Why Pray in Tongues if I Don’t Know When I’ve Been Answered?

Robby Bradford1 Corinthians, 31 Days, baptism in the Holy Spirit, Charismatic Christianity, gifts of the Spirit, Holy Spirit, Pentecostalism, speaking in tonguesLeave a Comment

Here is #7 of 31 Questions in 31 Days! To learn more about this 31 Day series, just search “31 Questions” in the search bar above or click here! 

Q #7:  If I can’t understand what I’m praying about when I pray in the Spirit, how do I know when my prayers are answered?


A:  This is a great question because many people wonder about just this kind of thing.  In fact, here in Western Christianity, we are far more comfortable with linear, rational, logical approaches to our faith than with practices or experiences that are mysterious, mystical or are open to interpretation.

Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity are somewhat more open to experiences that can’t be fully explained or even understood because they appreciate the fact that experiences with the Holy Spirit happen with a God who is infinite, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.  This recognition that interacting with God happens in a plane we don’t always understand may make tongue-speaking Christians open to what I would call the “supra rational” .  The nature of the spiritual practice of praying in tongues or praying in the Spirit is that it goes beyond what our limited minds can grasp or fully process.


Praying in the Spirit is employed when a person seeks to express what is going on in their spirit with words that are unknown to the speaker.  “For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 14:2).   Notice that Paul writes here that such prayer is done “by the Spirit”–that is to say that praying in tongues is prompted by, empowered by, and finds its origin in God’s Spirit.  When I am praying in the Holy Spirit, I am God’s intent, desires, plan, blessings over whatever I am praying for.  While we don’t know what’s being said, we can definitely say that good come from praying in the Spirit.


Paul also points out in 1 Corinthians 14:14-15, For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.  So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.  These verses make it clear that we should also pray in a way that we can understand.  Most prayer is motivated from a less mystical, more rational place.


You can see more of my posts on the phenomenon of speaking in tongues by putting the phrase “speaking in tongues” into the search on this page.  A great book on speaking in tongues can be found by clicking here.


Check out more posts from the 31 Questions series on subjects as varied as marijuanainfidelity666the eternal destiny of children who die, dealing with discouragement, and even more about speaking in tongues!

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