Introduction: Speaking in tongues is one of the signs that follow those who believe (Mark 16:15-17). Every child of God should seek to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues (John 7:38). If you are a child of God and you are not yet baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues, you should earnestly desire to be baptized as soon as possible. You cannot live a victorious Christian life easily without the Holy Spirit. Many things you desire to accomplish spiritually will be practically difficult because it is the infilling with the Holy Spirit that gives you power to be a witness to all that is in Christ Jesus. If you speak in tongues, you charge yourself spiritually, and that makes it easier for your spirit to be in tune with God and your prayers to be answered (Romans 8:26-27, Jude 20). Why not speak in tongues more often to build yourself up and achieve more (1 Cor 14:4a). Remember you are in a better position to partake of your inheritance in Christ when you are built up spiritually.
Speaking in diverse tongues (1 Corinthians 12 and 14) is however different from speaking in tongues. It is one of the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives some children of God after they are baptized. Such people speak several types of tongues. for instance, the same person who is a Yoruba lady and does not understand Hausa at all may be able to speak Hausa, German, Spanish and French.
The purpose of spiritual gifts
The gift of speaking in diverse tongues is not for personal aggrandizement. It is to build up the people of God but that cannot be achieved unless the same person or someone else interprets. Therefore, if someone who has the gift is inspired to speak, the church should give him or another person the opportunity to interpret; otherwise nothing has been achieved. When someone speaks in tongues and he or another person interprets, the effect will be equal to prophecy because the people of God will understand what God is saying to them (1 Corinthians 14:5).
Prophesies are meant to encourage, build up and console the people of God. (Please note that prophecy should not create fear, degrade or make children of God sad (1 Corinthians 14:3)). Someone who prophesies is rated higher than someone who speaks in diverse tongues without interpretation (1 Cor 14:5).
The gift of speaking in diverse tongues becomes very useful in situations where the minister does not understand the language of the people he is meant to preach to and through the gift of the Holy Spirit, he is able to speak it to them.
If the people you are speaking to don’t understand the language you are speaking and there is nobody to interpret, then you should keep quiet. Someone speaking in tongues in church does not edify the other people if nobody interprets; it is just like babbling (1Cor 14:9).
Don’t forbid speaking in tongues, it is the will of God
The message in 1 Cor 14: 6-13 is a discussion of an approach that is better for ministers to use when they come to minister to people. This section of the chapter is not referring to the time Christians pray together in a fellowship or church meeting.
Paul said in 1 Cor 14:19, that he will rather speak five words that will be understood by others in the church than speak thousands in tongues except there is an interpreter. Speaking in tongues in the church as a form of ministration is not encouraged as much as prophesying except you have interpretation but it is good for prayers.
Praying in tongues builds up Christians (Jude 20). There is nothing wrong with Christians praying together in the Spirit and speaking in tongues. The most important thing is that when you are in praying in tongues, your voice should not be too loud to disturb other people and prevent them from praying. This is even more important in orthodox settings where some people are not born again or do not believe in speaking in tongues. It will be necessary to be more modest in such settings so that you don’t run in vain and tune off the same people you are trying to win for Christ.
If you are leading prayers in church, be careful not to shout strange tongues into the microphone; you may be disturbing some people. After calling out a prayer point, you can pray in tongues if you wish but don’t use the microphone at such times. Whenever you are praying in tongues and there is nobody to interpret, the activity is personal, it is not obviously beneficial to the people listening to you therefore it should not take all the time. Take time to also pray in the language that the people understand and they will be able to agree with the prayers to make it a cooperate prayer indeed.
If everyone during prayer time joins the person leading the prayers to speak in tongues, everyone will be charged and filled with the Spirit and that will be highly beneficial. There is nothing wrong with speaking in tongues during corporate prayers. Paul said in 1 Cor 14: 15 that the conclusion is ‘I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.
The lesson here is that we should desist from doing jargons in the church. Anything we would do in the church should be things that make sense to the people of God and will be of profit to them, otherwise it’s not necessary to be done in the church. Can you imagine if Paul would speak strongly against speaking in tongues in the church like this, how would he speak then concerning joking, jesting and other things that we do in the church which do not edify the people of God in any way.
Conclusion: Paul concluded the admonition by saying that people should desire earnestly to prophesy, and not to forbid to speak with tongues. This Scripture encouraged decency and order in the church, it did not discourage speaking in tongues (1 Cor 14:39&40).