He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the Church (1 Corinthians 14:4, KJV)
There are two distinct operations of speaking in tongues that are often confused with each other. These two arms of operations can be easily categorized as prophecy and prayer. Many believers do not realize that prophesying in tongues and praying in tongues are related but distinct manifestations of this astonishing gift.
When someone speaks in tongues and another person interprets the message, that is tongues serving as prophecy. In fact, on the day of Pentecost, there were no interpreters and God used the human language of the hearers. The purpose of this manifestation is to edify the Church just as prophecy or to speak to unbelievers. Some believers have made the mistake of saying that all speaking in tongues is for this purpose. This is far from the truth.
Closely related to this speaking in tongues in prophecy is praying in tongues. Praying in tongues is a completely distinct operation of this strange gift. When we prophesy, we speak to ourselves or to others. When we pray, we talk to God. It is a subtle nuance that you will see if you carefully study 1 Corinthians 14. Furthermore, it tells us something astonishing about praying in tongues. It says when we pray in tongues, we edify ourselves. To edify means to build up, that is, cause things to increase in your life, eg power, wisdom, love, joy, etc. This has nothing to do with another believer or the Church. It is between you and God. I agree speaking in tongues is truly strange, and some Christians have bluntly rejected it not because it is not biblical but because it is strange, appears weird or they do not fully understand it. However, speaking in tongues is a mysterious device God has given to us personally and as a Body to engage the spiritual realm in ways that will not be possible otherwise.
Learn to pray in tongues, and do so constantly. I mentioned to you before how that praying in tongues enlightens my mind in the morning and opens a door for insights and clarity in knowing what to do. This is one of my personal experiences of this scripture. It builds wisdom in me. It can also build power, joy, peace, etc. Whoever speaks in an unknown tongue edifies or builds up himself.
What does it mean to “edify or build up” someone or yourself? How does Jude 20 relate to the verse above?
APPLY THE WORD
Learn to pray in tongues, and do so repeatedly. Prayer in itself is a mystery but praying in tongues is a mystery upon mystery. Things beyond our understanding happen when pray in tongues. Do not stop; pray even more!
Ask the Spirit to enable you to pray in tongues more than you have ever done before.