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Why Can’t I Speak in Tongues? (Helpful Insight)

There are three primary reasons why you may not be able to speak in tongues; (1) You may not have been baptized in the Holy Spirit yet, (2) you may believe that tongues aren’t for everyone, and (3) you may be believing that Holy Spirit will control your mouth so that you can speak in tongues.

Anyone one of these three things will most certainly cause you to not speak in tongues, so throughout this article we will be covering each one in detail so that by the end of you reading this you will be speaking in tongues in no time.

You have never received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit

The first and most obvious hindrance is you have not truly received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Now the purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is to receive power to be Christ’s witness on the earth.

“You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now…But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:5 & 8)  

This “power” that Jesus was talking about is the manifestations, or the gifts of the Spirit, found in 1 Corinthians 12.

The gifts include healings, miracles, faith, prophecy, words of knowledge and wisdom, discerning of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12).

So if you have never been baptized in the Holy Spirit, or if you have never had an experience where the Holy Spirit has come upon you and filled you, then you won’t have any of these manifestations flowing in your life.

And yes, this includes speaking in tongues.

So the first step is to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit and we do that by asking the Father in the name of Jesus to immerse (baptize) us into Holy Spirit.

Jesus promised us that if we ask the Father in faith, as a child, we will receive.

“If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:11-13)

Once we ask the Father, Jesus is the One who baptizes our whole spirit, soul, and body into Holy Spirit.

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11)

“This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.(Acts 2:32-33)

At the moment Jesus baptizes us, Holy Spirit is coming upon us and filling us and we are receiving power as Acts 1:8 says.

When this happens, we have received the ability to speak in tongues, as well as all of the other manifestations of the Spirit.

In addition to asking the Father for the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the Bible also reveals that people received the Spirit by having hands laid on them by those who have received the Spirit of God.

“For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:16-17)

“And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 9:17)

“And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.” (Acts 19:6)

So if you know people who are filled with the Holy Spirit and they have the power of God in their life, ask them to lay hands on you to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. If not, no worries. Just go before God in prayer and ask in faith.

[Related article: Can You Have the Holy Spirit Without Speaking in Tongues? (Answered)].

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You may struggle to believe that tongues is for every Christian

Even though you may desire to speak in tongues, if you have doubts that the gift of tongues is for every Christian you will struggle to speak in tongues because in the back of your mind, you may believe that it isn’t for you.

In order for us to receive any promise from God we need to believe that it is absolutely 100% God’s will for us to have it. We need to agree with the scripture that says, “All the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

And make no mistake about it, speaking in tongues is a sign that is promised by God.

Jesus promised it to every believer in Mark 16:17-18.

“And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Notice Jesus said, “These signs will follow those who believe.” Sounds like a promise to me.

All of these signs mentioned in the above passage will follow all of the believers in Jesus Christ. In fact, we see each one of these signs takes place either throughout the book of Acts or in church history.

And the only one that doesn’t happen in the Book of Acts is drinking deadly things. But this happens in the apostle John’s life when persecutors made him drink poison and it didn’t kill.

More specifically, when it comes to the speaking of tongues being for everyone we see that the rest of the New Testament affirms this over and over again. Below are some scriptures that show this.

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4) All of the people who were filled spoke in tongues, which is 120 persons. This means 120 out of 120 spoke in tongues.

“The Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God” (Acts 10:44-46)

There was a whole household that was present listening to Peter and all of them spoke in tongues. This means the whole household out of the whole household spoke in tongues.

“And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all.” (Acts 19:6) 12 out of 12 men spoke in tongues.

There is so much more proof from the Word of Gof that affirms that speaking in tongues is for every Christian. I have an entire article available for you if you wish to know more. It’s titled Is Speaking in Tongues for Everyone? (Biblical Answer)

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You may believe that the Holy Spirit will take over

Finally, the most common issue that people run into is they believe that the Holy Spirit will take over their mouths and speak in tongues for them.

We have to understand that nowhere does the Bible say that the Holy Spirit will come over us and control our tongue by flopping it back and forth until we speak in tongues.

This is not what takes place at that moment.

When we speak in tongues Holy Spirit gives us utterance. Another way of saying it is; He guides the syllables that we speak.

So we chose to speak in tongues by faith and then the Holy Spirit responds to that faith by filling our mouths will syllables.

We see this over and over again throughout the New Testament. In fact, every time tongues is mentioned it always specifies who is actually doing the speaking.

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4)

Who did the speaking in this verse? The Holy Spirit or the 120 disciples of Christ?

“They” were the ones who were filled and “they” were the one’s who spoke. The Holy Spirit simply guided the syllables that they spoke.

“And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.” (Acts 19:6)

Again, who did the speaking? “They” did. The Holy Spirit just came over them and provided utterance, or guided syllables.

The best chapter in the whole Bible on speaking in tongues is 1 Corinthians 14 because it explains it so clearly. It explains what it is, its function, how it can be used in private and in public. And it also explains how it can be used thorough us.

One of the biggest points that Paul makes about tongues is that it can be controlled by us. We are in charge of it. We can turn it on and off at will.

Here are some scriptures that reveal this…

“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)

“I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all” (1 Corinthians 14:18)

“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)

“And the spirits of the prophets (gifts of the Spirit) are subject to the prophets.” (1 Corinthians 14:32)

Each one of these passages of scripture prove that (1) we are the one who does the speaking, and (2) tongues is subject to us which means we can turn it on and off at will and we can get loud and quiet at will.

[Related article: Speaking in Tongues: Can you Control it?].

So when you go to speak in tonues don’t think that God is going to come and just start forcing your mouth and tongue to move in all sorts of directions. No, you have to start speaking by faith, trusting that God is going to give the syllables.

Now some people will hear this and they’ll ask God for the gift of tongues then they’ll just open their mouths and wait.

Again, you have to start speaking by faith. The first syllable you speak may or may not “sound” like Holy Spirit is guiding you, but just continue speaking by faith, trusting Holy Spirit is giving you utterance.

God is pleased with faith. Nothing else pleases Him. It takes a lot of faith to speak out something contrary to our minds. But the Bible promises that when we speak in faith He gives us utterance.

I hope you enjoyed this article and that it assisted you in your walk with the Lord!

God bless all of you!

P.S. I have an entire article that does an in-depth study on Speaking in Tongues if you are interested in learning more about this topic. You can read it by clicking the title here: Bible Study/Teaching/Lesson/Commentary on Speaking in Tongues. Enjoy!

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