Lk.1:46,47 – And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior”.
Mary is describing supernatural utterance as she begins this prophetic song. She says ‘My soul magnifies the Lord’. This is exactly how Luke describes the supernatural utterance in tongues when describing what happened to the gentiles in Cornelius’s house. He said that the Jewish believers were shocked when they heard the gentiles speak in tongues and magnify God. This is how Luke described it, Acts 10:46,47 – “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”. The prayer language is a vocal, supernatural language declaring the magnificence of the Lord. Mary was so full of God that she too broke out in a prophetic song magnifying the Lord. This is how Adam Clarke describes Mary’s song.
“This is the only way in which God can be magnified, or made great; for, strictly speaking, nothing can be added to God, for he is infinite and eternal; therefore the way to magnify him is to show forth and celebrate those acts in which he has manifested his greatness.”
Mary’s prophetic song is an example of how people respond when they are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. The prayer language and the gift of prophesy is how we pour out this blessing. Mary was a picture of the church about to be birthed through the ministry of her Son. Her angelic visitation and the overshadowing with the Holy Spirit marked her for the rest of her life. She was totally consumed, inside and outside, with the mighty presence of the Holy Spirit. Here is Clarke speaking about Mary being filled with God.
“My spirit hath rejoiced. Exulted. These words are uncommonly emphatical, they show that Mary’s whole soul was filled with the Divine influence, and wrapped up in God.”
This would not be the last encounter Mary would have with the mighty anointing of the Holy Spirit. In the book of Acts, Luke lists Mary as being in the upper room when the Holy Spirit came upon everyone in the room. He said that everyone there spoke in other tongues. Here again we see Mary magnifying the Lord with her Spirit songs. The good news for us, we can all be overshadowed with the Holy Spirit and pour out our hearts in prophetic songs.
Acts 19:1,2 – And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
This description of the birth of the church in Ephesus is critical in understanding the purpose and the power of the Christian life and the Christian church. Christianity is not a creed or a system that we espouse, it is a dynamic life birthed and empowered in us through the Holy Spirit. In this chapter of the book of Acts we see the church in Ephesus birthed after an outpouring of the Spirit on twelve Christians. Paul laid his hands on them and prayed when he realized they had never been baptized in the Holy Spirit. When Paul laid his hands on them they began to speak in tongues and prophesy. This was the birthing of the power source in these twelve Christians that shook all of Asia Minor with thousands of converts and many churches that were birthed. Today’s world is no different. I feel like asking that same question to many churches and even pastors today, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit after you believed?” Our churches need to be baptized in His presence if we are going to effect our world today. Here are some comments from the Life in the Spirit Commentary on this passage.
“Paul perceives their need for the anointing and asks, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”. This question deals with their experience of the Spirit… Paul’s question does not deal with their receiving the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion. From the time the Ephesian twelve were converted, they were indwelt by the Holy Spirit, as all Christians are. Thus, the question is not about receiving the Spirit in salvation, but about what is basic to Luke–Acts and to the immediate context, namely, the Spirit’s anointing with power subsequent to the experience of salvation… Paul recognizes, therefore, that the Ephesian twelve are lacking in regard to the charismatic gift of the Spirit…..”
Are you lacking the power of the Spirit in your life? The immersion or baptism in the Spirit is something that happens again and again in our lives. If you are thirsty and feel powerless find a place where the Spirit is moving and camp out, you too will speak in tongues and prophesy.
Acts 2:7 – They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
Peter was on fire that day, he was speaking like a man from another world. He was actually speaking a new language rather than the language of this earth. Many in the crowd that day didn’t get it. All they could hear was the Galilean twang in Peter’s voice. He had the smell of a fisherman (even though he had left his nets years before). All the crowd could see was an uneducated yahoo, what good could possibly come out of this.
But something was going on that these bystanders couldn’t quite get. Twice in this passage Peter is said to be speaking in what we would call elevated or supernatural speech. First it was the speaking in other tongues. To those with deaf ears, it sounded like the babbling of a drunken man. Paul called it the language of angels, I like to call it my heavenly language. This prayer language is supernatural and flows out of what Jesus called our innermost being. Paul said it was praying in the Spirit. To the natural man this language is foolish, to the spiritual it is the very power of God. After the mocking and accusations of drunkenness Peter stepped forward to give a word of explanation. This too was called elevated speech in the original language. Peter was speaking in the language of the people by the power of the Spirit. Acts 2:14-16 describes it, “But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. “For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel…”
Even though he spoke by the Spirit only a portion of the crowd could “hear” Peter’s message. Thousands heard the voice of heaven and were filled with the Spirit, many others could only hear the voice of a Galilean fisherman. Peter had been changed by the Baptism in the Spirit, he was now speaking the language of heaven. Things haven’t changed much today. Many are still offended by the language of the Spirit, to many others that language just makes them feel right at home.
And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit,
because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
I was born again during the charismatic renewal and the Jesus movement of the 1970’s. I am thankful everyday for the emphasis on the Baptism with the Holy Spirit evidenced by the heavenly language that was a huge part of the move of God in that season. The prayer language has been a blessing to me everyday for these last 43 years. It has been especially critical in enabling me to access the power and presence of the Lord. Without that intimacy in my life I would be left with only precepts and principles; not nearly enough to sustain and satisfy my hungry heart.
I can remember seasons in those early days at Gods Army in California where we would pray for extended periods of time corporately in our heavenly language. Just thinking about those special times I am brought back to the incredible sense of the glory of the Lord. In those moments there was a sense of safety, peace, power, unity, and revelation. A foundation of depending on the power of God was being rooted deeply in my life.
One of the great benefits of our prayer language is that the Holy Spirit, God Himself prays through us. When we don’t know how or what to pray, He takes over with gushings of the heart that can’t be uttered in our natural language. Here are some comments from Andrew Murray on today’s verse.
“We often do not know what we should pray for, and at times we “do not know how to pray”. Then our inability to pray impedes our prayer and handicaps the faith that is essential to the prayer’s success. But God’s Word gives us true encouragement that at times like these the Holy Spirit intercedes for us in accordance to the will of God. Where and how does the Spirit make intercession for the saints? In the heart that does not know how to pray, He secretly and effectually prays what is according to the will of God.”
It’s disappointing to me how many churches today have deemphasized the moving of the Spirit, especially the beautiful practice of praying in the Spirit corporately. This is the place where God comes down and reveals Himself among us. Without the power of His presence evident in His church what exactly do we have? As for me and our church, we will pray in the Spirit and wait in His presence, and allow Him to make His habitation among us.
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Speaking in tongues causes all sorts of reactions. I suppose that would be because it originates with God and not with man. Many, even those who claim to believe in the gift, relegate the prayer language to the back room somewhere and come up with some religious reason for that practice. The question I want to have answered is this, do you really speak in tongues on a regular basis? You see, tongues announced the birth of the New Testament church. Their presence made it very clear that God was in the midst of His people. Shunning the public use of the prayer language will highly restrict the presence of God in the services.
Receiving this gift and using it regularly is imperative if you want the power of God in your life. Have you received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit since you believed? Here is a testimony from a church related to Azusa Street in 1906 from Frank Bartleman and how he received his prayer language.
“On the afternoon of August 16, at Eighth and Maple, the Spirit manifested Himself through me in “tongues.” There were seven of us present at the time. It was a week day. After a time of testimony and praise, with everything quiet, I was softly walking the floor, praising God in my spirit. All at once I seemed to hear in my soul (not with my natural ears) a rich voice speaking in a language I did not know. I have later heard something similar to it in India. It seemed to ravish and fully satisfy the pent up praises in my being. In a few moments, I found myself, seemingly without volition on my part, enunciating the same sounds with my own vocal organs. It was an exact continuation of the same expressions that I had heard in my soul a few moments before. It seemed a perfect language. I was almost like an outside listener. I was fully yielded to God, and simply carried by His will, as on a divine stream. I could have hindered the expression but would not have done so for worlds. A Heaven of conscious bliss accompanied it.”
So if you haven’t received your prayer language or don’t pray in the Spirit regularly it is time to draw near to God. Yielding your whole being (including your tongue) to the Lord will result in a great Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
1 Cor. 14:15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.
Paul implied in one passage that, sometimes, the prayer language could actually be the language of angels. It is definitely “other worldly” and carries the sense of heaven and the presence of the Lord within it. In my early days as a Christian I was part of a Jesus community in California. In our services we would often sing and harmonize spontaneously and corporately in our heavenly language for extended periods of time. The Lord would manifest Himself in amazing ways as we pressed in together, singing in the Spirit. Those meetings were as close to heaven as one can get on this side. I also remember being in the Rodney Howard Browne service in Lakeland in January 1995 when the angels sang. It took place after an extended period of time of singing in the Spirit with several thousand believers. There is nothing comparable to those moments when heaven invades earth, it is beyond description. Here is a testimony about the heavenly gift from an Azusa Street Revival participant, Frank Bartleman.
“I was fully yielded to God, and simply carried by His will, as on a divine stream. I could have hindered the expression but would not have done so for worlds. A Heaven of conscious bliss accompanied it. It is impossible to describe the experience accurately. It must be experienced to be appreciated. There was no effort made to speak on my part, and not the least possible struggle. The experience was most sacred, the Holy Spirit playing on my vocal cords, as on an Aeolian harp. The whole utterance was a complete surprise to me. I had never really been solicitous to speak in “tongues.” Because I could not understand it with my natural mind I had rather feared it. I had no desire at the time to even know what I was saying. It seemed a soul expression purely, outside the realm of the natural mind or understanding. I was truly “sealed in the forehead,” ceasing from the works of my own natural mind fully.”
So don’t be afraid of the unexplainable things of God. There are definitely things we can never fully understand in this life, the power and fullness of His presence is one of those things.
Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.
This story, about the planting of the church in Ephesus, is classic. Paul had just asked these young disciples this question,”have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed”. These newly converted, non-Spirit filled Christians had no clue about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. They weren’t sure what Paul was talking about but they were sure going to find out. Paul laid his hands on them and then it happened, these baby Christians began to speak in tongues and prophesy. Wow! Is it really that easy? Can anyone speak in tongues? I think there is a lot of confusion in today’s church about praying in tongues. Often, scripture that applies to tongues and interpretation of tongues are thrown out there to quench the use of the prayer language. This is part of the reason today’s Christians are largely without power in their lives. Here are some thoughts from the Fire Bible about being filled with the Spirit and speaking in tongues.
“This event occurs about 25 years after the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Yet, the pattern of these twelve people receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit is consistent with the pattern seen throughout the book of Acts. (1) They had believed in Jesus and were born again by the Spirit. (2) After they were baptized in water, Paul laid his hands on them and they were baptized in the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Spirit came on them, they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. The book of Acts never presents the outpouring of the Spirit without any outward evidence. Rather, it shows it to be an obvious and identifiable experience that could be verified by the initial physical evidence of speaking in tongues. This practice is a Holy Spirit-inspired way of speaking, praying or praising God by which a Christian speaks in a language they have never learned.”
The prayer language is an intricate part of our Christian faith. It comes out of the deepest part of our lives and enjoys a deep, intimate relationship with the Lord. Our faith is built as we pray in the Spirit and we are filled with the power of God. This supernatural power enables us to live a godly testimony in a dark world and energizes us for powerful ministry to the hurting. Have you received the Holy Spirit like they did in the book of Acts since you believed?
Is. 28:21 For the Lord will rise up as on Mount Perazim; as in the Valley of Gibeon he will be roused; to do his deed—strange is his deed and to work his work—alien is his work!
Too often we have a tendency to stretch the ‘decent and in order’ thing. Let’s face it, a lot of what God has done through history could be placed in that strange category. Creating man out of dirt, talking to Moses out of a bush on fire, filling Egypt with frogs and flies, parting the Red Sea, walking on water and healing someone’s ears with mud made out of spittle; that all sounds pretty weird. We have become numb to the radical nature of the works of God through history with our familiarity with the stories. If He ever does anything in church today, that church is labeled strange from the git-go. How do I know? I pastor one of those kind of churches. You know the laughing and speaking in tongues kind of church, pretty strange, huh? Or is it? If I am not mistaken, tongues was displayed publicly in Acts 2, Acts 10, and Acts 15. It was apparently part of the daily life of the church until man came up with better ideas. Here is an interesting clip about God’s strange acts from one of Maria Woolworth Etter’s Holy Ghost sermons.
“Since God is pouring out His Spirit in these last days of the Latter Rain, and His people are seeking and receiving the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, with all the Pentecostal gifts and blessings, God has risen up, and is working His strange work, His strange acts, the acts of the apostles through God’s baptized saints.When the Holy Ghost came on the day of Pentecost like a rushing wind, this was His Strange Act…When they saw the tongues of fire on the heads of the hundred and twenty disciples, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and begin to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave utterance, this was God’s strange act, His strange work. While Peter was preaching at the home of Cornelius, the Holy Ghost was poured out on all, and they spake with new tongues and magnified God. This was His strange work, His strange act. When the paralytic took up his bed and walked out, all the people shouted with a loud voice, giving glory to God. The fear of God fell on all. They walked softly, saying, “ We have seen strange things today.”
If you asked me, I think the church has quenched a lot of God’s strange works because of fear and embarrassment. I think it’s time for the rushing mighty wind and the tongues of fire and yes, even that blasted Pentecostal sign of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, publicly worshipping God in other tongues. The world is thirsty for the supernatural, not another slick presentation with empowerment formulas. Bring on the real Lord, even if it is a little strange.
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Another powerful benefit we receive when we speak in tongues is that our prayer language opens the door to the supernatural world of God. In Acts 3:7-8, we see the first healing miracle after Christ’s death and resurrection. A lame man had been in the temple for 38 years when he met Peter: “And (Peter) seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap, he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” There is an invisible spiritual world in which you and I were created to function. God is Spirit. We are spirit beings; we were created by God in His image to live and operate in that world. When we are baptized with the Holy Spirit, a new door to the world of the supernatural opens for us. This is a world that God inhabits, and that man was created to inhabit. As we begin to move into this heavenly realm, walls are torn down and authority is given to us by God in this world, so that we can live victoriously on earth. Learning to function in awareness of the spirit world becomes normal to the Christian who prays often in tongues. In Acts 3:7-8, Peter began to live in this spiritual realm. He was launching out into the world of the supernatural. We see this supernatural world throughout the Book of Acts. The lame man was healed in Acts chapter 3. In Acts chapter 5, multitudes are healed. The Church began to expand and grow throughout the Book of Acts, as people were praying in tongues and began to experience the miracle power of the Lord. God wants us to live in His supernatural world! He wants us to live victoriously, dwelling with Him. We can spend extended periods of time praying in the Holy Spirit and enter this supernatural realm that God inhabits. We may not have a disciplined prayer life but that can change. Make a decision to schedule time with the Lord every day. Begin to launch out into the spiritual world praying in your heavenly language. For too long Christians have been afraid of the spiritual world, yet our prayer language brings us into this new realm, the realm of the Holy Spirit. Spend time praying in your Spirit language and you will begin to see the power of signs and wonders becoming a part of your life.
1Cor. 14:22 ¶ Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.
In Acts chapter 2 we see the first time people in the Bible prayed in tongues when they gathered together in the Upper Room. The people on the streets heard them and some were hearing their native languages being spoken. Acts 2:11 (NASB) says, “Cretans and Arabs – we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” Peter responds in Acts 2:15-16 (NASB): “For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day [or nine o’clock in the morning]; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel.” These non-Christians on the street were in essence asking, “What does this supernatural utterance mean?” Peter explains the baptism with the Holy Spirit to them. That day 3,000 people were born again. We see clearly in this passage of Scripture that praying in tongues drew the people to Christ. God was evident there. His presence is evident when we pray in the Holy Spirit. The world is looking for a supernatural experience. Over the last couple of decades, people have been interested in Ouija boards and fortune-telling. More and more, individuals have looked to psychics and to the occult, longing for the supernatural that they are not finding in many of their churches. People are tired of dead churches that have a form of godliness, yet are devoid of power. They want to experience God. When we pray in the Holy Spirit, we pray a supernatural utterance from God. Our mind is not praying, but our spirit, energized by the Holy Spirit, is praying. This makes Christians and non-Christians alike aware of the presence of God. It is one of God’s advertising tools. What a tragedy it is to invite someone to a prayer group or a church service and hope the people praying in tongues don’t pray too loudly, or that prophecy doesn’t come forth because of the fear that the person visiting might not accept God. The underlying thought is, “I hope there is no supernatural manifestation. I hope God is not here today. If God shows up, this person might not accept Him.” But realize, brothers and sisters, that praying in tongues is God praying! The Holy Spirit is praying through you in a supernatural utterance, and others will be drawn to Christ because they will sense God’s presence there! How vital is our prayer language! It is an outreach to the lost. The last portion of Isaiah 28:11-12 (NASB) tells us about this: “Indeed, He will speak to this people through stammering lips and a foreign tongue…” This is a prophecy written 700 years before Christ. It is a prophecy the apostle Paul quoted in First Corinthians 14:21 regarding our prayer language. Paul quotes Isaiah saying that God was going to speak to the world through the prayer language. Our churches need a new outpouring of this Pentecostal gift. What will the results be? Another harvest of souls.