1 Thessalonians 5:17
Today I want to share my experience of receiving a prayer language and why I now question it being from God. I grew up in a church that didn't believe certain gifts of the Holy Spirit had continued. We were called cessationists. I only remember hearing about tongues a few times, and it was always in the context of it being satanic. Even when I started to question why my church taught certain gifts had ceased such as prophecy and healing, it was because I had a wrong idea of what it meant for gifts to cease. I was also taught God didn't speak to us outside of the Bible, and the Bible was all that was needed. This was another thing I questioned. But tongues I never questioned. I wanted nothing to do with them. (Photo by Robert Koorenny on Unsplash)
Fast forward twenty-five or so years. I had just returned from my first missions trip. I had gone as a youth leader because it was the only missions trip taken in the summer and I didn't want to take off work. I worked in a school and had summers off. The trip was both challenging and life-changing. Another leader was big into praying in the moment, and students were seeking her out continually asking for prayer from her. She took me under her wing as I opened up to her some of my fears and struggles with depression. We continued to meet for six months after we returned and she took me through a type of inner healing ministry where we invited God to come in and lead me to memories that needed to be healed. She had a friend who assisted her. One week the friend asked if she could pray over me in tongues. I said okay. I think back to that moment and wonder why I agreed. I had no idea I was now open to tongues as a couple of weeks before that I had told them unequivocally that I was against them. It was not a gift I wanted.
After that prayer, things began to change. I took a trip to IHOP, the International House of Prayer. I rode with another lady, who through a conversation about tongues and prayer languages, I found out she had one. The curiosity within me grew. She told me she had attended a class where you could listen to others speaking in tongues and possibly have it unleashed within you. I asked her what she would use this gift for, and she said when words would not describe the love she felt for God, she would use her prayer language. I didn't think I loved God enough to ever be in that situation. While we were talking about prayer languages, I was reminded of a few foreign words that would come unbidden to my mind during the darkest years of my depression. I had believed then it was from the devil. Now I was questioning if I had been wrong about that. Maybe it was the beginning of having a prayer language. I told her this, and she told me to repeat the words over and over as I prayed. She believed it had been God breaking through in my darkest hour. I was a bit scared as I had previously thought the word came from Satan, but I respected this woman, and I now realized I had more than a curiosity, I had a desire to receive a prayer language.
So that is what I did. I had not spent much time praying before even though I had been a Christian for most of my life and had attended Bible College. I had a lot of trouble getting started, so I put on loud worship music and sang until I had a desire to pray. It worked really well. As I remembered, I would repeat the foreign words over and over. I did this for a few months, and one day, the language just started to flow. I was going through a particularly hard time, and this new found prayer language was wonderful. Soon, it progressed from being intercessory in nature to being warfare intercession. I believed it was helping me get through this hard time even though I didn't know what I was praying. I knew what was in my mind and thought it must be what I was saying.
There were seasons I used my prayer language more than others. I never did think I was using it to express my love for God, though by now, I knew I did love Him a great deal. I used my language primarily in intercession to pray for others.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
That was more than ten years ago. Recently, I began to question many things. Tongues were one of the things, particularly prayer languages. What did the Bible say about it? What I found is the Bible doesn't teach a prayer language outright. You have to do some Scriptural gymnastics to teach it is taught in the Bible. Maybe someone out there who disagrees with my assessment will help me see my error.
1 Corinthians 13:1, "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels..." is one of the verses used to teach a heavenly language. Although I don't know for sure what Paul meant when he said, "tongues of angels," I know the Bible doesn't come out and say it's a heavenly prayer language. The Bible gives numerous accounts of angels speaking, and they were always understandable, so to assume it means some ecstatic heavenly language that is only understood by God, is a stretch. And if you read all the references in 1 Corinthians 14 of an "unknown tongue" (KJV), you will find there is no reason to think Paul is referring to a heavenly prayer language, but rather he is saying a language unknown to the person speaking, just like at Pentecost. J. Vernon McGhee says, "Note that the word "unknown" is in italics in your Bible, and that means it is not in the original Greek."  Nowhere does the Bible distinguish between two types of tongues. There simply is no reason to think the tongues spoken of in Acts have a different meaning from the tongues spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12-14.
I do not deny I spoke in an ecstatic tongue, one that I did not understand but was also not a human language. As far as I know, I was using it for the reasons I thought I was. I was speaking to God and interceding for others. My friend in the car could be right about God breaking through to me by giving me two or three words as the beginning of a prayer language. But since I can't back it up with Scripture, I am erring on the side of caution. And until God shows me differently, I have to believe the prayer language was not from Him.
I know some godly people who have a prayer language. So I want to be careful about coming across as dogmatic or making anyone feel like I think they are wrong to believe differently. This blog is my journey that I share with others whether it be straight out teaching or like this post, something personal. My hope is that people will know why they believe what they believe and go to Scripture to back it up. I asked someone today if they thought when we got to heaven, we would find out there was more than one truth about these secondary issues (such as what one believed about tongues), and he said that he thought we will all find out how little we knew. I agree with him. Another time, a lady pointed out to me that "we are doing our best to know Him and make Him known." I agree with her too. So whether you believe in a prayer language or not, the important thing is for you to know Jesus as your Savior, to seek to know Him and make Him known, and to be humble.
Articles I read:
Moody Church: Languages and Speaking in Tongues
Christian Courier: What are the "Tongues of Angels" in 1 Corinthians 13:1?
Way of Life: A Private Prayer Language?
From His Presence: How I Learned to Use My Prayer Language
 J. Vernon McGhee: Thru the Bible: 1 Corinthians through Revelation (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983) p.67