When is the last time you spoke in tongues? I am directing this question to myself, as much as I am to anyone else, because based on a recent survey I know at least a quarter of us have spoken in tongues.
But are still continuing this spiritual practice today?
A recent study conducted by Infinity Concepts and Grey Matter Research (ICGMR) in early August 2022 found that 25% of American Christians have spoken in tongues. Included in this percentage were people who did not consider themselves charismatic or did not attend a Pentecostal church.
The survey entitled, “The Renewalists: Pentecostal and Charismatic Evangelicals,” also found that 13% of those surveyed attended a Pentecostal/Charismatic church and of those who did 55% had spoken in tongues, which means 45% had not.
So, back to my original question, if you have received this gift of the Holy Spirit, when was the last time you used this gift?
I ask this because, despite the controversy, the gift of Tongues is an important part of our walk with God.
The gift of Tongues takes place as the Holy Spirit moves and speaks through us. That was how it was defined on the Day of Pentecost when we were told that the Holy Spirit was giving them utterance. By definition, speaking in Tongues involves a release of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:4 ESV)
If you are feeling dead spiritually, the activation of this gift can restore your spiritual life.In fact, the Apostle Paul states that this is one of the major benefits of this gift:
4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. (1 Corinthians 14:4 ESV)
The gift of Tongues builds us up or as other versions read edifies us.
The Greek word, oikodomeō, translated “builds up” in the ESV, refers to building, repairing, or literally embellishing, renovating and adding an addition to the building.
As we speak in tongues, the release of the Holy Spirit begins to repair areas of spiritual damage caused by unbelief, doubt, worry, and fear.
But more than that, this release not only makes repairs but will actually strengthen those weakened areas to better withstand future assaults.
This suggests that the times we should be utilizing this gift are when we least feel like it.
Dr. Carl Peterson on the physical benefits of speaking in Tongues
But the gift may involve more than spiritual healing, it may also fortify our physical health.
In 2011, Dr. Carl Peterson, M.D, who specialized in the brain, was working at Oral Roberts University when he decided to conduct a study on the potential physical benefits that come with speaking in tongues.
Similar to the survey, Dr. Peterson starts off by saying that he is not charismatic but found himself speaking in tongues even though no one had laid hands on him.
Dr. Peterson decided to research if there was anything happening in the human body when a person spoke in tongues. He found that if people spoke in tongues for an extended period of time, the brain released between 35% to 40% more endorphins and enkephalons into our body.
Peterson writes that these two chemicals not only “boost our immune system”, but this release also “promotes healing within our bodies.”
In other words, speaking in tongues not only provides spiritual repair but physical as well.
Is the gift of tongues a sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
I want to briefly address one of the more controversial issues surrounding the gift of tongues, namely, is it the sign that you have been filled with the Holy Spirit?
I have to admit that I am completely double-minded on this issue.
Traditionally, I have felt that it wasn’t and believe you can be filled with the Holy Spirit and not speak in tongues, as was my personal experience for several weeks, though I did eventually speak in Tongues.
But I also believe that because of its spiritual and physical benefits, it is probably the most common gift that the Holy Spirit gives believers.
And we see that when the Apostle Paul encountered 12 men near Ephesus who were believers, but had not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Paul laid his hands on the group, and we are specifically told they all began to speak in tongues and prophesy:
“And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. (Acts 19:6 ESV)
So I was a bit concerned when ICGMR’s survey found that 45% of people who attended a charismatic/Pentecostal church did not speak in Tongues, because I suspect this percentage should be much higher.
However, like the group of men that Paul encountered near Ephesus, it may reflect a more concerning problem that people are not baptized with the Holy Spirit.