1 Corinthians 14:2, “For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.”

One of the most overlooked kinds of prayer in American Christianity is the “prayer of tongues.” The Greek word for tongue means, “language.” The Bible teaches that God can supernaturally give His disciples the ability to speak in a language (tongue) they haven’t learned and to utter mysteries by the Spirit. Luke recorded this phenomenon first happening in Acts 2:1-3, “1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

In Acts 2, the crowd could understand the disciple’s languages, because even though the languages they spoke were unlearned by them, they were known to the people (Acts 2:6). However, in today’s passage, Paul is describing an expression of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in which the disciple prays in unlearned languages that, “no one understands.”

God can use people to speak in unlearned tongues to others like on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:6) and He can have His disciples pray in tongues (that no person understands) so they can speak directly to Him and utter mysteries (1 Corinthians 14:2).

Paul further described the prayer of tongues in 1 Corinthians 14:15, “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.” He makes the distinction between praying and singing with your “understanding” and your “spirit.” Every Spirit-baptized disciple has the privilege to pray in unlearned languages, because the Holy Spirit will give them new languages to express their spirit and declare God’s mysteries. Also, Jude wrote in his letter that when someone prays in the Spirit (“tongues”) they are building up their “most holy faith” (Jude 1:20).

Sadly, there has been disagreement concerning this kind of prayer in the church, however, the truth still remains that it’s both commanded and beneficial for all disciples (Acts 2:38). The great Pentecostal pioneer Lester Sumrall wrote, “Tongues is the most misunderstood of all the spiritual gifts. There is no gift in the entire world that receives so explosive a reaction as the gift of tongues. Because the devil is afraid of it, he gets everybody fighting over it. If tongues did not cause him trouble, he would ignore it, but speaking in tongues is dynamic. It will change a person’s life, so Satan fights it with every force he can muster.”

Don’t be afraid of this kind of prayer or ignore it; believe what God’s Word teaches and use it consistently, just like Paul and the first disciples did (1 Corinthians 14:18). Make time everyday to pray with your mind (“learned languages”) and with your spirit in tongues (“unlearned languages”).


Have you been baptized with the Holy Spirit, evidenced by praying in tongues?


  1. Ask God to baptize you in the Holy Spirit (if you haven’t already) and begin praying in unlearned languages. Remove all doubts and false teachings, because everyone is commanded to receive this gift (Acts 2:38).
  2. Pray in tongues on a daily basis.
  3. Teach others the truth about praying in tongues.

One Year Reading Plan

Numbers 15:17-16:40, Mark 15:1-47, Psalm 54:1-7, & Proverbs 11:5-6. Click here to read online.