Speaking in tongues is a form of praise and worship. In fact, the apostle Paul said that when an individual speaks/prays in tongues they are “giving thanks well” and “blessing in the Spirit.” Paul even said that he would often sing in tongues and he encouraged others to do so as well.
1 Corinthians 14 is probably the most detailed explanation of tongues in the entire New Testament.
We see it mentioned throughout the book of Acts and by Jesus in Mark 16, but we never see it fully explained until 1 Corinthians 14.
And the reason is the apostle Paul had to address some issues within the Corinthian church when it came to the gifts of the Spirit being operated within the church setting, and a lot of these issues had to do with speaking in tongues.
Personally, I am so glad that this chapter was written because it gives so much light on the topic and it leaves behind so many nuggets of information that reveal the purpose of tongues and how we can practice this gift personally and publicly. (Related article: 7 Biblical Purposes for Speaking in Tongues)
And one of these nuggets of information is that speaking/praying in tongues is a form of praise and worship.
The apostle Paul revealed this when he said,
“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.” (1 Corinthians 14:16-17)
The term “with the spirit” is referring to speaking in tongues. We know this based upon the context because just a verse or two before Paul said, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.” (1 Corinthian 14:14)
[Related article: Praying in the Spirit vs. Tongues: What is the Difference?]
So when Paul says, “If you bless with the spirit” he is saying that when you speak in tongues you are releasing a blessing with the spirit.
And while you are blessing when speaking in tongues, you also are “giving thanks well”.
Well, who are you blessing and who are you giving thanks to? To God.
This is why the apostle Paul said at the beginning of this chapter that when we speak in tongues we are speaking mysteries directly to God in the spirit.
“For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.” (1 Corinthians 14:2)
This is obviously a form of praise and worship. If I begin blessing God and thanking Him for all that He has done for me in my known language, other believers would say that I am praising and worshipping the Lord. It is no different when we speak in tongues.
In addition to this, the apostle Paul also said that he would sing to the Lord by singing in tongues when he was in private.
“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.” (1 Corinthians 14:14-15)
We see in this passage that Paul would switch back and forth between praying in tongues and praying with his known language, and singing in tongues and singing in his known language.
Whenever we sing to God with a heart of sincerity and love for Him that is worship. So when we sing in tongues/in the spirit we are worshipping Him by singing songs that speak mysteries directly to Him. (Related article: Singing in the Spirit: What it is & How to do it)
It is truly a wonderful time to worship God by singing in tongues!
And Paul doesn’t just say that he alone can do this, but he actually commanded the whole Ephesian church to do this as well.
“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:18-21)
Notice Paul said that we should sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs“. Well, we just saw that when we sing in tongues we are singing with the spirit, so what can be more “spiritual” than singing in the spirit?
Also, notice that when we do this the Bible says that we will be filled with the Spirit of God continually.
This is why the language is a continuation of “but be filled with the Spirit” and not an additional command.
If it was an additional command Paul would say, “but be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs..”
But he didn’t say that. He said, “be filled with the Spirit, speaking to another…”
He was trying to reveal to the Ephesian church how they can stay filled with God continually. And we do this by singing to the Lord in our known language and in tongues, giving thanks to the Lord always, and by submitting to one another in the fear of God.
[Related article: 7 Tips to Staying Filled with the Holy Spirit (Continually)].
Speaking in tongues during public worship
Everything mentioned above is specifically for our private worship to the Lord. But when we are in public there are certain limitations that Paul gives so that everyone around us can receive edification.
Because remember tongues are us speaking mysteries directly to God and no one understands what we are saying (1 Corinthians 14:2).
[Related article: Is Speaking in Tongues a Real Language? Or is it Gibberish?]
We have to remember that the Bible says that as we speak in tongues we are edifying ourselves but if we spoke in tongues in front of those around us they would receive no edification, unless someone interprets.
For people to understand our speaking in tongues, we (or a believer around us) needs to receive a divine interpretation of what is being spoken with the spirit. (1 Corinthians 14:13 & 27-28)
This is why Paul gave the limitation of “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 14:27-28)
So hopefully you can see the difference here. When we are alone we have complete and total freedom to speak in tongues as often, as long, and as loud as we want, with no need for an interpretation.
However, when we are in public, among the church, we are required to have an interpretation present when tongues are present so that everyone can receive edification.
This is why Paul said that he speaks in tongues more than the whole Corinthian church, but when he is among the church he would rather speak five words with his understanding than ten thousand words in a tongue. (1 Corinthians 14:18-19)
Speaking in tongues has private and public uses, and understanding both is critical to the edification of the Church and of ourselves.
I hope you enjoyed this article and that assisted you in your walk with the Lord.
God bless you all!