(By Larry Sparks) One of the most controversial and, sadly, most misunderstood gifts of the Holy Spirit is praying in tongues. I am convinced that there is so much antagonism aimed at this gift because of the incredible power it releases into our lives. In the same way that many reject the prophetic ministry because of abuses, misuses and bad experiences, the same approach has been taken—perhaps in greater extremes—toward praying in tongues.
Tongues Is a Controversial Subject That Requires Our Attention
At the end of the day, we need to be honest with ourselves and honest with the biblical text. This unique gift of the Holy Spirit actually announced the birth of Christianity on the Day of Pentecost. It was highly prized by the man who wrote the majority of the New Testament (Paul). It equips believers to communicate with God on a unique level and empowers us to effectively live the supernatural life. In short, it would make a lot of sense that the enemy would tirelessly fight against something that has such strong potential to pillage his expansion of darkness in our lives and on the earth.
Corey Russell, a senior leader at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, wrote the book and curriculum The Glory Within not simply as a teaching on the subject of tongues, but as a summons to experience the power of a Person—the Holy Spirit. In the past, many books and teachings have emphasized tongues in almost a robotic way. What was intended to be a source of supernatural power and a catalyst for deep intimacy with God has been reduced to a mere theological position in many charismatic churches.
Speaking in Tongues Is More Than a One-Time Experience
The Glory Within makes the powerful point that tongues is not some spiritual merit badge we receive when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, use it for a season, and then put it out to pasture. Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke comments on the gifts of the Spirit, emphasizing that “they are not badges of honor but tools for the job.” The gift of tongues is something that the apostle Paul deeply cherished, and he provided nearly an entire chapter of instruction on it in 1 Corinthians 14. This is not a call to place an inappropriate emphasis on tongues, as many have done in the past; it is, however, an invitation to re-evaluate where we stand on its purpose, relevance and present-day power in our everyday Christian lives.
In fact, Corey took the additional bold step and developed a DVD-based Bible study focusing on how a lifestyle of consistently praying in tongues significantly benefits your Christian life. It is not spooky. It is not exclusive to the super-spiritual. It does not even signify elevated spiritual maturity. Tongues is a gift. It is a tool. It is powerful, available and absolutely life-changing. However, many receive this gift at one point in their lives and taste its power, but they never actually make it a part of their normal Christian lives. This is why Corey invites all readers and participants to “throw their badges in the trash.” Yesterday’s encounter with God cannot sustain us for today. Yesterday’s touch is insufficient for today’s trials.
Do You Really Know Who Lives Inside of You?
In these powerful resources, Corey takes you on a journey, revisiting some of the most familiar and yet misunderstood topics on the Holy Spirit: Do we really understand that God lives inside of us? In the introductory sessions about the Person of Holy Spirit—who He is, what He does, and His purpose in the life of the believer—you will be absolutely awestruck. I am convinced that if we really get a clear revelation of the fact that the Genesis 1:1 God—the One who said “light be” and light was—lives inside of us in the Person of Holy Spirit, it would become impossible for us to change the subject. We would devote our lives to discovering how to see the living God accurately represented in the earth through our lives. You will be inspired and encouraged as you discover who it is that decided to take up residence in your spirit—and what He wants to do through you!
Larry Sparks is the author of Breakthrough Healing (Destiny Image, 2014). He is a conference speaker, blogger, columnist and host of the weekly radio program Voice of Destiny (www.thevoiceofdestiny.org). Featured in Charisma magazine and on CBN’s Spiritual Gifts webcast, Larry is also founder of Equip Culture—a ministry that equips believers with the tools and resources to live victoriously through the supernatural power of God. Subscribe to his blog at www.lawrencesparks.com. Follow him on Twitter @LarryVSparks.