Summary: When we pray in public, we should not be concerned with tongues. We should be concerned with clearly making our requests to God. In public, we should pray in a language everyone understands.


“So what shall I do? I shall pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind...” 1 Corinthians 14:15.

A breakdown in communications can be frustrating.

A man trying to move a sofa by himself got it stuck in the door, so he called a friend for help. They pushed, pulled, and struggled until both were exhausted. The man finally said, “It’s no use. We’re never going to get it in.”

His confused friend responded, “In?...” []

Sometimes a breakdown in communications can be entertaining. My favorite Burns and Allen routine was the time when George was lecturing Gracie about carelessness. Gracie remembered one of her relatives who accidently parked in a red zone. George said, “That was very careless.”

Gracie responded, “Yes, it really was.”

“He should not have parked in a red zone.”

“He knows that now.”

“I bet he got a ticket for it, didn’t he?”

“We don’t know... The Russians won’t let him write to us.”

Not the kind of red zone George thought, was it? They were using the same words with very different meanings. Even speaking the same language, a breakdown in communications can occur. It is even easier when you speak different languages.

A new missionary in Venezuela was struggling with the language. He often did not understand what was going on. He even struggled reading street signs, so he got lost on his way to visit a local church. He arrived late. The church was packed and the only empty seat was on the front row.

He did not want to look as out of place as he felt, so he copied everything the man beside him did. When the man stood to sing, he stood. When the man sat down, he sat down. When the man clapped, he clapped.

The missionary understood nearly none of the sermon. When the man beside him stood for the invitation, the missionary stood. When he sat down for the announcements, the missionary sat down. When the man stood for the closing prayer, the missionary stood.

Suddenly, there were gasps and whispers all over the congregation. The man beside him glared angrily. The missionary looked back and realized no one else was standing. Apparently, this was not the closing prayer.

As he left, no one greeted him. The preacher, who stood by the door shaking hands, spoke in English to say, “You do not understand Spanish, do you?”

“Not much. Is it that obvious?”

“Yeesss... The last announcement was that the Acosta family had a newborn baby boy... I then asked the proud father to stand...” []

A breakdown in communication may only be funny later. At the time, it may stir hard feelings, gossip, and broken fellowship. That was a problem in Corinth.

Kyle preached Sunday night about spiritual gifts and mentioned a recent enthusiasm for what has typically been called, “Pentecostalism” or, more recently, “the charismatic movement.” Not so much in the U.S., but world-wide, Pentecostalism is growing faster than Evangelicalism or Catholicism.

As I recall, in the U.S. it was a much more enthusiastic topic, more of a hot issue in the late 60’s to late 70’s. Today, non-Pentecostal churches have more of a “take it or leave it but we aren’t going to emphasize it” attitude. In the 70’s, some churches were energized by the charismatic movement, some were torn apart by it, and some were strengthened by resisting it and emphasizing sound doctrine.

If I understand correctly, just after the turn of the twentieth century it may have been an even bigger controversy. I also have the impression that it flared up some in the 30s or 40s.

At any rate, even if it is not now an issue for First Baptist, Everman, it is an issue in the Christian world and it may become an issue for us sooner than we think.

It seems that two of the extreme positions are the two most common today.

An extreme Pentecostal position is that tongues are a sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. As was the case in the 60’s and 70’s, some will say you can’t be sure you are saved if you have never spoken in tongues.

Some (quite a few in the 60’s and 70’s) carry it farther. If you have never spoken in tongues, you can know that you are not saved. They will ask, “Do you have to speak in tongues to be saved?” They will then say, “The disciples and the 3000 did in Acts 2. Cornelius’ household did in Acts 10. The Corinthians did in Acts 19. Not every account of salvation mentions speaking in tongues, but there is no account of salvation that says they did not speak in tongues.”

An extreme non-Pentecostal position is that tongues were only for the first century and they have ceased as a valid gift. They point to 1 Corinthians 13:8, 10, saying, “The Bible tells us that tongues will cease, that when the perfect is come the imperfect will no longer be needed.”

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