[Exclusive] Building a House of Prayer, Tongues Prayer

Building a House of Prayer

Eighteen Prayer Models for Approaching God’s Throne

Author | Dr. Joshua Young-Gi Hong

<Tongues Prayer>

“A prayer is to reach God’s heart.”—Taylor

Tongues Prayer is a prayer in God-given spiritual language. Tongues are a spiritual language of God’s kingdom with which the Holy Spirit speaks through our lips. Tongues Prayer is a gift from God that multiplies the power of the prayer. Through the Tongues Prayer, you can enter the world of a prayer deeply.

The Holy Place of Prayer

We have to receive the gift of speaking in tongues in order to offer a Tongues Prayer. This is a gift of the Holy Spirit to develop our praying life, which is awakened by the Holy Spirit. As a cradle member of Yoido Full Gospel Church, I received the gift of speaking in tongue when I was a fifth grader in elementary school. One day, my mother asked me to pray together. So, I began to pray in my parents’ room with our hands held together. My mother laid her hands on me and prayed in tears.

Then, all of a sudden, I began to remember all the sins that I had committed one by one. I realized how sinful I was. I began to repent of sins, and tears began to flow down my cheeks. When I was repenting and praying, a strange language began to come out of my lips. I was a little bit perplexed, but my heart was filled with joy. My body was hot, and I felt something of God’s powerful imminence. My mother told me I received a language of heaven and prayed in tongues while holding me.

After receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit that day, everything looked so beautiful. Even the murky clouds in the sky looked different and wonderful. Afterwards, I began to experience God’s grace and imminence through my Tongues Prayer.

The Holy Place of Prayer 1

Speaking in Tongue Is a Gift from God

Glossolalia, the theological word for speaking in tongues, refers to the fact that it is a language of prayer. Speaking in tongues is a wonderful present from God for a close fellowship with Him. Glossolalia is a prayer of the Holy Spirit through our spirit. We can find several positive statements on glossolalia.

In Acts 2:1-4, the Bible tells how the original Christians were first filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost—“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

In 1 Corinthians 12:28, God has appointed several groups of people, and one of them was those speaking in different kinds of tongues—“And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues [for giving message in tongues with interpretation to the Christian groups or services].” Additionally, it is written in 1 Corinthians 12:10, the Holy Spirit gave the gift of speaking in different kinds of tongues to some people as He determines—“To another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.” Through these biblical verses, we can see that speaking in tongues is what God intended for us as the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Nevertheless, there are some biblical verses in the 1 Corinthians that appear to be contradictory. First Corinthians 14:5 says, “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues.” Then, 1 Corinthians 12:30 asks, “Do all speak in tongues?” These two verses seem to have a contradictory implication, but both are truthful. The words in verse 12:30 refer to a spiritual gift that is spoken publicly along with an interpretation in front of congregation. On the contrary, the words in verse 14:5 refer to speaking in tongues for a personal fellowship with the Lord. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:18, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.” He was enjoying the benefit of having a deep fellowship with God through speaking in tongues.

The Apostle Paul points out that, because speaking in tongues is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, it must be exercised with love and order when it is used publicly. The Apostle Paul is emphasizing that a gift like speaking in tongues must be used in the church to serve God and to edify the church. Thus, it is better for a saint of the church who is graced with speaking in tongues to seek the gift of interpreting the tongues as well.

The Holy Place of Prayer 2

Is Speaking in Tongues a Symbol of Spiritual Maturity?

Speaking in tongues is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is not a sign of spiritual maturity. If we are boastful of spiritual excellence, we cause division in the church and create problems in the fellowship among the saints. When I was in college, a senior member in my Christian club desperately wanted to receive the gift of tongues. He was very disappointed that he did not receive the gift after fervent prayer. Then, one day, when he was praying, he experienced a passionate work of the Holy Spirit in him, and he received the gift of tongues. After this experience, he served the church more diligently and grew more faithful.

Then, a problem surfaced. In time, he grew arrogant because he could speak in tongues. He became judgmental of those who could not speak in tongues believing that they were inferior to him spiritually. This attitude created problems in the club. I explained to him, quoting the Bible, that speaking in tongues does not signify spiritual maturity. As time went on, he realized this spiritual truth and gradually began to change.

Such abuse of spiritual gifts is not limited to speaking in tongues. Those, who receive the gifts of healing and prophecy also can feel spiritual superiority. Because the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given as an instrument to the health and edification of the church community, they must not be regarded as fruits of one’s spirituality. If you can pray in tongues, you should not be boastful. By exercising praying in tongues, we should show the spiritual maturity of serving the Lord.

The Holy Place of Prayer 3

Entering Deeply into the World of Prayer

A prayer is the breath of saints of the Church. A prayer is the alpha and omega of our daily life. Billy Graham said, “A prayer is the key to open the morning and the lock to close the night.” This implies that we cannot keep our spiritual life intact and wholesome without a prayer. However, it is difficult to pray on our own effort. Oftentimes, I found it hard to pray for ten minutes in Korean. In that case, a Tongues Prayer can be a very effective tool to transfer us to the wonderful world of prayer.

Prayer in tongues replaces ordinary prayers when our words and thoughts seem depleted. It gives us strength to swim easily on the spiritual sea. Speaking in tongues edifies us. The Apostle Paul says, “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself [builds himself up]” (1 Corinthians 14:4). It edifies our spirit above all, meaning, that we will be spiritually stronger and that we will be filled with God’s grace. The Bible says, “For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God” (1 Corinthians 14:2). One who speaks in tongues “utters mysteries with his spirit” (1 Corinthians 14:2); and “If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays” (1 Corinthians 14:14).

This is to pray to God by the Holy Spirit in a way that no human can understand. Because our body is immersed in the Holy Spirit, it can be more spiritual than the prayer given by our mind. Tongues Prayer renews the spirit. It provides vitality and power to our spirit through the Holy Spirit. Additionally, speaking in tongues reveals our heart to God in spirit. When we reveal our heart to God, the Holy Spirit will come upon our heart. “O, Lord, come upon me. Halleluiah! Halleluiah! I praise the Lord.”

The Holy Place of Prayer 5

Blessing of Speaking in Tongues

Sung-Hoon Myung (a former president of Institute for Church Growth) spoke the following in regard to the benefits and blessing of speaking in tongues: “If you give a Tongues Prayer, the gift and power of the Holy Spirit is vitalized. The more this Holy Spirit-inspired prayer ministry is supported, the more powerful the ministry can be.”

Tongues Prayers also help and build up intercessory prayers. The Apostle Paul said a Tongues Prayer is to pray with the spirit (1 Corinthians 14:14). When we pray for others in tongues, then we can pray for things that we did not even know about. Additionally, if we offer a Tongues Prayer, Jesus is glorified. The focus of the prayer is Jesus Christ, and speaking in tongues can be a sign of glorifying Jesus to those unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:22). Tongues Prayers also strengthen our faith. If we pray in tongues deeply, a courageous faith springs in us. Lastly, Tongues Prayers can be the opportunity to be guided by God. Tongues Prayers to a congregation need an interpretation, and a proclamation of God’s will happens.

Tongues Prayer has many benefits as mentioned above. In fact, the benefits of Tongues Prayers can only be appreciated by people who have experienced them. For example, if you offer a Tongues Prayer in times of hardship, you can be consoled by the Holy Spirit. This happened to my family while I was in England for doctoral study in theology. I was studying at school when my wife called me and said in a very anxious and tearful tone, “Sweetheart, our house is on fire! Hurry up and come home!”

I was shocked to hear of such a disaster and drove home as fast as I could. I was thinking and praying on the way home, “How can I put out the fire? Should I use the blankets?” Then, when I arrived at home, firefighters already had arrived, and the fire was almost contained. Houses in England are usually two-stories. The upper floor is usually used for bedrooms and the lower floor has a living room, dining room, and a kitchen. Our family rented this house on a monthly basis from an English man. The bedrooms in the upper floor of our house already had been burned, and the firemen were busy putting out the fire so that it would not spread to the next house.

Later, I found out my wife was in the kitchen on the first floor, and my children (Jin-Hyuk and Ye-Jin) were in the small bedroom upstairs. Jin-Hyuk used something as a steppingstone to search through the drawers to find a match. I surmise young Jin-Hyuk was thinking of singing “Happy Birthday to You” in front of the candle lights on the birthday cake. When he saw the match, he could have wanted to light it to have an imaginary birthday party. So, Jin-Hyuk lighted it without thinking of the consequences. The bed caught fire, and the flame soon spread. The children were afraid of being scolded and did not dare to come down to tell their mommy. When it got too hot, they came downstairs. But then it was too late.

That night when our house was burned to ashes, we slept in an Englishman’s house. Overwhelmed with resentment and desolation, my wife and I could not sleep. “How could this kind of thing happen to me, when I only came to study theology? I have lost everything.” My wife and I were so miserable that we were engulfed in despair and fear for the future. However, I started to pray in tongues. When I kept praying in tongues, the Lord told me words of consolation and encouragement, “My Son, do not be afraid. I am with you. Your life is in my hands. So, don’t worry, and trust and believe me.”

If I thought of this incident on a personal level, I cannot help but feel sadness and despair. However, when I started praying in tongues, God’s consolation began to get a grip on me. I was strengthened spiritually through the Tongues Prayer.

There were also other times of emotional difficulty, but we could overcome all hardships through prayer. We experienced so many unexpected helping hands of love, and my family and I could stand on our feet again. We stayed at Tom Houston’s house for a while. My encounter with him greatly influenced my life. He served as the commissioner of the English Bible Committee, the president of International Lausanne Movement, and the president of World Mission unblemished and faithfully. He possessed an excellent spirit, character, and leadership skills.

He became my mentor, and we still keep in contact for fellowship. The fire incident took all our possessions away, but we gained an invisible faith. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). When I was faced with hardships, Tongues Prayers were a great help in that they made me stand strong spiritually in new grace and courage. Likewise, Tongues Prayers provide the courage and strength to withstand problems and tribulations in terms of spirituality.

The Holy Place of Prayer 5

Receiving a Prayer Language from Heaven

To receive the gift of tongues, we have to repent completely of our sins and long for the gift in holiness. The author has never seen a case in which the gift was given to a person who did not repent. Because the Holy Spirit is a Holy God, our repentance brings Him into our holy heart. Because speaking in tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit, it is given by will of the Holy Spirit when we long for the gift. The Holy Spirit can bestow His Grace to those who long for the gift. The author saw many cases where the gift was given to those who longed for it sincerely and requested it earnestly. Because the purpose of praying to receive the gift of speaking in tongues is not to fulfill one’s selfish desire but to seek a deeper and closer fellowship with the Lord, the Lord will answer such a prayer. We cannot say speaking in tongues is the only sign of the baptism in the Holy Spirit; yet it is an important sign. Some say it is the initial, physical evidence.

Checkpoint of Prayer

As mentioned above, we should refrain from being confused into thinking that having the ability to pray in tongues makes us spiritually superior. And, the gift of tongues is a gift that becomes more powerful as we use it more often. There are many people around me who have received the gift of speaking in tongues but still pray with a very weak spirituality because they do not use it often. If you can speak in tongues, you have to use the gift more persistently. When we come near God through Tongues Prayer, God will come near to us (James 4:8). Speaking in tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit for us to come closer to God. The tongue is one of the most important organs in our body. The theological implication of speaking in tongues is to let go of ourselves so that the Holy Spirit will take over our life. If you pray in tongues diligently without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it is a misuse of the gift of speaking in tongues.

Sweet Rain of Grace

If you pray in tongues, it is not hard to pray. It is difficult to pray for twenty to thirty minutes even in Korean. However, if you pray in tongues, it is not hard to pray even for an hour. We can pray for a long time with Tongues Prayers. Being able to pray for long periods of time signifies blessings from God and spiritual fellowship with Him. Meeting the almighty God of love in a deep fellowship must be the most amazing blessing in the world.

Praying Time

If you pray in tongues, you can easily pray for an hour in one spot. A Tongues Prayer can be used together with other prayers. Have a prayer topic and then pray in tongues, then praise God as you pray in tongues.

Closed Prayer Room

  • Tongues Prayer is a prayer of God-given spiritual language.
  • Example of a Tongues Prayer
    >> O, the Holy Spirit, please take hold of my tongue and lips to pray by your will.
  • My Tongues Prayer:
  • The Order of a Tongues Prayer
    >> Praise (Hymn or Chorus)
    >> Confession of a Thanksgiving
    >> Reading a prepared Tongue Prayer
    >> Carrying out the Tongue Prayer
  • Self-illumination
    >> Am I using the God-given Tongues Prayer as much as I should?
    >> Do I feel superiority for being able to offer a Tongues Prayer?
    >> Am I entering deeply into the world of prayer through a Tongues Prayer?
    >> Am I living the life of walking with God and the Holy Spirit, who has given me the gift of praying in tongues?

One Last Word on Tongue Prayer

If you pray in tongues diligently without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it is a misuse of the gift of speaking in tongues.


  1. I am blessed by such pwerful teaching.Thank you Lord Jesus

  2. Thank you for your reading…I hope that you will be a prayer warrier for God’s Kingdom~

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