Have you ever gone to service and heard people worship in a language that's totally unfamiliar to you? This is called speaking in tongues. For those who don't know what this is, the language can sound weird or bizarre. However, once you learn more about speaking in tongues and how it came to be, you'll learn to appreciate it more and maybe, pray to receive this gift as well.
What is speaking in tongues?
Speaking in tongues is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It was first mentioned in the Book of Acts Chapter 2 verses 4-6. The verses said:
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.
Back then, those who spoke in tongues meant that God's spirit was working within the Apostles. However, it didn't mean that if a believer possesses this gift, that he is already saved. Speaking in tongues was more of helping the Apostles prove to the unbelievers that God's salvation was real. This was proven in the verse 1 Corinthians 14:22:
Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers.
Nowadays, the confusion lies in trying to understand what the words uttered in tongues mean. For some, tongues sound like babble, but it really isn't. Tongues are based on real languages and when the Holy Spirit gives you this gift, you can consider it a direct line to the Lord. When in solemn worship, the Spirit works within you resulting in the speaking of tongues.
Can anyone speak in tongues?
No, not everyone can speak tongues, and that's because not everyone is given the gift. In fact, not everyone who speaks in tongues can interpret what they're saying. This is actually another gift of the Holy Spirit.
There are Christians who really pray hard to have the gift of tongues if this is indeed the gift they want to have. The other gifts one can have are the gift of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning spirits, interpreting tongues, administration, and the gift of helps.
Just like not every Christian will have the gift of healing, not everyone who asks for the gift of tongues will be presented with it, as well. But today, there seems to be pressure in speaking in tongues when you're part of a congregation with the majority of the people speaking it. However, the gift of tongues is in no way a sign of how faithful or devoted a Christian is, and any feelings of inadequecy or lack of faith are completely unfounded if based on whether someone prays in tongues or does not.
Why do Christians speak in tongues?
The main reason why Christians speak in tongues is to worship and exalt God, nothing more nothing less. It's all about praising God. There should not be any abuse when using this gift. In 1 Corinthians 14:32-33, Paul explained that true spiritual gifts must be controlled by those who possess them and it should be used with order.
32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord's people.
According to Paul, when someone speaks in tongues, it should be interpreted. This is because speaking in tongues can only benefit one man, it won't help others know God better. The interpretation will also help prove that the tongues are used to praise God and not just a show of prophetic statements to impress other people.
Yes, speaking in tongues is real and it is a real gift from the Holy Spirit. It's not sorcery nor is it devil's work. What does it mean exactly? That differs from one person to another. But if there's one thing you must keep in mind, it is that tongues must be spoken with Christian love. Otherwise, it will mean nothing and will not serve its purpose. Is the gift of tongues a spiritual gift you want to possess? You can read more about it in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 to 14.