this translates to tongue speaking or non-tongue speaking. It is disturbing to me how quick many are willing to separate themselves from those who practice this gift. And it is just that, a gift, a tool, nothing more. It is not even the most important gift according to Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:5. That being said, I am not saying it is not an important gift. Any gift God gives is important. If it weren’t He would not have given it.

Gifts help you minister in the supernatural realm. Gifts also help the believer to grow. I have personally witnessed the abuse of this gift and also witnessed those who have ostracized those who practice this gift. And one side is as guilty as the other side. There are those who elevate this gift to be the ultimate gift and judge the success of their gatherings by how much tongues are spoken or not. And on the other side of the aisle people that speak in tongues are made fun of, laughed at and are often called a cult. Both extremes are wrong. So, ‘Come now, let’s reason together’ (Isaiah 1:18). Let’s look at what the Word has to say. If you have been reading what I write very long you know I always come to you from a non-denominational standpoint and I am interested only in the truth. Personally, it is not my preference to even be addressing this subject.  But I feel the time has come for me to address it and perhaps bring some balance to the Body (church) for all who will listen. And let me say right from the start, I am not trying to talk anyone into anything. I feel  I must start by saying the gift of speaking in tongues is real, Biblical and is still for today. I can say this on authority of the scriptures (Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11) and from personal experience. That being said I believe that many who practice this spiritual gift put way too high of an importance on it and those who do not practice this gift should not condemn those who do. And whether you believe that or not I do hope you will read on and prayerfully consider what I am about to present to you. It is not essential and has nothing to do with whether you will go to heaven or hell. However, it is an amazing tool. It is an amazing gift. It will benefit you in your spiritual walk. There will always be those who want everything God wants to give to them and there will always be those who do not want everything God wants to give to them. If you don’t want it you don’t have to have it and it won’t keep you out of heaven but it will sure help you on the journey here below. There are many extremes and abuse of this gift. There is one denomination that teaches that speaking in tongues is the initial evidence of the Holy Spirit and you don’t have the power of the Holy Spirit unless you have spoke in tongues. I know many people in that denomination who have turned their back on the faith altogether because they could never speak in tongues and were told they had to keep praying until they spoke in tongues. This just is not true. We have the Holy Spirit when we get saved. He desires to endue us with power and work gifts through us and anyone who is born again has access to these gifts but it is the Holy Spirit who divides them severally as He will (1 Corinthians 12:11). It isn’t ours to turn off and on at will. The Lord will work the gift through us that is needed for the time we need it. There are many that can name a specific time they experienced this enduement of power. Some call this experience the baptism in the Holy Spirit based on John the Baptist’s words in Matthew 3:11. That being said let’s look at what the Word has to say about tongues.

     In a nutshell what is tongues? Is it gibberish, emotionalism, out of control fervor? No, tongues are a language. It is a language of prayer, praise and often revelation. Sometimes it is an unknown language from heaven that requires interpretation from the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it is a known earthly language that may not necessarily be known by the speaker. We first see tongues mentioned in history in the book of Acts, chapter 2. 120 people met together in an upper room, probably the same upper room Jesus had ate His last supper with His disciples on Earth. The 120 included the 11 apostles, His Earthly mother, Mary, and His brothers and sisters, the rest are unknown but were obviously close followers of Jesus. They were told by Jesus that they were to wait until they received the promise of the Father and were endued with power from on high (Luke 24:49). They were in the upper room for 10 days from the time of His ascension into heaven. Exactly 50 days from His crucifixion on the day of Pentecost it is recorded in Acts 2:1-4, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”  It was quite an experience and that day was the official birthday of the church. The Holy Spirit had been given just as Jesus said it would (John 14:26). Does that mean the Holy Spirit has not been present or manifested in some way before? No, but it does indicate a certain time designated that the ‘promise’ of the Holy Spirit would be poured out enduing human vessels with spiritual power to carry out a mission in a way it had never been done before. Read on in Acts chapter 2 and read about what happened next. This was a festival day. A lot of people were in the streets and a miraculous thing took place. There were many people present with many different languages and Acts 2 records in verses 5-11 that they heard them speaking of the “wonderful works of God” in their own language. It doesn’t say the 120  ‘spoke’ in their own language, it says they ’heard’ in their own language. This is an important distinction that I would not have understood had I not experienced this for myself. One day I was praying at the altar in a church with others who had come to pray. I began praying in a language I did not understand but the person beside me told me they understood every word I was saying. They told me God was speaking to them specific things they needed to hear. We both were speakers of English and I definitely was not speaking English but he understood. That was in 1982. On another occasion someone I know told me that someone came up to them after a service and asked them where they had learned to speak such fluent Chinese. The speaker informed them that they did not know Chinese. The person that heard them though heard what was being said in Chinese. Another account was given to me by a good brother in Christ, Rev. Robert Gittens IV, whom I have known for years. He relates this story: “When we lived in St. Louis…my sister received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at age 12 and she spoke in tongues at the altar. After service a visitor approached the Pastor, Rev. A.L. Burnett and asked him where that little girl had learned how to speak such fluent ‘Old French’. You see he was a Professor at one of the main Universities in St. Louis and he taught ancient languages, and he said my sister spoke such perfect and flawless ‘Old French’ The Pastor asked him what she said and he said it was the message of Jesus dying and being raised again for all mankind and all needed to repent of their sins. When the man found out she had no family or friends that spoke French much less ‘Old French’, and of course that was not offered in Jr. High School, he was somewhat shaken and I imagine that day the ‘seed’ was ‘planted’ in his life about the message of Jesus. I know multitudes of testimonies exactly like that who I personally know, and like yourself, it is impossible to deny once you have witnessed it time and time again.” That happened in 1964. I propose to you that tongues are given supernaturally and are not a language one can learn and translate. That is why in 1 Corinthians 12:10 speaking of the gifts of the Holy Spirit it lists ‘interpretation’ of tongues, not ‘translation’ of tongues. More on tongues and interpretation as a gift to the church body later. It is also worth noting that not everyone experienced this. In verses 12-13 it says some mocked them and accused them of being drunk. It is still like this today. There are always scoffers around that do not experience the greatness of this experience and therefore only criticize it. Acts 2:14-40 Peter explains what was going on. He says that this is the promise of the Holy Spirit and even references a prophecy concerning it from the prophet Joel (Joel 2:27-29). What followed was a Word that was released anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit: “37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” (Acts 2:37-43).

3000 were saved and continued to walk with God in the Spirit! Was this only a gift for the apostles’ time? I think verse 39 makes it very clear that this enduement of power from on high is for everyone, even in this day and time. 1 Corinthians 14:22 confirms the power of tongues as a sign to the unbeliever as indeed it was so used in Acts 2: “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.”

     Tongues are also a gift to the church body to reveal a truth, revelation or encouragement. In this case it should be interpreted. There is also an orderly instruction given by Apostle Paul regarding tongues and interpretation: “ If 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. 28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. 29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30 If anything be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1 Corinthans 14:27-33). I have been present in several churches when a message in tongues and interpretation was given. When it was from God I remember it often got real silent, not even a baby was crying and a message was spoken aloud in the congregation in an unknown tongue. There would be a short period follow and then someone would speak the interpretation. Sometimes it would be the same person that gave the message, sometimes it would be someone else. I have also been present when the minister presiding told a fourth person that jumped up in a series of messages in tongues and told them to sit down. That was Biblical because Apostle Paul said it should be at most by three (1 Corinthans 14:27). Do you doubt that tongues are for today? Then perhaps Apostle Paul’s words in these verses will help: “37 If 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. 38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. 39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:37-40). Also read Mark 16:17-18, Jesus said, “17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

      There truly are many churches that I have observed that need to take note of verse 40. Things done in the Spirit will be orderly and not a free-for-all and a bunch of confusing antics. Does that mean we shouldn’t raise our hands and praise out loud, even letting out an ‘Amen’ every now and then? No, absolutely not. There are so many scriptures regarding worshipping God with our mouth, out loud, hands raised, upon musical instruments, even with dance, so many I would not even attempt to list them all. There are definitely some so-called worship services that are out of order but there are just as many who need to wake up and not be afraid to praise Him openly in the sanctuary. I am not saying everyone should praise the Lord out loud, the main thing is that praise should be sincere and from your heart, but I do say it is allowed and is pleasing to God if you want to.

     Another reason the Bible cites for tongues is to help us pray. Romans 8:26-27 says, “26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Have you ever had such a burden for someone or something when you were praying it turned into groaning, tears and just a laboring in the spirit? That is what he is talking about in these scriptures. Some people never reach the depth of prayer that a true intercessor does although intercession should be a ministry for all believers. I believe Isaiah 28:11 is speaking prophetically of praying in the spirit, “ For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.” I don’t know if you have ever got to a point of desperation in your prayers or so strongly have felt the presence of God that your lips began to just quiver, you stammered over words and just felt overwhelmed by how strongly you felt His presence. I have and I know many others who have experienced this. It is an amazing experience. It will draw you into realms of prayer and faith you never dreamed possible. Go back to Romans 8:26-27. It speaks about the Holy Spirit Himself intercedes through us. We often don’t have the words to pray as we want or need to and at times like these if we will yield to the Holy Spirit He will use our lips to intercede and very often it will come out in a language we do not know. At times like these we must trust the Holy Spirit as He prays through us. Matthew 6:8 says, our heavenly Father knows what things we have need of, before we ask him. Who better to pray for us than He who knows what we have need of even better than we do. Very often God has us intercede for someone we may not even know so how could we pray for them in our words when we don’t even know them or the need they have? Ezekiel 22:30 talks about this. “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” I heard a story once about a man who was woke up in the middle of the night and in his mind’s eye saw a group of men going through a jungle and a deadly snake dropped into the midst of them. He didn’t know them but began to pray in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit used him and probably others he didn’t know about to pray, right then, at that moment. Years later this man was speaking and relating this experience to a congregation and a man came up to him afterwards and asked him the date and time this happened. The man then related to him that he was a missionary and that the vision he had was of him and that he and his people were in the jungle and a snake did indeed drop into the middle of them and it bowed up ready to strike and then slithered away. It was the exact time the other man had prayed! On a more personal note I was awakened in the middle of the night, I think it was 1985, with an urgency to pray for someone I worked with named Carlton. I did not know what his need was so I prayed in the Spirit. That was at 3:00 in the morning. The next day I saw Carlton and told him about it and he got pale as a sheet as he said, “What time?”, then I told him and he went on to tell me that at that exact time he had a wreck in his car and literally was flipping end over end in his car and was not hurt! I don’t know why God uses us to intercede when He could just take care of it Himself, but He does. Perhaps we are more intimately connected and a part of God than we can comprehend. Perhaps it connects us closer to Him in some way when we are spiritually sensitive and pray in this manner. Prayer is an awesome thing if you truly understand the depths of it. I write in detail on this subject in another book I wrote called ‘Touching God’ if you would like to read it.

     Speaking in tongues is sometimes just to edify ourselves (1 Corinthians 14:4). There have been times I have just bubbled over in praise, in tongues, when I have been alone and sometimes in a congregation of like-minded people. These were times of refreshing and renewal.  Isaiah 28:12 and Acts 3:19 speaks about this refreshing and rest for the weary that comes from the Lord. I have heard many hard-working preachers tell me about times when they thought they were so wore out that they just couldn’t go on and God refreshed them and strengthened them even though they had missed much sleep. It does something to you that I cannot explain. It is like a renewal of joy bubbling up in you, cleaning out all the junk, strengthening you and leaves you loving God so much!

     I hope this helps anyone who seeks understanding about this subject. I just want to end with an appeal to all who are believers and love the Lord. Desire all that God has for you. And if you are one of those who have witnessed a disorderly display of tongues ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bath water’. Pray and search the scriptures for yourself. Don’t let some denomination’s beliefs or traditions hold you back from discovering the truth and experiencing the deeper things of God. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come”. (John 16:33). The Spirit of truth has come. Let Him speak for Himself. Let HIM lead you into all truth. Seek all of His gifts. It is like a soldier being issued the weapons he needs to win a battle by the expert who already knows what weapons will be effective against the enemy. Can you imagine a soldier being issued an M16 and turning it down in favor of a slingshot?! God knows what we need to be effective against the enemy and to win others to Christ. Trust Him. Who are we to argue with the Lord and King of all creation? What may seem foolish to us is often what God uses to destroy the enemy offenses and to draw people to Him. “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:27).



  • A language of prayer, praise and often revelation (Romans 8:26-27)
  • A sign to the unbeliever (1 Corinthians 14:22. Exemplified in Acts 2)
  • A gift to reveal things to the church in tongues and interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:27-33)
  • To edify yourself (1 Corinthians 14:4)




I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
You can receive our newsletter SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING at no charge! Special offers to subscribers! Great spiritual insights that are not religious but embraces spirituality that is relevant to us all.
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.
Posted by: wayofth9 on Category: Uncategorized

Enjoy this website? Please spread the word :)