It was a shocking admission by the head of one of the largest liberal denominations not only in England, but the world. In an interview with the Christian radio station, Premier Radio, Justin Welby, who as the Archbishop of Canterbury heads the Church of England and world-wide Anglican Church, stated that he prays in Tongues everyday.
“In my own prayer life, and as part of my daily discipline, I pray in tongues every day — not an occasional thing, but as part of my daily prayer.”
Welby is part of the Evangelical wing of the Church of England that believes the Bible is the inerrant word of God. (Note: Not everyone in the Church of England holds this view.)
Because of this belief, Welby also believes that the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in the Bible are for today and available to all who believe in Christ.
According to an interview Welby had with The Guardian, he received the Gift of Tongues at 19 after being filled with the Holy Spirit. He recalls the moment it happened after the Holy Spirit had personally impacted him with the truth of John 3:16 that reads, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
“It was from that moment and in the days that followed, I realized that the Holy Spirit of God had touched me in a powerful way. I began to speak in tongues and began to speak in tongues and began to learn the intimacy that Christ brings us.”
The gift of tongues is another language, sometime angelic and sometimes human, that the Holy Spirit gives to people as a prayer language. Just before His ascension to heaven, Jesus promised the gift of tongues to His disciples (Mark 16:17) that was given for our personal edification or strengthening:
“One who speaks in tongues edifies himself. (1 Corinthians 14:4 NASV_
I also received the gift of tongues, but my experience was a bit different. I was attending what was essentially a hippie Charismatic church, while I was going to seminary. The seminary did not approve of the gift of tongues and as a result, I developed a very negative attitude about the gift, even though I was attending a church that promoted it.
One night at a prayer meeting at a church member’s home, I asked to be filled by the Holy Spirit. Several people laid hands on me and I was instantly filled. It was powerful time, and I was immediately overwhelmed with joy.
As soon as this happened, I felt a burning sensation starting from the top of my stomach and moving up my throat. I immediately suspected this was the gift of tongues and because of the negative impression I had of this gift, I suppressed it.
It happened a couple more times and I each time I pushed it back and the feeling subsided.
But the Holy Spirit wasn’t done just yet.
A couple of weeks later, I was manning a Christian outreach table at our local university. I was praying silently to myself, when I saw one of the members of our church coming down the hallway. Temporarily distracted by his arrival, the Holy Spirit instantly moved and this burning sensation traveled rapidly from my stomach up my throat and before I could stop it, I was speaking in tongues.
At the moment, I felt the Holy Spirit distinctly say to me, “Now you are numbered among them.”
I was now one of those, who I had previously criticized.
Archbishop Welby went on to say that he also received words of knowledge and prophecy from other believers. These are also mentioned as gifts of the Holy Spirit:
8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit … and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:8 & 10 NASV)
Words of knowledge are basically information given by God on situations taking place in another person’s life. This differs from prophecy that provides future information.
Archbishop Welby stated he doesn’t receive all prophecies at face value, but weighs them stating:
“[I expect to] hear from God through other people with words of knowledge or prophecies — some of which I am unsure about, others I can there being something in of the Spirit of God.”
From my experience, I have found that God will often use a word of knowledge along with a prophecy to confirm the latter’s legitimacy.
I had previously been working at a church where that pastor had fallen into sin and was removed in what was very dramatic and difficult experience. After that I took a secular job and a short time later my wife and I were transferred out of province to another city.
The first Sunday we attended a church in the new city, the pastor, who was more prophet than pastor, pulled us out of the congregation and gave us a prophetic word. It started with this:
“You were under a pastor who fell, and God has this to say to you….”
Because of that word of knowledge about our current situation, my wife and I were immediately attentive to the prophecy that followed.
So the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today and are intended to bless us. We are not better Christians, because we have them, than believers who do not. They are a blessing that the Holy Spirit wants to give all of us.