In the spring of 1980, a few weeks after becoming a Christian, I was sitting in someone’s lounge, together with a group of teenagers like me. We all wanted to speak in tongues, but none of us had, even though a month earlier we had all had a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit. As someone was praying for us, I looked up and saw the ceiling turning fluid and something coming down onto us. The whole room was then filled with the presence of God. We all started laughing with joy and this amazing gift started to flow out of our mouths. It was incredible - it continued all through the evening and once back at home, most of the night. It was so powerful I felt sure it was strong enough to propel me through the rest of my life.
Over the years, however, I started to realise that the gift I had craved and treasured so much at first had started to become something I took for granted. Sometimes I used it, sometimes I didn’t. Then a few years ago, provoked by something that was said in a discipleship group, I decided to try praying in tongues each day for one hour. At first, it was something of an experiment, to see if I could actually do it. But very quickly it became a habit, and now it is an essential part of my life.
Here are three things I have discovered over the last few years:
- Praying in tongues changes the atmosphere. No matter how bad I feel, or how bad the circumstances, I will always feel better after praying in tongues for an hour. The bleaker the atmosphere around me, the more I need to pray in tongues.
- Praying in tongues strengthens me. It makes me more robust and resilient, a bit like a bike with a pumped-up tyre – it makes life easier to negotiate.
- Praying in tongues opens up other spiritual gifts. Very often, while I am praying, I will sense God giving me words of knowledge, wisdom or encouragement for individuals.
On a practical level, it helps me to actually set a timer to keep me on course. Here’s a trick – set a timer for 30 minutes, then set it again for another 30 minutes! It keeps your mind and body on track because we all know “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:41)