This gift first came to my notice about 20 years ago, and since then I have discovered numerous ways the Lord uses it which are not explicitly explained in the Bible. This sometimes creates a problem for people who hold to a legalistic view of speaking in tongues, but how can you be legalistic when discussing a gift from the Holy Spirit – the Wind (Ruarch) of God who blows where he wills?
What are some of the main characteristics of a spiritual language that make it useful in ministry?
- It can’t be understood by the human mind, meaning that the mind cannot intercept what is being said, interpret it and, as so often happens, disbelieve, block or distort the message.
It can be received by the human spirit. This means that the Holy Spirit, through the agency of the person speaking in spiritual language, can feed into the spirit of a person truth they need to hear. This happens even if the person is asleep or in a coma, or if the person’s mind would normally interfere.
Paul speaks of the gift of tongues in two contexts:
- In public, where tongues and interpretation of tongues are used in the congregation as a rough equivalent to prophecy; that is, speaking God’s truth directly into the lives of individuals or groups without reasoning it through, or using previous knowledge, or attempting to persuade by intellectual means.
In private, where it is for the spiritual edification of the person speaking. He gives little information about what this means, but it clearly involves the person being brought by the Holy Spirit into the Father’s presence to be told things about themselves and their relationship with him, that they can only receive in their spirit without interference from their mind.
Can you see that apart from how many people are involved there is little difference between these two? What God appears to be doing today is combining these two together so that one person can minister to another in the Spirit. Paul does not speak of this, but in his context where everyone expected to have the gift of tongues, he had no reason to. Neither does he forbid it, he just shares about what has been his own experience. Today, with our many hang ups and fears about tongues, God is enabling one with the free use of this gift to use it to assist in the edification of one who is not so free.
Many of you will have experienced Diana or myself or someone else praying into a person’s spirit using spiritual language; sometimes with interpretation, sometimes without. This is simply the Holy Spirit speaking directly into the person’s spirit, telling them things that their mind’s interpretation of life experiences have made it hard for them to hear. This is prophecy directly to the person, similar to a prophet speaking into their life. Interpretation takes place, but it may only be in the person’s spirit, in a form they can receive only in their spirit. The test is not what their mind hears but how their whole being responds to what God says.
Also, praying in tongues while ministering edifies the spirit of the person praying, so they move more freely in gifts such as discernment. They are then able to feel or hear things which the one being ministered to might not. For example, they may feel grief which the person is not yet in touch with. In this sense, also, interpretation is occurring. They pray and the Holy Spirit reveals what needs to be known.
This can also help to explain those occasions when public tongues might result in an ‘interpretation’ which for some reason does not ‘fit’ the tongue. The person praying in tongues causes a rise in the faith (edification) of themselves or someone else who then prophesies a message from God. One results in the other but it is not an interpretation.
At other times you may have experienced the use of tongues to discern the presence, location and nature of an evil spirit in or on a person being ministered to. I first encountered this when assisting Alison Hocking in ministry to a man with deep problems. She moved her hands around his body and spoke in tongues. When an evil spirit was encountered her language changed into one completely different, with a harsh, commanding tone. The evil spirit reacted to the presence of the Holy Spirit and was exposed. Then it could be commanded to leave. This is part of the gift of discernment of spirits.
I was thrown into the deep end of deliverance by having to minister to a big, muscle-bound, ex-drug addict hotel bouncer, with a team of inexperienced ladies for support. He knew he was demonised, and wanted to be free, but I could get no response from the demons. They refused to recognise what little authority I thought I had. So, remembering something Charles Kraft had told me, I resorted to praying in tongues. The reaction was immediate – his huge arm and shoulder muscles began to tense and bunch up, so much so that I was afraid he would hurt himself or someone else – perhaps me! So I simply forbade the demons to do him or anyone else any harm, and straight away he relaxed, and so did we! The demons still would not talk to me, but the man could hear them speaking in his mind and told me that they had disagreed with everything I had said in tongues. Neither of us knew what I was praying, but the demons did and feared and hated it. We then commanded the exposed demons out. Leanne Payne lists a number of things that make demons afraid, such as the Name of Jesus, Bibles, crucifixes, and holy water, as does Charles Kraft. We can add tongues to the list. Why do you think Satan has tried to bring this gift into such disrepute by going to all the trouble of creating counterfeits and stirring up fear and controversy about it among Christians?
Another thing we learned from Alison was the power of singing in tongues to a disturbed person. Numerous times as Alison has sung a beautiful spiritual lullaby to someone, I have watched them relax into the Father’s presence and even fall sound asleep. Diana could tell you what happened to her in this way. I have also heard Alison sing a spiritual war song which knocked 2000 people into stunned silence in the middle of a noisy worship session at the Proclaim Conference in 1993. This followed directly on from a prophecy the Lord gave me several days before about him giving her a song from him to sing. At the time I gave Alison this word neither of us had any idea what would result from it. Sometimes the Lord interprets what is sung. A related gift to this one is the ability to say or write what the Lord is saying in rhyming verse, something Diana once had an example of.