For whatever reason, the gift of tongues has become one of the most controversial gifts of the Holy Spirit. So, before you dismiss this post because of something you may have previously heard or experienced relating to the gift of tongues, I encourage you to read on. Through this article, I wish to share how I’ve come to understand the blessing this gift is to the Church, and how in my own life, it has helped me grow in faith and proven to be useful for me in ministry situations.
I remember the moment I received the gift of praying in tongues clearly.
It was about 12 years ago. A group of us were spending time in prayer while preparing for a retreat, when one of the ministry team members placed his hand on my shoulder and began to intercede for me. In a low voice, I too was also praising and praying to God.
“All of a sudden, I found myself praying with greater intensity, in words and sounds I could not understand, and as best as I can describe, my prayer was being articulated from deep within my heart. It was a powerful moment as I felt captured by the Holy Spirit.”
Over the years, I have learned to better understand and develop this gift, using it in my own personal prayer times, as well as in ministry situations when praying for other people. What’s always struck me is how, in each scenario, the Holy Spirit’s action in drawing people closer to God (myself included) through the use of the gift of tongues was undeniable.
The gift of tongues is a recognized charism of the Holy Spirit and it manifests in different ways. The most common way is a gift of prayer that is useful to praise God and foster one’s own relationship with Him through utterances that we don’t understand. It has been described as the experience of letting the Holy Spirit pray through us in sounds or words that do not appear to form a part of any human language. Another way the gift is seen, though it is rare, is a charism by which a person speaks in a language he doesn’t know, but someone else understands what he is saying. Most famously, we see this form of the gift at Pentecost, when the Apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, were heard by the multitudes around them as speaking in their own native languages (Acts 2).
A major hurdle in trying to attain an authentic understanding of the gift of tongues is that the Church hasn’t explicitly defined it...