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Praying in the Spirit: Some Marvelous Effects of Praying in the Spirit

“Answers to the question asked about the value of tongues are outlined in Scripture and confirmed in the twentieth‑century charismatic experience.”

First, the Bible says that all the gifts of the Spirit are given “for the common good” of the Body of Christ or, in other words, to edify the church congregation in corporate worship (1 Corinthians 12:7), and this does not exclude the gifts of tongues and their interpretation.

In fact, while placing great value on prophecy, Paul suggests in 1 Corinthians 14 that the one who prophesies is not greater than the one who speaks in tongues if the utterance in tongues is interpreted. These two gifts, the only two gifts that are dependent upon each other, are, I believe, a model for the Body of Christ. No gifts of the Spirit better illustrate the dependency and cooperation of a body of members all functioning together than do the wedded gifts of tongues and interpretation.

Interestingly, scholars have pointed out that God’s scattering of the people at Babel was in a sense reversed at Pentecost, when God gave to man, once again, a common language. Today, we see the experience of speaking in other tongues breaking through denominational barriers that have stood relentlessly for years. A door has been cracked open, some would say blown open. . . blown open by the Spirit of God. There may be many beliefs among Christians, but there is only one Spirit. And the more we speak His language, the better we understand each other. In his book The Emerging Order, non‑Pentecostal Jeremy Rifkin writes that people “are speaking in tongues and the evidence is that they are communicating more effectively with each other as a result. Rather than setting up barriers, speaking in tongues appears to be knocking down walls” (p.227).

“No gifts of the Spirit better illustrate the dependency and cooperation of a body of members all functioning together than do the wedded gifts of tongues and interpretation.”

In Pentecostal and charismatic churches the value of the gift of tongues in corporate worship has been inestimable as time after time the Spirit has penetrated man’s world of worship to awaken congregations to a plane of existence beyond this world. Many Christians who experience speaking in tongues testify that since their experience they have been awakened to their role in the church, and they have become sensitive to opportunities to minister in and out of the church. For some, this charismatic experience has renewed a love for fellowship with other Christians and a greater appreciation for the church.

Paul suggests a second value of tongues when he writes that he speaks in tongues more than all the Corinthians while to the church he prefers to speak with his understanding (14:18-l9). The vast majority of tongues‑speaking occurs alone in the prayer closet. Paul states that this kind of prayer edifies or builds up the one who is praying.

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Category: Spirit, Spring 1999

About the Author: Robert W. Graves, M. A. (Literary Studies, Georgia State University), is the co-founder and president of The Foundation for Pentecostal Scholarship, Inc., a non-profit organization supporting Pentecostal scholarship through research grants. He is a Christian educator and a former faculty member of Southwestern Assemblies of God College in Waxahachie, Texas, and Kennesaw State University (adjunct). He edited and contributed to Strangers to Fire: When Tradition Trumps Scripture and is the author of Increasing Your Theological Vocabulary, Praying in the Spirit (1987 and Second Edition, 2017) and The Gospel According to Angels (Chosen Books, 1998).

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