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When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.  (Acts 2:1-4)
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!  (Luke 11:13)
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. (1 Corinthians 12:27-31)
Today we’re going to explore what the gift of tongues is and tomorrow we’ll focus on the gift of prophecy. First and foremost, these are gifts given by the Holy Spirit that enable followers of Jesus to function in their pursuit of him and equip the local Church as God’s mouthpiece.

‘Tongues’ simply means ‘languages’. It refers to the God given ability to speak to God in a language that the speaker has never learned and doesn’t understand.

Tongues releases us from the limits of our understanding or vocabulary. This is wonderfully helpful:
  • When we worship - our spirit can praise God for attributes that our minds simply could not grasp.
  • When we are overwhelmed - our spirits can continue to engage with God even when our mind is frozen by anxiety, grief or fear.
  • When we are underwhelmed – our spirits can worship even when our bodies are tired or emotions flat.
  • When we don’t understand – we can pray even when we don’t know what we should be praying.

This doesn’t mean that we stop using our minds; “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”. (1 Corinthian 14:15). There is a mysterious interplay between our minds and our spirits. Just as our spirit is fed when we use our mind to study God’s Word, so our mind is enlightened when our spirit interacts with God’s Spirit as we pray in tongues. People often find that after praying in tongues, their prayers and worship in their native language become more profound. That’s why it’s worth persevering in activating the gift of tongues that God has given you through his Holy Spirit.
If you are struggling to activate the gift of tongues, here are a few points to provide some direction:
  1. You’ve got to eagerly desire it (1 Corinthians 14:1) The desire for tongues will be strongest in those who already desire to worship and pray. If you lack even that desire, you can ask God to awaken a desire for it.
  2. You need to ask for the gift (Luke 11:13). This might sound obvious but it’s crucial and needs remembering.
  3. Get someone who already has the gift to pray with you. Worship God together and when they speak in tongues try to join in. Keep practicing – muscles grow when you use them, and abilities increase with practice. 2 Timothy 1:6 encourages us: “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame (stir up) the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”
  4. Move your tongue! That’s the way you speak. The Holy Spirit won’t speak in tongues for you. You decide when to pray in tongues and you decide when to stop. You decide when the time is appropriate and when it’s not.

The gift of tongues may be considered as one of the more ‘unusual’ aspects of Christianity, but it is a wonderful gift, given by a Heavenly Father who knows what we need. Our desire as a church family should be to embrace and enjoy all the gifts of the Spirit; not to choose embarrassment or inexperience as our starting point. As the church emerges from lockdown, it needs the gift of tongues, as much as it ever has.
  1. Have you received the gift of tongues? If so, how has it impacted your prayer life?
  2. If not, when was the last time you asked God for it? Why might you be hesitant?
  3. What might be hindering you from utilising this gift more, in both a private setting or a public gathering?
Father God, I thank you that you have made a gift available that enables us to speak to you in a new way. Even though we might not fully understand what we’re saying as we speak in tongues, I thank you that it comes from our hearts and helps reveal to us the extent in which you’re willing and able to access our hearts. I ask that the gift of tongues would equip me to speak to you more fluently and passionately. For your glory and my good. Amen.
Today’s Everyday Devotions were brought to you by Adam Bream and David Featherstone, who lead Everyday Southfields and Everyday Sutton.

If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.

Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.

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