Can Anyone Speak in Tongues? ~ Precious C Philip
Can anyone who profess to be a Christian really speak in tongues?
Many years back, while I was in Secondary School in Nigeria and a religious church girl, something happened in my local church that I consider to be extremely funny in retrospect.
In my local church then, you have to qualify to be baptized in water. What do I mean? You are not taken to undergo water baptism just because you have confessed Jesus as your Lord and have repented of your sins, No! You must meet certain requirements to qualify for water baptism. You are expected to read a certain book put together by the church that explains the meaning of water baptism, salvation and other tenets of christianity; and you must finish the book before you can be baptized.
Another criteria is that you must be baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues before you can qualify for water baptism. So I wanted to undergo water baptism (because some of my friends in church had done it and I was yet to; I also wanted to fulfill all righteousness), this was before my travel abroad. I was not yet saved and I didn't know that you have to be genuinely born again before you can speak in tongues and for your water baptism to have significance before God.
So I went to my then pastor and told him I'd love to join the next set of people to be baptized in water and he said ok. He asked me some questions and if I had given my life to Jesus and I said yes (to me then, responding to altar calls to give your life to Jesus means you are saved - and I had responded to such calls countless number of times, so I thought I was born again). He gave me the church book to read. He also gave me a deadline to finish reading the book which was also given to others that were scheduled to have the water baptism.
I went home with the book and read as much as I could. I didn't finish reading the book before the deadline (I was really not understanding what I was reading and I didn't find the book interesting too) and that disqualified me from continuing with the water baptism, and I was told I would join another set when I was done reading the book.
Now something else happened. During the course of reading the book, we were told to come to church one particular day for Holy Ghost baptism to speak in tongues. We were told to fast.
I fasted and went for the Holy Ghost meeting. I wanted the gift of speaking in tongues because I envied those who spoke in tongues and felt it was a sign of spiritual maturity. I also felt if you can speak in tongues as a Christian, you'll be given a high level of respect because people would consider you to be very spiritual and holy, and even closer to God. These were the reasons I wanted to speak in tongues (they're not only wrong reasons to desire the gift of speaking in tongues, they're also wrong beliefs).
I got to church and we started with worship and then progressed to prayers and Holy Ghost impartation. I was in this meeting but I could not really connect with the prayers and everything that was happening; I was literally forcing myself to participate in the prayers and flow, and I didn't understand why it was so until after I became genuinely born again years after. As the prayers grew in intensity, almost everyone in the meeting got baptized in the Holy Ghost and began speaking in tongues. But I didn't. Hands were laid on some and they fell under the anointing of the Holy Spirit and blasted out in tongues.
I would open my eyes slowly to view what was going on and then immediately shut it so as not to be noticed by anyone. I became worried seeing that nothing was happening to me and wondered why God has failed to touch me too. I wondered if it was because I still engaged in sinful practices secretly and because I was a hypocrite (a saint in church but a sinner in school and in my neighborhood - my dressing especially betrayed my professed faith in Jesus.)
All these were flashing back and forth in my mind and I felt very bad thinking God was partial and He didn't love me. Suddenly, hands were laid on me and it took a while before I finally laid on the floor because honestly, I still was not feeling anything powerful and out of the ordinary. I would say that I was just acting because I didn't want people to look at me and say she did not fall under the anointing and she didn't speak in tongues; that would give people the impression that I was a sinner and that was why I did not receive the gift of speaking in tongues, so I thought.
While I was on the floor, I was hearing, "Open your mouth and the Holy Spirit will speak through you." I literally opened my mouth but nothing came out. I kept hearing the statement again and again, so I decided to start saying my own thing since everyone was speaking in tongues. I was mumbling words and copying what others were saying and the tongues I've heard people speak before in church. After the prayer, the pastor called me alone and asked if I received the gift of tongues, I didn't know what to say, but I later summoned courage and told him I didn't. He encouraged me and said I should finish reading the book and I'd join another Holy Ghost impartation meeting. I said ok and went home very disappointed and dissatisfied.
I got home and I was really depressed by that incident and strongly felt God did not love me neither did He know I exist. I don't think I read the church book again. And I never had the water baptism till I travelled abroad.
Fast forward to June 9, 2012, I got genuinely born again. And then I began to desire the gift of speaking in tongues. I listened to many messages and teachings on the importance and the advantages of speaking in tongues: You pray aright. The Holy Spirit prays through you. The devil does not understand the language so he doesn't know what you're praying about. Speaking in tongues edifies you. It aids your spiritual growth. It empowers and energizes your spirit man. You hear easily from God because your spiritual antenna is functioning well. It empowers you to live holy and walk in the Spirit. It enables you to pray for a long time. It destroys the evil plan of the devil against your life - rendering the devil and his cohorts powerless over you. All these increased my thirst and hunger for Holy Ghost baptism.
One day, I joined the Holy Ghost impartation service organized by Living Faith Church online because it was the church I attended the early days of my salvation. I was desperate for the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues and passionately asked the Holy Spirit for it, and this was the day I received the gift of speaking in tongues and I've been enjoying the benefits of this precious gift till date.
Therefore, the point is: not every professing Christian can speak in tongues. Only genuinely born again Christians can receive the gift of speaking in tongues - some the instance they embrace true repentance and put their faith in Jesus - others when they thirst and hunger for it and ask the Holy Spirit to baptize them with the gift like in my own case.
The gift of speaking in tongues is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit who lives in every born again Christian. And 1 Corinthians 12:31 says we should covet earnestly the best gifts. So, if you're born again and you want the gift of speaking in tongues, thirst for it, desire it passionately and ask the Holy Spirit to endow you with it, and He will grant your request if you're serious, earnest, desperate, and persistent with your request. But you must also live a consecrated and sanctified life. If you're born again but still living in sin, the Holy Spirit may not grant your request until you clean up, repent of sinful living and sanctify yourself.
"And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;" Mark 16:17
If you believe in Jesus and you're born again, speaking in new tongues is part of your redemptive package. Take it today by earnestly asking for it. If however, you desire the gift but you're not born again, you have to genuinely surrender your life to Jesus and repent of sinful living then you can qualify to have the gift.
God bless you. Expect next week's article.