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How to pray in tongues


Introductory note: This page provides guidelines and scriptures to help you begin praying in the Holy Spirit and operating in the Spirit's gift of speaking in tongues. It answers, for example, the question, "Do I have to learn to pray in tongues?"


A visitor to this web site wrote:

"I am desperately trying to learn to speak in tongues. Is there something I am missing? I am afraid I will not learn how - can you help?"


The following is the answer I sent in reply, "In your question you mentioned about 'learning' to speak in tongues. What, then, are you expecting to come out of your mouth?"

Let me explain one or two things so you can understand this better. There is a gift of tongues where the believer by the Holy Spirit spontaneously speaks in a full language - a language of angels or of men. Here is what we read about this in the New Testament,

They...began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance...Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?

Acts 2:4,7-8 - NKJV


However, having quoted that, this is not the most commonly received gift of tongues among believers today. The gift of tongues most frequently received and exercised by believers is the gift of prayer in tongues. This gift is a very incomplete language. The New Testament refers to this as "groanings that cannot be uttered." Here's what we read on that in Paul's letter to the Romans,

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Romans 8:26 - NKJV


Sometimes these groanings of the heart come out of our mouths like the babbling of a baby. The sophistication of the sound made is not the important thing. The important thing is that the Holy Spirit is using it to facilitate a pouring out of the heart to God. The Psalmist encourages us to pour out our hearts to God,

Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.

Psalm 62:8 - NKJV


So if necessary just babble like a baby! Start praising God and yield you tongue to the stirrings that rise up from your heart by the Holy Spirit. Don't tune in to the sounds being made - attend to what is happening in your spirit. Try to gauge the depth of the outpouring that is taking place from your heart and go with. (As you do this, often over time the sounds emerging from your mouth become more varied and spiritually expressive.)

You'll get groanings that cannot be uttered in your known vocabulary! You'll get a tremendous release of pent up, heart-cries to God for His salvation and restoration! You'll get a new lightness in your spirit!

The apostle Paul provides us with great encouragement about what is happening when we are praying in the Spirit and by the Holy Spirit,

He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Romans 8:27 - NKJV


Some people may need a few words of explanation regarding one or two things I've written about so far in this article. For example, some might wonder why you need to ask for the Holy Spirit given that the Holy Spirit was poured out spontaneously on the first disciples apparently without a request from them. The reason for this is because by asking you are responding by faith to the words of Jesus regarding the gift of the Holy Spirit. Here is what He said,

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!

Luke 11:13 - NKJV


Another matter is that some people consider that praying in the Holy Spirit does not mean praying in a tongue. However, what is more helpful is to recognise that although it does not solely mean praying in a tongue it does mean praying in a tongue at times. This recognition is necessary because we read in 1 Corinthians 14:14 - 15 that the apostle Paul was used to praying in a tongue when he was praying in the spirit. Here is that scripture,

If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? 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.

1 Corinthians 14:14 - 15 - NKJV


Another visitor to this web site wrote:

"I received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit 22 years ago. It was a supernatural and satisfying experience. Since that night everything changed. When I pray in tongues it sounds so faky, repetitious and unsatisfying."
"What could be my problem? I love the Lord and try to please Him. I have prayed and asked the Lord about this and get no answer. When I see others enjoying this wonderful gift I'm saddened that for some reason I am not experiencing this as they do."


The following is the answer I sent in reply, "You know it just sounds like you've allowed your mind to interfere with the gift you've received in your heart. There is a place for understanding with the mind and for praying with the mind. However, the gift of speaking in tongues is a matter of the heart. By it the Holy Spirit ministers from your spirit. In a sense you have to shut your mind down while you operate in the gifts of the Spirit. See 1 Corinthians 14:14."

Whenever I desire or have a need to pray in tongues but my mind is interjecting thoughts and comments then I open my Bible to a scripture on speaking/praying in tongues and let my mind dwell on that while I open my mouth to pray in tongues from my spirit.

Here are some example scriptures for doing that: Romans 8:26-27, Jude 20-21, 1 Corinthians 14:2.

On a number of pages on this web site I provide further background to praying in tongues and some guidance and encouragement for it. Please use the links below to reach those pages.


Another visitor wrote:

"Why am I blocking the ability to speak in tongues? I have prayed for the Holy Spirit to come over me, but when my mouth opens nothing comes. Please tell me what I can do to possess this ability that I so sincerely desire!"


The following was my reply, "What you are experiencing is quite common in Europe and America. I think it arises because in Western society we are brought up to be very cerebral - everything, we are taught, has to make intellectual sense and praying in tongues does not!"

For this reason to start praying in tongues you have to tell your intellect to take a holiday. I find a good way of doing this is to open my Bible to one of the scriptures about praying in tongues like Romans 8:26-27 or Jude 20-21 and focus the entire attention of my intellect on the words written there. I then let my heart have my tongue while my intellect is occupied with the words of scripture.


Another visitor wrote:

"I am a born again Christain...how do I stop my mind from interferring me in praying in tongues?"


I sent this reply, "The way I deal with this problem when it arises is to open my Bible to one of the scriptures related to praying in tongues - e.g. Romans 8:26-27. I then have my mind (indeed, I command my mind) to focus on the text of the scripture. Then, while my mind does this, I let my tongue get on with praying what is coming up from my heart."


Recently a visitor wrote:

"I have been trying now for several years to pray in tongues. I babble like a baby etc, but how do you know when you are truly praying in tongues?"


My reply, "In Jude's epistle (verses 20 - 21) we are told, "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." This indicates that the answer to your question is: 1) You are truly praying in tongues when there is a building up of yourself spiritually in our Christian faith when you pray in tongues. 2) You are truly praying in tongues when praying in tongues help to keep you in the love of God. 3) You are truly praying in tongues when praying in tongues encourages you in looking to the Lord for His daily mercy."

Related pages

Use the links below to get to other pages on this site that have a similar subject to that which you've read about above.

Suggested eBooks

The following ebooks have been found by some readers of this web page to be potentially helpful to them:

Double Your Church Attendance Teach The Bible To Change Lives Building A House Of Worship