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

In addition to these effects of praying in the Spirit, this gift has also been credited with rescuing burned‑out missionaries ready to leave their labor and ministers on the verge of calling it quits. Others have testified that the experience allowed them to receive inner healing from childhood traumas. Still others have told how the experience brought healing to their troubled marriages. Charismatic George Mallone writes that tongues can even be helpful in bearing physical pain. He cites as proof his wife’s singing in tongues during the birth of their second child (p.23)!

“The gift of tongues is not unique in the sense that it is a ministry gift for some, yet may be exercised by all other Christians as well.”

Whether it be Scripture reading, fellowshipping, praying, or witnessing, everything that is esteemed by evangelical Christendom is enhanced by the charismatic experience. It has put the name of Jesus on the lips of many, many who had been Christians for years but had been unable to speak His name aloud. Never have so many felt so comfortable about speaking the name of Jesus to the world. And this is the greatest value of praying in the Spirit.

 

Criticism of  Devotional Tongues

At this juncture we should look at two major criticisms of these biblically based teachings. First, some critics have adamantly held that not all Christians can have the gift of tongues, so we mustn’t try to force it upon everyone. In a sense, they are correct. Paul clearly states that not all have the gift of speaking in tongues. The English translation of 1 Corinthians 12:30, “Do all speak in tongues?”, becomes a rhetorical question that demands no for an answer. In the Greek version “no”actually appears. We could hardly expect any other answer after what Paul has just said about diversity of gifts and ministries (1 Corinthians 12).

Thus, this seems, at first glance, to refute the Pentecostal‑charismatic position that advocates tongues‑speaking for every Christian.

But if we look at the context of this passage more closely we see an important distinction. Paul is discussing here ministries and positions to be used in the church. In this regard, he is saying that not all have the gift of delivering an utterance in tongues for congregational edification or ministry just as all are not apostles or teachers within a congregation. He is not talking about the personal or devotional use of tongues, or the occurrence of tongues when a Christian is baptized in the Holy Spirit such as Luke cites in Acts 19:6. The natures of congregational tongues and personal tongues are identical, but their functions are quite different. A parallel listing of the differences between the two underscores this:

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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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