Do you want to become more intimately acquainted with Father God? Do you want to know what His heart beats for, what He loves, what He hates? If so, then asking the Holy Spirit for the gift of interpretation of tongues will help you.
Interpretation of tongues is one of the 9 power gifts of the Spirit.
It has both public and private uses. We usually hear about this gift in its public setting–in a corporate worship meeting after someone gives a prophetic word in a different tongue. However, the use of this gift goes way beyond that.
My favorite application of this gift is actually in the private setting, because interpretation of tongues can help you know the Father SO much more intimately.
Here’s how interpretation of tongues works in the private setting:
Whenever I sit down to pray, I always try to claim the promise of Romans 8:26-27 before I actually start praying. This passage says:
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
So, when I begin to pray, I confess to the Lord that I don’t know what to pray as I ought, or how to offer it worthily as I ought; but I ask that the Holy Spirit would intercede for me with moanings and groanings that cannot be uttered.
(Note: If you’re looking for some ways to power up your prayer life, check out two of my most-read posts ever: 5 Prayers To Increase God’s Glory On Your Prayer Life and 10 Prayers That Draw Me Closer To God Than Any Other Prayers.)
Then I ask that He who searches the hearts (in other words, the Father) would know what the mind of the Spirit is, for He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
After I pray that, I find it sooooo much easier to pray.
I mean, prayer becomes easier 100% of the time. Prayer just flows after I claim that promise, and I know it’s because the Holy Spirit is praying through me and for me.
So then, knowing that I’m depending on the Holy Spirit, I trust Him to lead my prayers both in English and in my prayer language.
Here’s where interpretation of tongues comes in:
As I pray in my prayer language, my spirit prays and I speak words that I don’t know. However, even though I don’t understand the exact words I’m saying, my mind follows what my spirit is saying.
It’s not the other way around; praying in my prayer language is definitely spirit-driven, not mind-driven. (Which is why the Bible says that ‘in the spirit we speak mysteries.’)
However, as I move from subject to subject, I can tell what I’m praying about because I’ll pray about it in my prayer language for a few moments, and then my mind will suddenly understand what I’m praying for/about. (I’m guessing this has likely also happened to you, and you might not have even realized what was happening!)
This is the private use of the gift of interpretation, and it’s sooo helpful. There’s no question that we should ask God for it. The gifts are available to everyone, and this gift helps you know God better.
Here’s how interpretation of tongues helps you become more intimately acquainted with God:
Many times, I’ve been praying something in the Spirit, and then suddenly understood it in English with my mind. And I’ve thought, “Wow, Papa, I would never have thought to pray for that. I would never have thought to pray those words, or claim that promise.”
Or: “Wow, Lord, XYZ just happened today, and You had me praying about that in the Spirit yesterday—but I never would have thought to pray about it yesterday if Your Spirit hadn’t led me to do so; and I never would have noticed that this was You answering that prayer or moving in my life if You hadn’t helped me to understand what I was praying about.”
Or: “Wow, Lord. You care about that? I didn’t know You were thinking about that today. I didn’t know that was on Your heart.”
So every time this happens, when I pray in the Spirit and Holy Spirit gives me the interpretation of what I’m praying, I understand Father’s ways a little bit better. I know Him a little bit better. I learn what He cares about just a little bit more.
Now about the public use of the gift of interpretation of tongues:
In some churches, on some occasions, the Holy Spirit may choose to give someone a prophetic word to the corporate body at large in a heavenly language.
If this happens, the word in tongues must be interpreted. The Bible tells us why in 1 Corinthians 14:6-19:
But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching?
Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?
So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.
There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance. Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks, and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me.
Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.
Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.
What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.
Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.
I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:6-19).
The Bible also tells us that a word in tongues should be both given and interpreted decently and in order.
In other words, wait until the right time to deliver the word. (It’s not appropriate for someone in the congregation to stand up and interrupt the pastor, who is preaching, because they “felt led” to give a word in tongues.) The word should definitely be released, but wait for the right time and right way.
First Corinthians 14:39-40 says:
Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order.”
The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets (1 Corinthians 14:32). You are in control of yourself. Therefore, if God gives you a word, He will help you know the right time and the right way to deliver it.
Never believe someone if they say “they had to prophesy even though the pastor was preaching” or they “couldn’t hold their word back.” If God gives us a word, you can rein yourself in and deliver the word in a decent, orderly manner.
Also, if a word in tongues is given in a public place, the Bible says there must be an interpreter present.
The apostle Paul wrote:
How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God” (1 Corinthians 14:26-28).
So after the person gives the word, the interpreter must then interpret the word for all to hear.
And God may say some pretty cool things in this way.
For example, have you ever heard the song “Majesty”? It’s beautiful, right? One of the most beautiful, powerful worship songs I know. Well, did you know that “Majesty” is the interpretation of a prophetic song in tongues that the Lord gave to Pastor Jack Hayford?
Yup. True story.
Look up the lyrics and re-familiarize yourself with them. Here’s one of my favorite recordings of the song, if you’d like to listen to it:
What an amazing song of worship, right? It’s anointed; it’s doctrinally correct; and it’s heart-felt. It’s a song straight from the throne room of God.
Literally. Because it was downloaded by the Holy Spirit, in a heavenly language, and then interpreted for all to understand–and for the generations to come to sing, hopefully until the end of time!
That’s a fantastic example of the public use of the gift of interpretation of tongues.
When God speaks to a corporate church body in a heavenly language, someone must be there to interpret–and the word, if truly from the Lord, will edify, encourage, and equip the Body, drawing them closer to Jesus than ever before.
So do you want this gift of interpretation of tongues? Pray this with me:
Heavenly Father, in Jesus’ name, I thank You that ALL things necessary for life and godliness are mine in Christ Jesus. I thank You that You have made Yourself and everything You have completely available to me through Jesus’ blood.
So Father God, in Jesus’ name, I ask right now that the Holy Spirit would give me the gift of interpretation of tongues. Help me to understand my prayer language and all heavenly languages, both privately and corporately. Teach me how to use this gift, and help me to operate in it effectively. Give me Your interpretations–Your words–always, and only Your words; and help me to say nothing except what You say.
Thank You, Lord. I love You. Thank You for this amazing gift, and please help me to know Your heart better as I use it. Thank You, Papa. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.”
Did you pray that prayer? Then believe God for this gift, and next time you pray in a prayer language, watch as He shows you the meaning of exactly what’s on His heart as you pray!
Is the Holy Spirit speaking to you through this post today? If so, please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you.
Read all posts in this series about the power gifts!
- Diverse Tongues (Speaking in Tongues)
- What Is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit (and How To Receive It)
- My Story: How I Received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit
- Words of Knowledge
- How I Learned to Use My Prayer Language
- The Gift of Prophecy
- Discernment of Spirits
- How Words of Wisdom Accomplish the Impossible
- How Interpretation of Tongues Helps You Know Father’s Heart
- Miracles that Bear Witness for Jesus
- Easy Faith for the Impossible
- Healings That Change the World