Rabbi Schneider - The Gift of Tongues
I've noticed in my own life that when I am up against a big burden, when I'm carrying something great, I will transition into my prayer language. And what's really interesting about this is that I started using my prayer language before I even knew there was such a thing. No one had ever taught me about it. I was not schooled in it and not read about it. But what I noticed was that as a very young pastor, when I became particularly burdened about something that was going on in the ministry, I would just begin to speak to God from the depths of my soul in a language that was not English. And this is called tongues, it's a personal prayer language. But before you get thrown off, let me share with you. I want to bring comfort and understanding if at all possible to everybody right now.
First of all, a lot of the teaching about tongues has been, in my view, incorrect. Tongues is multi-dimensional. There are many different types of tongues. For example, when we see in the book of Acts 2 that when the Holy Spirit first fell upon the church, those first 120 believers began to speak in tongues. We know the story. 120 believers were gathered together in Acts 2 in what's called the upper room. They're in the upper room, the day of Shavuot or Pentecost had come, which was the day that God revealed His glory to the children of Israel at Mount Sinai 1,500 years earlier. So it's just interesting showing the connection between the Brit Chadashah, the New Testament, and the Hebrew Bible. The same day the glory appeared on top of Mount Sinai 1,500 years earlier with Moses and the children of Israel to that same day.
Now the Spirit of the Lord appears in glory again as they're gathered in the upper room. So here they were in the upper room recalling how Father God, how the God of Israel had manifested Himself in fire on top of Mount Sinai 1,500 years earlier and wrote His law on the tablets of stone. As they're thinking about that in the upper room on Pentecost or Shavuot, suddenly, a tongue of fire comes upon each one of those 120 believers and then He fills them with the Spirit, and they begin to speak with tongues. But notice the tongues that they spoke in were known, not unknown, but known languages. They began to speak in languages that they had never learned. Why? Because there were people that were gathered in Jerusalem that spoke many different languages.
And the Lord wanted the gospel of Messiah Jesus to be proclaimed and heard by everyone that was there. In other words, He wanted the people that were there that didn't speak Hebrew and didn't speak Aramaic, He wanted them to be able to hear the gospel. So He gave those first 120 believers that had just been filled with the Spirit a supernatural gift to proclaim the gospel in a tongue that they had never learned. But the tongue that they spoke the gospel in was actually a real language.
Now, what's interesting is that many times people are using Acts 2 as a template for what should be everybody's experience. And so the teaching is-and I'm not trying to cross the sanction here-but the teaching is, is that the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues. And they use Acts 2 as their reference. But what happened in Acts 2 is not what is actually happening in the contemporary church. Because in the contemporary church, when someone says that they were baptized in the Holy Spirit and began to speak with the tongue, that tongue is not an Acts 2 tongue, because the tongue they're speaking in isn't a known language most of the time, but rather it's a prayer language.
And so there are several different types of tongues in the New Testament. There's a tongue that is a supernatural ability to speak in a language that you've never learned, number one. Number two, there's a tongue that is spoken about in the book of Corinthians that is an unknown language, it's a supernatural language that's to be used in a corporate gathering. And when that tongue is used in a corporate gathering, there needs to be an interpreter in the gathering to translate what was just spoken. That's the second use of tongues. But the type of tongues that I'm talking about is not either of those. It's not the tongues in Acts 2, which is a known language. It's not a tongue that someone stands up in a corporate worship services and begins to speak in a tongue, then somebody else stands up and interprets. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about something different.
I'm going to the book of 1 Corinthians 14. I'm reading in verse 4. Paul says this. "One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself..." So we're talking about something entirely different now. We're talking about a tongue that is for the benefit of the believer. You see, every other gift of the Holy Spirit is a gift for the body. But the gift of tongues to the personal prayer language is not for the body, but it's for the gift of the individual for the believer. So this is what Paul said. "One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself..." See, you edify yourself when you speak in a tongue. And then he goes on in verse 5, he says, "Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues..."
Why does Paul want everybody to speak in tongues? Because it's a gift that can edify you. And so I believe that the ability to have a prayer language is not the initial evidence necessarily of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. I don't believe you have to speak in a prayer language or in an unknown tongue to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Because I believe there are examples in scripture where someone was baptized in the Holy Spirit and they began to proclaim the gospel in their known language. But I do believe that the gift of tongues is a prayer language, is available to everybody. And a lot of times people feel like if you're able to do it at will, it must not be real.
See, this is what happened to me. As a young believer, I noticed that when I got under an extreme burden, I would just transition into my soul, into like this low gear, if you will. I used the illustration last time it's like in the old cars. If you were going up a steep hill, you could put the car in low one or low two, it would bring the transmission way down low to give you much power. That's what I noticed happened to me. If I was under a burden, I transitioned down deep into my soul, and I begin to speak in a tongue. [speaking in tongues]. It would just automatically happen. I was carrying a burden, I needed to connect with Father about this. I needed to connect with the Spirit about this burden. And subconsciously, without even choosing to do it, I just did it. I just went down into this low place in the Spirit and began to speak in a prayer language that no one ever taught me about. I didn't even know what it was.
I began to ask myself, is this what it means to speak in tongues? I wasn't sure. I thought it was. I didn't know what was going on. And then when I realized that I could do it at will anytime I wanted to, I thought, "Is this really real? I mean, if it was God, wouldn't it have to be Him starting it within you, and you'd only be able to do it when he was bubbling up from within you? But you can do it anytime you want to," I said to myself. "How do you know if this is God or not"? And so I began to lose confidence. I thought, "Maybe this isn't God. Maybe this isn't really tongues". And then as time went on, beloved, I came to the deep conviction. And now I feel like I know, no, this is my prayer language. I can use it anytime I want to. And I find that when I'm really burned about something, I go into my stronghold oftentimes, which often is this place of using my prayer language.
So I want to encourage you today. Be open. Be open to this. If you just hear something in you, if you've never done this before, just begin to speak out what you hear. And don't question it. Don't say this isn't really real. Just go with it. Just begin to... I don't want to say practice it, because that sounds like you're performing. But what I want you to do is get you in the habit of using it. Because the Holy Spirit makes groanings, the Scripture says, within us that are too deep for words. And that's what this prayer language is. It's the burden of the Holy Spirit in you. It's the burden of your soul being released by the Holy Spirit in the Spirit so that you could connect with God in a very deep and real way.