Church Guidelines for Prophesying, Praying, and Speaking in Tongues, Part 3 (Praying Through the Bible #252)

TEXT: 1 Corinthians 14:1-19 (verses 1-9 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.


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 251 messages in this series.

This is message #252 titled, Church Guidelines for Prophesying, Praying, and Speaking in Tongues, Part 3.

By way of introduction, Dr. John Walvoord & Dr. Roy Zuck, editors of the Bible Knowledge Commentary, said about this passage, “Paul had no intention of depreciating the gift of tongues; he was simply interested in appreciating the gift of prophecy. There was nothing wrong with the gift of tongues; in fact Paul thought it would be good if everyone had the gift. Of course he had said the same thing about celibacy, but in neither instance did he expect universal compliance with his statement. Since both were gifts from God, neither should be despised. In a church gathering, however, the gift of prophecy and its exercise was greatly to be preferred to uninterpreted tongues simply because the former built up others. As already stated, the tongues gift was confirmatory and thus temporary. Thus those instructions, specifically directed to the Corinthians’ misuse of tongues, are not directives for the use of tongues today.”

The Apostle Paul continues giving instruction on the use of the gifts of prophecy and speaking in tongues in the church. He reiterates again in verse 5 that he preferred that the people in the church pursue the gift of prophecy rather than that of speaking in tongues. He says, “for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.” The Greek word that Paul uses that is translated as “greater” means larger or stronger. It is not to say that the prophet is more important in value, but in capacity. Prophecy is of benefit to more people than speaking in tongues.

Some of those who desired the gift of speaking in tongues appeared to be doing so because it seemed glamorous or was celebrated more than other gifts. But, Paul’s concern is only about how many people can be edified with the gift. If the tongue is not interpreted, no one will be edified by what the speaker is saying. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon lists the definition of edifying as “the act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness, and holiness.” Whatever you do in the church, you must ask yourself whether you are doing it to improve the spiritual growth of others or whether you are just doing it to show off and gain praise for yourself.

Dr. Warren Wiersbe writes, “Paul did not deny the value of tongues to the speaker, but he did place a greater value on building up the church. Unless the tongues are interpreted, the message can do the church no good. Paul pointed out that an interpreter must be present before the gift of tongues may be exercised.” He goes on to use himself in a hypothetical situation. He says, “If I come to 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?” Speaking in another tongue would have done no good for Paul’s listeners.

If Paul wanted to benefit the church, he would have to come with revelation directly from God, knowledge based on the study of God’s Word, prophetic speech directed toward a situation the church was facing, or the explanation of some doctrine the church needed to abide by. All of this, of course, would be delivered in the people’s native language. The point was not how dramatic the speaker could be, but whether or not the people could understand what the speaker was saying and apply it to their lives. There is no merit in being mysterious or complicated when it comes to Christian teaching (or any other kind of teaching); such teaching only comes across as confusing and unbeneficial.

A piano only has 88 keys, yet a pianist is able to play an infinite number of songs. You and I would instantly be able to recognize, understand, and enjoy the sounds of “Amazing Grace,” “The Star-Spangled Banner,” or The “Star Wars” Theme Song. Why? Because the notes of each song are played in an orderly and organized fashion. Out of this order comes beautiful music. If someone bangs around on the piano keys, no matter how much they claim they are making music, everyone will see it for what it is — cacophony, and no one will be able to understand or enjoy what is being played. In the house of God, we ought to be committed to making beautiful, orderly, music that all people can understand and by which all people can be benefitted, edified, and uplifted.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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 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.


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