There is a another false doctrine closely tied to the practice of unintelligible speaking. It is the practice of praying in tongues in what is called a “prayer language” or an “angelic language.” Some people practice this publicly and some teach it is a “private prayer language.” When people pray in this way, they are speaking words and making sounds which mean nothing to themselves or to the hearers.
Again, truth is not measured by someone’s experience but by the Word of God. When this practice is examined by scripture, it reveals that it is a concocted doctrine of man, not of God—for it is not scriptural.
We Are Instructed How to Pray
We are taught to pray “…in the Holy Ghost” (Jude 1:20) and to pray always “…with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18). It takes the Holy Spirit to lead and guide and to help us know how to pray in accordance with the will of God. We are to pray with sincerity and openness to God, living in holiness and praying under the influences of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit Maketh Intercession
Some quote Romans 8:26b which states “…the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” This scripture undermines the doctrine of a prayer language from the very people who quote it in support of a prayer language. The Spirit will pray “for” us not “through” us. It further states that the groaning of the Spirit “cannot be uttered” or spoken. The reality of the passage is that the Spirit of God assists us and helps minister to the burdens that touch the deepest emotions of our lives.
The Tongues of Men & Angels
Paul’s writing of 1 Corinthians 13:1 is used by many to support speaking/praying in the language of angels. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels.” The word “though” is translated from the Greek word ean which denotes indefiniteness or uncertainty. It is better translated to the word “if.” “If I could speak with the languages of humans and of angels….” Paul could not speak all the languages of men nor did he speak the language of angels. He didn’t move mountains and he did not give his body to be burned. He was making a conditional point to demonstrate how charity was the most important of all virtues.
The “tongues of angels” is better understood as being able to speak with eloquence and perfection. If people were able to pray or speak in the language of angels, it would be wise to examine how angels spoke here on earth. There are many scriptural examples to guide us. An angel spoke to Zacharias (Luke 1:13), to Mary (Luke 1:30), to the shepherds (Luke 2:10), to Peter (Acts 12:8) and the list goes on. These angels, divine messengers of the Lord, did not speak gibberish or unintelligibly, but they spoke in the native tongue of the hearer.
1 Corinthians 13:8 continues: “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues [glossa], they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” If tongues were angelic, how would they cease? Will the angels be incapable of speaking? Paul never inferred that he spoke an angelic language and the scripture never supports the existence of such.
“Unknown” Is Added to Some Translations
Pentecostals and others that teach a “private prayer” language quote 1 Corinthians 14:14. “For if I pray in an ‘unknown’ [added by translators] tongue [glossa], my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.”
Glossa is used, which again means a foreign language—not unintelligible speaking. It would be an arbitrary in-terpretation of Scripture to change the meaning of glossa to suddenly mean incoherent babbling or praying.
If someone is praying in a foreign language, to whom is it unfruitful? The hearer, because the hearer would not understand the language if it wasn’t in his native tongue. When a person prays in a foreign language, how “…shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?” (1 Corinthians 14:16). Paul said the “unlearned” or uneducated would not understand the prayer; not because it was gibberish, but because he had not been schooled or taught that foreign language. The educated, learned person would understand the prayer. The prayer would be unfruitful and not edify anyone who did not speak that specific language.
Christ’s Instruction Prohibits Repetition
Regardless of the doctrines of men, turn to the example of Jesus Himself as He taught us to pray in Matthew 6:7-13. “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do… “(7). The Greek word for “repetition” means to stutter or stammer. It is clear that we are to pray with clarity and simplicity. The heathen and idola-ters would babble in their prayers and repeat the same thing over and over. Jesus said not to do that. This is the very thing many “tongues praying” people practice. They teach people how to pray by saying the same things over and over, which is in direct contradiction to God’s Word.
In verse 9, Jesus said, “After this manner therefore pray ye….” Jesus did not make strange noises or speak a strange tongue or language. He prayed distinctly and with understanding. If God wanted His people to pray differently in an unknown tongue, it seems Christ would have taught us differently; and we know that Christ and the Father are not in conflict but are one.
Be Not Deceived By Men’s False Doctrines
There is no evidence or example in the Bible of a prayer (angelic) language. It is a further perversion of truth and it is not of God. Be not swept away with the doctrines and teachings of man, but follow the example of Christ that you might be found ready to meet Him in peace at His return.