Praying in Tongues

There is only one Scripture passage that talks about praying in tongues. For being such a supposedly important gift, it is described as being unfruitful! It has no fruit –of no benefit! What more needs to be said? Yet it continues to be elevated and flaunted by so many Christians.

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified. (1 Corinthians 14:14-17)

If a person is praying in a language that is foreign, then the prayer is not edifying the body of Christ but rather the one praying. And the only one who could possibly understand what is being said (in that foreign language) is God. The prayer doesn’t even help to renew the person’s own mind. Remember, God has chosen to use tongues as a sign to unbelievers (specifically Jews), not to the body of Christ.

For some reason “the tongues of angels” usually accompanies this topic. If there are languages of angels, then angels use them to communicate with each other. It’s the same for the languages of men; they are used for communicating with men. In both cases those languages have real meaning to the hearer and also to the speaker –they are not just gibberish.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1)

Did you notice that the emphasis in this passage? It is the single passage mentioning the tongues of angels. And the emphasis is not on speaking in tongues and not on angels. It’s on communicating God’s love through life’s circumstances rather than through our many –often empty– spoken words.