How I "Learned" to Speak in Tongues
When I first started exploring the topic of speaking in tongues, I battled with a lot of skepticism. I grew up with the idea that there wasn't any substance to "speaking in tongues," but that the phenomenon was merely an outflow of heightened emotion. Plus, I didn't have any Christian mentors in my established Christian community who endorsed speaking in tongues, put aside actually doing it themselves. However, after hearing testimony after testimony of people's lives being changed through supernatural encounters with God (accompanied by speaking in tongues), I felt as though my faith was strong enough to invite the Holy Spirit to fill me in whatever capacity He would. I remember praying this on a handful of occasions without any apparent result, but it caused me to go deeper in my investigation and I didn't give up.
One day (after several weeks), I prayed for the Spirit of God to fill me and to make it evident through my speaking in tongues, and three words came to my mind. I spoke them to my husband, who was with me at the time. We looked up the words, and they were Hebrew words. Later that day, a few more words came to me in the same fashion, and they also were Hebrew. Although this was intriguing, it still didn't convince me 100% that these words were actually from God's Spirit. Besides, it didn't seem to me that speaking in tongues should be so painstakingly slow and difficult!
Well, that was all for awhile. But several days later, I prayed to God saying, "Father, please teach me how to submit to your Spirit and speak in tongues!" And then I started speaking in tongues--very slowly. I spoke just a word or two at a time, as I waited to "hear" the words in my mind before speaking them. But I persisted and spoke whatever came to my mind for about 5 or 10 minutes in a row. "Lord, is this really what speaking in tongues is like? It sure doesn't seem like it should be like this," I said.
I had heard testimonies where people started speaking in tongues with just a syllable or two. But I didn't see any evidence of that sort of thing from Scripture, so I was skeptical and wondered whether this was simply a process of fooling oneself into learning how to speak fluent gibberish. I struggled with this, and I still struggle with it somewhat, especially when some Christians whole-heartedly teach that speaking in tongues is of the devil. But, I felt in my heart that there was something good about pursuing tongues, so I continued to do so. For I know that my Father in heaven gives good things to those who ask Him (Matthew 7:11).
After multiple "episodes" of speaking in tongues in a slow, painstaking manner, I again asked the Lord to teach me how to speak according to His Spirit. A few weeks ago, I had the thought that I didn't have to work so hard, and that I just needed to let go and quit over-analyzing everything that came out of my mouth. So, one day while I was in my house by myself, I just started speaking. I didn't "hear" any words in my mind. I just started speaking. It was flowing and natural, not painstaking and slow. I even spoke with emotion, although I didn't know what I was saying. Perhaps this is what the Apostle Paul is talking about when he says, "For if I speak in tongues, my spirit is praying, but I don't understand what I am saying" (1 Corinthians 14:14, NLT). Does Paul conclude that he shouldn't speak in tongues because he can't understand what he is saying? No--in fact, he says that he will pray and sing in tongues as well as with his mind (vs. 15). He says later that he is glad to speak in tongues more than anyone in the Corinthian church (vs. 18)!
Ever since that day when I first spoke "fluently" in tongues, it has been effortless for me to choose to speak in this fashion. On one occasion, I spoke in tongues for more than an hour and was intrigued to hear how the language shifted from sounding like Hebrew to a Romance language to an African language to something like Chinese. But even with this experience, I still have a little shadow of doubt concerning whether the words are truly from God's Spirit.
Recently, I came across a transcript of an interview with Sid Roth about supernatural languages here. Surprisingly, he once had the same shadow of doubt that I have. He spoke with words he didn't understand, but later he thought that perhaps he just made it all up. Sid then talks about the day when all his doubts disappeared. He prayed in tongues over a pregnant woman whose baby died in utero, and a Rabbi standing nearby informed Sid that he prophesied in an ancient form of Hebrew that the baby was with God and that she need not worry. From that day forward, he never doubted that tongues were from the Spirit of God!
I will keep pursuing God about supernatural languages, but an outside confirmation would sure be a huge faith-builder for me. Hopefully I will have the faith to speak in tongues in a situation where God could give me that sign of confirmation! It will take courage! But He is the one who gives me strength, and with God, nothing is impossible. God, please keep growing my heart to be more like Yours.
TO BE CONTINUED...