TEXT: 1 Corinthians 14:1-19 (verses 14-15 here):
1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
5 I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
6 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?
7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?
8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
9 So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.
10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.
11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.
12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.
14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.
— PRAYER —
We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 252 messages in this series.
This is message #253 titled, Church Guidelines for Prophesying, Praying, and Speaking in Tongues, Part 4.
In this passage, Paul has soundly admonished us regarding the use of gifts in the church. He has underscored, again and again, the main reason for which these gifts should be used. That reason is edification. As he continues in this vein, he uses another word that makes the meaning of this teaching even clearer. That word is “understanding.” We all know what it means to understand something. We desire clear, understandable communication in our workplace, in our families, from those who are training us, from our government, and from the media. We don’t like it when things are confusing, when people talk out of both sides of their mouth, when you hear one thing but the person speaking says they meant another. Why should it be any different in the church?
Dr. Warren Wiersbe comments, “Eight times in this section, Paul used the word understanding. It is not enough for the minister to impart information to people; the people must receive it if it is to do them any good. The seed that is received in the good ground is the seed that bears fruit, but this means that there must be an understanding of the Word of God. If a believer wants to be edified, he must prepare his heart to receive the Word.” I hope you go to church intending to, not just hear, but understand what is being prayed, preached, and sung.
What does this understanding look like in reality? How can we reconcile speaking in tongues with edification and understanding. Paul applies his teaching to three specific scenarios, the first of which we will look at today. The first scenario in which understanding is necessary is that of personal prayer. Paul writes, “If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.” We see here that Paul allows for the possibility that someone could pray in a tongue that they do not know — whether it is a special prayer language, another earthly language, or even the language of heaven.
We must also note here that the “spirit” Paul refers to is not the Holy Spirit, but rather the human spirit. If you listen to a song that you like, and the song makes you feel happy and swept up in joy, that is your human spirit reacting, not necessarily the Holy Spirit. That is what Paul is talking about here. If a person prays in tongues, the activity of their spirit may cause them to feel as though they have had an encounter with God. But, we cannot base our actions on feelings. The special feeling that may come after praying in tongues will fade. What will you be left with then? How will you direct your life? In these instances, you need understanding.
Paul says in verse 15, “I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also.” If you pray in tongues — if your spirit communicates with God in a way your mind cannot grasp — make sure you pray for God to give you understanding. It is not wrong to pray in the spirit, but you must have an understanding of what you are saying. (You don’t have to worry about what God is saying; He will make plain what He wants you to know.) You must consciously make the choice to include your mind in the process of prayer. Or else, as The Clark Sisters sang, “all your praying will be in vain.”
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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.