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Posts Tagged ‘spiritual language’

Tongues, or spiritual languages, are a mystery. Anyone who says they are not, probably hasn’t experienced them. I think it’s intriguing that a person’s spirit can both sing and speak.

I Corinthians 14:15
So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.

I’m not interested in the controversies of whether to use tongues or not or whether they are a sign of the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” or the arguments that say tongues are “no longer needed in this age.” There are books a plenty that have disgorged on these topics. But I can share something of my own experience.

I came to my faith in Christ in December, 1979. Tom, who introduced me to the Bible and challenged me to read it (which is how I came to that Truth), followed up his introduction in the ensuing months with much talk about the “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” At the time, I had no idea this was not the norm. Since I knew so little about being a follower of Christ, it didn’t seem odd that I wouldn’t know about this either. He said I simply had to ask for it in prayer, and so I did. Nothing happened. Oh well.

Then, about a week later, during prayer (and in those early months, prayer was downright fun), I found myself no longer praying in English but in Latvian, the language I grew up with as a child. Now, that may not seem like a miracle to most people, but anyone who knows about languages, knows it’s a “use or lose” situation. The less one speaks, the less one is able to speak. I had been totally disconnected from my parents’ native language. And yet, here I was, speaking fluently in prayer. I didn’t even care about “tongues” then; this was way better.

After some weeks, I discovered the Latvian was a gift of sorts and with it came a deep healing as I prayed about my father, who never did learn to speak English. Through prayer, I was able to sort out my grief, disappointment, anger, and sense of abandonment at a father who died when I was only nine years old. By praying in Latvian, I was able to speak through God to my father. I forgave my father and clearly heard my God answer, that He would never leave me or forsake me [Hebrews 13:5]. I met “the Father” part of God in a clear and significant way in those first months of my faith journey.

Days after that, the Latvian morphed into one of those mysterious “tongues.” No effort, it just happened and I reveled in it. Only in later months and years did I discover contentiousness about this phenomenon. But I never cared about those who belittled the capability. I had already experienced something authentic and meaningful and nothing would take that away from me. And since it was clear that spiritual languages are for personal growth and devotion, that was all that mattered to me. I am no more or less spiritual because of it and yet it has enriched my prayer life.

I have been in corporate settings where group singing has manifested in tongues. When it was genuine, it was quite lovely and mesmerizing. When it was forced or triggered by the determination of a leader or practiced by tradition, I found it hollow. In any event, it’s not something to be performed. Singing in the spirit is another form of personal prayer.

“. . . 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.” [Romans 8:24]

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