Lesson Fifteen


Praying in the Spirit

A Note About Tongues


Since the charismatic movement in the early 1960’s, tongues has been a stepping-stone to some and a stumbling block to others. Much research has since been completed by scalars in both camps. We find that in every revival since the early Church, there were those that spoke (of Prayed) in tongs. Scholarly books as: Charismatic Gifts in the Early Church by Ronald A.N. Kydd and Charismatic Experiences in History edited by Cecil M. Robeck, jr. has shown that this gift of God has always been present in the Church. The purpose of this lesson is to show the Biblical benefits of praying in the Spirit.


I.                   What is Tongues?


I & II Corinthians has been many times called “I & II Corrections.” There were things in the Church at Corinth that had gotten out of hand. The Apostle Paul wrote their epistles to correct some of the problems. If it were not fort Paul having to bring correction concerning the use of tongues in Corinth, we may not have had a clear presentation of its purpose and use. Lets look at I. Corinthians 14


a.       The problem in the Corinthian Church was that when everyone got together, everyone spent the time together praying in tongues. (Any one gift or ministry overemphasized in a Church can bring imbalance.) Lets look at the possible historical reason that tongues got out of hand in Corinth.

Corinth was world famous for the “Oracles of Delphi.” At different times throughout History world leaders to include Caesar had sought revelation from the oracles. An individual, usually a woman, would sit over a sulfur pit and speak in an incoherent manner. An interpreter would then write out the prophecy. Those that were chosen for this were considered the elect and super-spiritual. Those in Corinth associated the gift tongues as proving that they were super-spiritual, rather than understanding the true nature of this gift.

In the Charismatic Movement, The same pride has been seen. Praying in tongues is not a proof of some super-spiritual level one has reached, but rather a tool to be used by the Christian. In this lesson, we will look at the benefits of praying in tongues.


b.      Vs 2-4 – Here Paul tells us that when we pray in tongues, it is not to show spirituality or to speak or impress men. We speak to God. In the Spirit-Filled Study Bible, We find this footnote: “ Paul’s assertion clearly establishes the primary purpose for tongues as the gift of the Spirit for private worship. It is a unique God ward and not a man ward gift, unless interpreted so the hearers may understand (v.5.) Tongues are intended for personal prayer and praise to God (v.14; 17) Therefore, they can take on a strictly spiritual form of expression, since man is not the foal. The seat of their operation is not the mind, but the spirit (vv. 14; 15). They are an enablement of the Spirit for no conceptual communication directly with God, who is Spirit (john 4:24). This is why they are so vastly important and constantly used by Paul (v. 18) Mysteries, as elsewhere in the NT, refers to secrets which have been divinely revealed.”

In verse 4, we read, “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself…” The word translated “edifies” is the Greek word oikodomeo (oy-kod-om-eh’-o) which means not only to build repair or establish, but to grow ain wisdom and piety.” Thus we see that praying in the spirit not only builds, establishes, and repairs things spiritually but promotes growth in all of these areas. Paul says in verse 4 that it builds up the individual in the same way that hearing a prophetic word will build and promote growth in the body of Christ.


c.       While Praying in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit can intercede through us. Romans 8:26-27


While praying in the Spirit, the Spirit of God can pray through our spirit man the perfect will of God. He helps us when we do not know what to pray. When we come into situations in which we are unsure of how to pray, we can pray in the Spirit until we feel a release from God.


d.      Paul’s Feelings concerning Tongues – Vs. 5


Paul shares that he wishes that they all spoke with tongues in their private time with God, But in public services, he places the emphasis on speaking a clear word from God that the whole church might be edified,


e.       Let him that prays in a tongue pray that he may interpret – Vs. 13


We have already discovered that when we pray in the spirit that the mysteries of God are flowing through us. Not only can we pray for an interpretation during a Church service so that edification may come to the body, but we can pray for an interpretation in our prayer life that our minds may be edified.


f.        I will Pray and worship in Spirit and my understanding vv. 14-15


Here Paul shows divine balance in the life of the Christian. I will pray and worship God both with my understanding and with my spirit. Both are vital and necessary in the life of the believer.


g.       His personal emphasis on tongues vs. 18


Paul shows that in his personal prayer life that he prayed more in the spirit than anyone else in all the Corinthian Church. This shows that he was a firm believer in praying in the Spirit, but he kept it in balance. In the next verse he says “but in the Church, I would rather speak through my understanding.” Why, so that they, rather than he, would be edified.


h.       Paul’s finial word on tongues vs 39.


The Biblical mandate concerning tongues is that we MUST NOT forbid it. Let’s use it and put it into proper perspective and proper use!




1.      What is Praying in the Spirit?

2.      What was the problem with tongues in Corinth?

3.      What benefits are there from praying in the spirit?

4.      What is the proper biblical balance for the use of Tongues?


Mark and Patti Virkler have granted permission to draw this information from
their book, “Communion With God Study Guide”.
You can get more information at their website www.cwgministries.org