Speaking in tongues is a prayer that the Holy Spirit gives to the person praying. It is done in a language that the praying person does not understand. When we pray in tongues, we are not blocked by our own habits, reflections and concerns, but the Holy Spirit has the freedom to let us pray what is appropriate, necessary or important at this moment. The prayer in tongues is a great help when we do not know what to pray now, or when we are too tired and exhausted to even think clearly.
The interpretation of a prayer in tongues is a prayer given by the Holy Spirit, which reproduces the content of the prayer in tongues in a language that is understandable to those who are participating in the prayer. I, Reiner, have myself experienced how someone who understood the foreign language of a prayer in tongues was able to confirm the given interpretation of that prayer in tongues. I have experienced how prayers in tongues and their interpretation have been a great help in praising God and praying better in prayer gatherings.
In some ways, prayer in tongues is like reciting a poem in a foreign language you don’t know: it is exuberant if the person praying is otherwise exuberant, it is very sober and dry if the person praying is normally sober and dry.
It is never compulsive, the person who prays decides whether to pray it or not. However, it happens that in certain situations one discovers that the Holy Spirit prays in us in tongues. Overall, praying in tongues is an aid to personal prayer and helps us grow in faith and relationship with Jesus Christ. Together with the gift of interpretation, it is a great asset for the prayer of the congregation.
Prayer in tongues and its interpretation is given to us when we ask God for it. Even if we do not understand the content of the prayer in tongues, we can be sure that God does not give us anything wrong or even poisonous with it (Mt. 7, 8 – 11). According to 1. Cor. 13, 8 -12 the prayer in tongues will stop as soon as we see God face to face. However, this has not happened yet, and therefore the prayer in tongues and its interpretation are still legitimate and helpful gifts of the Holy Spirit.
In 1 Cor. 14, Paul exhorts the church in Corinth to strive with great zeal for the gifts of praying in tongues and interpreting tongues. There should be room for this in the worship services.
How is it, then, that for many years in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ, prayer in tongues played almost no part? It seems to us that there are two reasons for this: On the one hand, it is not clear to many Christians how much we really need the Holy Spirit for our life as Christians, and it seems to them to be quite sufficient if they imitate with their own strength what the Holy Spirit actually wants to give them. On the other hand, people strive to keep everything under control as much as possible. But in doing so, they want to follow a Master who during His life on earth did not know where He would sleep the next night (Mt. 8:20), and who was so dependent on His heavenly Father that He could not do anything on His own (Jn. 5:19). We both have experienced that the longer we live with Jesus, the less we are in control. The more we trust God, the more beautiful it becomes.