1 Corinthians 14:14-15 – If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.

An unknown tongue is a supernatural utterance initiated by the Holy Spirit. It is a language that has not been learned by the speaker nor understood by the mind of the speaker. It has nothing whatsoever to do with linguistic ability, but is a manifestation of the Spirit of God employing human speech organs. Some may ask, what is the use or purpose of speaking with tongues?

In the Acts of the Apostles, the gift of tongues is seen as a “sign gift.” It was a sign to the Jews that the kingdom of God had come as revealed by the Prophets (Acts 2). It was also a sign to the Jews that the Gentiles were accepted and made part of the kingdom (Acts 10). Tongues were also a sign to the twelve disciples Paul found at Ephesus. When Paul prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit, they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul makes a distinction between the gift of tongues in bringing a message in the assembly and tongues as a devotional help in prayer and worship. Paul speaks of tongues as a sign to the unbeliever or the ungifted person (1 Cor. 14:22). Earlier in the chapter, he spoke of tongues as a help in prayer and worship (1 Cor. 14:14-15).

Paul says that the one who speaks in tongues does not speak to men, but to God. In his spirit he speaks mysteries, in other words, things unknown to the speaker or listener (1 Corinthians 14:2). As in the apostolic days, so it is today. Many of God’s people have received this gift. Tongues are most useful in assisting our prayer life and worship of the Lord. Sometimes they may be used to bring a message with the gift of interpretation, but more often, the gift is personal and useful in prayer and worship.

Paul teaches that “One who speaks in tongues does not speak to men, but God (1 Corinthians 14:2). While Peter preached the Gospel to the Gentiles, they received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. “All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. “For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and exalting God” (Acts 10:45-46). There are no terms in natural speech appropriate to express the Greatness and Excellence of God. Those who have had the joy of seeing others filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues can recall how most, lovingly adored Jesus.

Paul asks the rhetorical question, “All do not speak with tongues, do they?” He also indicates throughout 1Corinthians 14 that all could. Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to speak with His help in your prayer and worship of our great king. Pray, Lord, I yield my voice to You. Use me to speak of Your greatness and Your glory.