Many years ago, the Holy Spirit stirred within me the desire for one of God's spiritual gifts. I had this overwhelming desire to speak and pray in tongues. The feeling came on gradually, but over time it became a burning passion, an all-consuming idea that filled my thoughts and prayers.
While I prayed for it, the Lord undid a lot of unbelief and wrong-thinking I had regarding the gift of tongues. Instead, He replaced my doubts with His Truth. But the most interesting thing was that the Holy Spirit stirred my heart to desire this gift, He stirred my heart to burn for it, and then later opened my heart and mind to receive it.
If you happen to be someone who believes that they aren't close with God because you don't know the Bible the way some people do, don't let that be your belief. Because the Word says, "For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children." (Romans 8:16)
What does it mean to be God's children? It means that we are taught by Him, He speaks to us like a Father, He lavishes us with His good gifts, He encourages us and loves us, and He witnesses to us through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit in us teaches us things that are within the Bible, even if we don't know it's in the Word. So be led by the Spirit! You can't go wrong.
I want to share with you the scripture that aligned precisely with what I felt during the time I was praying for this good gift. (If you want to read the entire experience, check out Receiving The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit)
I pray this gives you the encouragement to keep praying for things God has put on your heart, to search the scriptures for the truth within, and the courage to pray bold prayers that might scare you a bit.
Praying For The Gift Of Tongues
In my article Receiving The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit, I shared what led me to start praying for this gift. I had this yearning in my spirit for more; more intimacy with God, more power from God, more depth and strength. I didn't know if praying in tongues was the thing that would answer that prayer, but it was the thing the Holy Spirit prompted me to ask for. (BTW, it did exactly what I hoped for - gave me intimacy with the Lord in a way I can't describe. I wish as Paul did, that all believers everywhere spoke in tongues).
I struggled with this prayer for 2 years. I studied the scriptures that mentioned praying in tongues, and I noticed that Paul regarded it as highly valuable. If Paul thought it was a gift worth having, then there must be something about it!
Toward the end of my years of praying I no longer had reservations about receiving the gift of tongues. Instead I had this zeal, a burning passion, for the Lord to answer my prayer. I needed God to hear me and answer me!
I can't quite put it in words, but it was like my spirit burned for the Lord to give me this gift. When He did, when the Holy Spirit came on me like the early church received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, I knew my prayer had been answered. My tongue was loosened, and I began to speak and pray in tongues.
And then the attacks came from the devil. I had so many demonic attacks during those first few months of praying in tongues that I almost gave up. I started believing that I must be doing something wrong for the devil to attack me so strongly.
But the Lord ensured that I heard a message during these months that strengthened me. This pastor said, "if the devil is attacking you because of something you are doing, keep doing it! He fears what you carry. If Satan is attacking you, it's because there is a purpose in what you are doing, there is kingdom impact in what you have in your hands. Don't stop just because Satan hates you. It should be a sign all the more to keep going."
I held on to those words and I persevered through the attacks. Eventually they stopped, because the Bible promises us that if we resist the devil, he will flee from us. (James 4:7) The word resist is the Greek anthistēmi, which means to set one's self against, to withstand, resist, oppose. We must set ourselves against the enemy's attacks, and over time they will end.
I learned several things from this experience, that if we persist in our prayers, eventually God will answer. And if we let go of our expectation as to how He should answer us, He will answer our prayers in some really big and spectacular ways.
But I also learned that if we persevere through the demonic attacks against us, that we will be strengthened by the Lord through it, and the devil will flee. It's hard to keep going when we are under fire, but it's important that we learn how to keep going, to keep fighting. We have to keep running the race of faith, and that means sometimes we will run through enemy territory with a target on our backs. But if we keep running we will move into promised lands, lands flowing with milk and honey.
Keep running! Your promise is coming!
Coveting God's Greater Gifts
A few years ago I was studied the gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12.
"Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way." 1 Corinthians 12:29-31
As I read these verses, the words earnestly desire jumped out at me, and I looked it up. The words earnestly desire is one Greek word, zēloō. Zēloō means to burn with zeal, to be heated or to boil with envy, hatred, anger (or in the good sense) to be zealous in the pursuit of good. It can be translated: to have warmth of feeling for or against; (covet) earnestly, pursue, to strive after, busy one's self about him, to be zealously sought after, to envy, be jealous over.
It's one of the only places you'll find in the Bible where the word covet is used in a positive sense. It's used again in chapter 14:1 "Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy." And again in 14:39 "Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues."
Paul spoke many times about desiring spiritual gifts, especially that of prophesy. Because as he said, prophesy edifies the whole church, but speaking and praying in tongues edifies only the person doing it. Yet, he said that he wished all people spoke in tongues, as they will be personally edified. (1 Corinthians 14:1-5)
The word edified is oikodomeō, which means to be a house-builder, construct, confirm, build up, (be in) building, edify, embolden.
When we pray in tongues, we become like the one who is built on the firm foundation of God, "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock." We are built up internally, established firmly, like the ones whose lives are built upon the rock.
I love how https://www.blueletterbible.org/ translates oikodomeō: to restore by building, to rebuild, repair; to promote growth in Christian wisdom, affection, grace, virtue, holiness, blessedness. Wow!
There have been times in my walk with the Lord that I have fallen into despair, felt the depths of depression or anxiousness, and when I cry out to the Lord He says to me, "Go pray yourself into peace."
Oikodomeō is a verb. Praying in tongues is a verb. It's an action, it's a call to us to do something. We can't open our mouths and do nothing. We have to open our mouths and pray, we have to participate.
In order to be filled with the Holy Spirit we have to align with the things of the Spirit, and one of those things is praying in tongues.
Praying in tongues aligns us with the heavenly realm, and it builds us up on the inside. As Blue Letter Bible comments, it repairs us and promotes growth. If we are anxious, we need to be repaired! If we are in despair, we need to be repaired! Praying in tongues is the Lord's restoration in our bodies, hearts and minds. It fixes that which is broken. It takes our houses of sand, and replaces it with a foundation of rock.
Is There A Gift You Zealously Want?
The first gift the Holy Spirit put a burning passion in me to have was the gift of tongues. But after that gift came and I began to use it, I started burning for other gifts. I desired wisdom, knowledge from the Lord, for the gift of prophecy, for the gifts of dreams and visions. The more I desired, the more I prayed.
Zēloō is a feeling that requires action. If you have a passion to have one of the spiritual gifts from the Lord, then learn to covet this gift and to pray for it. Turn it into a positive action by zealously praying that God would give you this gift. Pray and ask, ask and pray until the Lord answers you.
There are some wonderful men and women of God who have gifts that I desire to have. When I hear their testimonies or see how they hear from the Lord in a special way, I begin to pray to have these gifts also. And the Lord has answered many of my prayers in really special ways. He has spoken to me personally and encouraged me. He leaves me in awe on a daily basis. And I can't thank Him enough for every answered prayer and gift He has graciously given.
Is there a spiritual gift that you wish God would give you? Is there something that you've read in His Word, a promise that speaks to your heart and you think "I want this Father!" If so, then cry out to the Lord for it. Come to Him with that burning feeling, with that zeal to possess something. And keep praying until you hear from Him.
Remember, some prayers take time. I prayed for 2 years to have the gift of speaking in tongues. I prayed for 9 years that the Lord would establish us in the land He promised to us.
Joseph had to wait 13 years from the time of his dream until the time the Lord promoted him in Egypt. And then he waited another 9 years from the time of his promotion until the day his dream came to pass and his brothers knelt as his feet.
The things of the Lord take time. We have a tendency to rush ahead and want what we want when we want it. It is those who wait upon the Lord who will be lifted up. The ones who don't wait, will never get lifted. So, don't be discouraged if your dream takes time to mature. Instead, keep waiting on the Lord, and you will see His goodness.
Write down your prayer, the one that consumes you. Write it down and stick it in a place where you will be reminded to pray for it often. For it is those who diligently seek the Lord, who ask and keep asking, who the door is opened to.
Be the one who keeps seeking, keeps asking, keeps waiting in the Lord's presence. He always rewards those who stay at His feet.