Speaking in Tongues

What is the meaning when people speak in tongues?
Does Jesus hear these people over all others?
Or do people speak in tongues to have only a seleted few understand what they say, one being Jesus?

Good question!

Let’s do a bit of background:
Jesus said that speaking in tongues would be a sign which would “accompany those who believe”. (Mark 16 17)

Tongues is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is available to all believers, and is useful in the ministries of the church, (1 Corinthians 12 verses 10, 28) though Paul implies that not every Christian will speak in tongues in v 29.

Tongues will cease at the same time that prophecies and gifts of knowledge cease, in other words right at the end of this world. (1 Cor 13 8)

Speaking in tongues is a lesser gift than prophecy, UNLESS the tongue is interpreted, so people understand what has been said. (1 Cor 14 5)

Paul was a great speaker in tongues (1 Cor 14 18)

Speaking in tongues must not be forbidden in the church (1 Cor 14 39)
And they are to be part of ordinary church worship. (1 Cor 14 26)

Now on to your questions:

Speaking in tongues was part of the disciples’ experience when the Holy Spirit fell on them at Pentecost (Acts 2 4) and the crowd who heard them said they were “declaring the wonders of God”. (Acts 2 11)

Cornelius’s household in Acts 10 were heard to be “speaking in tongues and praising God”. (v 46)

And in Acts 19 the new believers spoke in tongues and prophesied. (v6)

Paul says that when we speak in tongues we are speaking to God (1 Cor 14 2) and this builds us up as Christians. (1 Cor 14 4)

He says that when you speak in tongues your spirit is praying. (1 Cor 14 14)

This can be useful, because sometimes you won’t have the words in your mind to say to God what you need, so you can let your spirit pray. (Rom 8 26)

But you won’t know what the meaning is unless you INTERPRET the tongue. (1 Cor 14 13)

So what can we learn from all that?
We can see that tongues were used in the context of praising God, and the person using them is speaking to God.

We won’t know what we have said unless we pray to interpret them. Sometimes others who have the Gift of Interpretation will understand what we have said, and may then tell out the meaning of the tongue.

Jesus certainly hears what we say in tongues! And, of course, He also knows what we mean! But there is no favouritism with Jesus, he doesn’t hear tongues first before other prayers, he hears the whole lot at once! We don’t even have to queue up!

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