A Guide for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

(vocal gifts, prophecy, tongues, interpretation, prayer language)

  1. 1.Eagerly desire spiritual gifts.

1 Corinthians 14:1, 4b

1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy…4b but he who prophesies edifies the church.

We are told to eagerly desire spiritual gifts.

—Another way to translate this verse is act like a kid at Christmas. —Tear into the presents that God has placed under your tree

—29 spiritual gifts

— listed in Romans 12, Eph. 4 and 1 Cor. 12 and 14.)

We are told to eagerly desire gifts, especially the gift of prophecy!—Prophecy is one of those concepts that scares a people.

—Associate prophecy with having to be a prophet

—We tend to shy away

Yet we are told to desire it above the other gifts?Why?

  1. 2.Prophecy strengthens the church.

1 Corinthians 14:2-4

2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue[a] does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.

Verse 4 he defines prophecy as the gift that God uses to build up,

—When prophecy is given it should do three things,

1) strengthen us,

2) encourage us

3) comfort us.

You don’t have to be a prophet to exercise the gift of prophecy.

1. Prophecy takes place when we share the scriptures

—The Bible is a living and active

—and sharper than any 2 edged sword.

—when we release truth, it does supernatural things

2. The second use prophecy is where it gets controversial. —There are instances in the Bible when someone shared a thought, a message or a picture filled with prophetic overtones.

—Philip had 4 daughters who prophesied

—Agabus in Acts, ties his hands with a belt and says to Paul

—this is what awaits you

Sometimes prophecy came to an individual and sometimes it came to a group or a church, like Corinth.

Over the years i have heard some good prophecies.Not so good

—I prefer when they are written down.

—A lot people don’t want to write them down because they don’t want to be held accountable for what they say.

Let me share with you an example of a good prophecy. Notice it is not so general that it could apply to everyone and yet it is not encrypted and overly mysterious that it applies to no one.

This is a friend of Melanie and I who has a history of sharing really cool stuff at just the right time.She writes…

“I had a little vision yesterday of you climbing a cliff.  You were so tired and weary and your kept looking down.  You were annoyed that you said yes to this part of the climb.  And then the Lord told you to stop looking down and start rejoicing in this part of the climb.  You started speaking joyfully over the difficulty – and it will shifted everything!”  

“Lord I pray for Paul that you in this season of changes, shifting, heartache, frustrations, pain of caring for the flock, that Paul would be greatly encouraged by the heights you are taking him and for the challenge because it is drawing Him even closer to your face.  Oh what a glorious day, what a glorious day!!!”

A good prophecy is supernatural edge to it but intelligible.

—It resonates and speaks into your situation.

—A good prophecy has a supernatural way of urging us forward in a helpful way.

When prophecy is given it should do three things, according to verse three 1) strengthen us, 2) encourage us and 3) comfort us.

Just because some one give a prophecy doesn’t mean it is accurate.

—It requires sifting and weighing.

—It should always be examine and evaluated.

So if someone shares a prophecy with you or someone gives a word in one of our services, you have to weigh it.

—If it comes up light then ditch it.

—The very heart of prophecy is to build us up and strengthen us!

  1. 3.Tongues primarily strengthen the individual

1 Corinthians 14

4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified. 6 Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?

Some believers are uncomfortable with this chapter in general, especially the gift of tongues in particular.

—shed some light upon the topic

—teach through it and then Q&A

When we get to heaven, what language do you suppose we will speak?

—Chinese, Spanish or English?

—Those are the 3 dominate languages in our world today.

We may think highly of the English language but I am not sure that God does.

1 Corinthians 14:2,4

2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself…

1 Corinthians 14:14-15,18

14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.

There are languages that only God understands.

— languages supernaturally accessible through the gift of tongues

The Holy Spirit can inspire people to speak in languages which they have not learned for the purpose of communing with God.

Simply put tongues is a private prayer language whereby you are not even altogether sure of what it is you are praying.

The beauty of tongues is ability to speak to God in a way that we are not limited by our intellect.

Have you ever reached a point in where your words fall short?You know you need to pray but you don’t know how to pray.

Or when you are frustrated by your ability to express the greatness you feel in your soul.Tongues helps you overcome that barrier.

Paul described tongues as time when his mind was in neutral but the his spirit is fully engaged.

Romans 8:26-27

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 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.

When the Spirit prompts your speech, the result is personal edification.You will be built up.

Ephesians 6:18

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests

Jude 20

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit…

1 Corinthians 14:14

14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding…

1 Corinthians 14:2,4

For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit… Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves…
3 Reasons why his is a big deal

1. Pray in those difficult moments

—accidents and tragedy

2. Sooner or later you will be overwhelmed by God and will want to respond

—Banks of the fountain creek.

—The water chooses the landscape.

***there are times when God just moves in us

—when he does lyrics of songs don’t cut it

—the best words in the English language don’t say it

—just respond

—let loose of inner movement

3. Brings muscle and substance to your faith

—edifies, builds up

I believe that God has a special prayer language,

—that personal and perfectly fit to your spirit

—eagerly desire it (its a gift so you have to ask for it)

—comes from your spirit and not your head

The Apostle Paul, the guy who started most of the NT churches and the guy who wrote 2/3 of the NT said in this chapter, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.Paul was bilingual.He had an earthy language and a heavenly language.He prayed with his mind and he prayed with his spirit.

He also said in this same chapter, “I wish you all speak in tongues.”Paul was convinced of the benefits of this gift.He who prays in a tongue edifies himself.(spiritual steroids).He hoped that the Corinthians would eagerly desire the gift of tongues.

Can I encourage you to not be one of those people who becomes so smart and so indoctrinated that they become closed towards the things of God.The only way you can receive a gift from God is if you are first open towards what he wants to give you.

Many of us are afraid what might happen if we open ourselves up to the gifts or afraid that if we open up nothing will happen and we will be disappointed.Spiritual gifts, not just tongues must be eagerly pursued.


If it tongues/prophecy are so great, why did tongues divide the church and create so many problems for the Corinthians?

—Tongues has a private side to it, that is a prayer language.

—But there is also a public side to tongues.

The public expression of tongues is where most the controversy comes into play.

—That is when someone who has the gift lets it go in pubic.

1 Corinthians 14

6 Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.

The value to a public tongues is when someone is there to interpret the tongue.

—Incoherent speech does nothing to motivate the church.

Public speaking in tongues may bless the individual but not everyone else.

In a group setting, prophecy is the superior gift to tongues because it is intelligible.

—The one exception—if tongues are interpreted than it becomes ligament.

  1. 4.The gifts must be considerate of guests (orderly)

Corinth church was house church or a series of house churches.For sure we are told they met at Gais home.A large Greco/Roman home could entertain 30-40 people.They were a free flowing community where many individuals contributed to the meeting.

This was a free flowing style of church where more people contribute to the meeting.

—In Corinth there was no order of service.

—Nothing was fixed.

That is why Paul writes in v.26 when you come together does every one have a hymn, a word or a revelation?Some of he woman have become so vocal and disruptive that you need to ask woman to be quiet and listen when they are at church.

Paul sets ground rules for the Corinthian chaos.

1 Corinthians 14

23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, 25 and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

When people observe your meeting, you want them to be convinced that God is among you not be scared by you.Many were confused by endless tongues.

Tongues and prophecy were being elevated over all the other gifts.The church was being subdivided into first and second class Christians based upon who had thegifts.Those who had the gift of tongues/prophecy thought their gift was defining mark of spiritual power and maturity.

These are gifts we should eagerly desire

Acts 2:38-39

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”


I started reading the Scriptures and learning about the HS.Shortly after I began to ask for the Holy Spirit in my life.

I was in the back row of a church service and the meeting was winding down and I sat there and asked God to fill me with the Holy Spirit.The Spirit came upon me.It was like a warm-liquid that poured down upon my head, down my neck, across my shoulders.

I didn’t see heaven open or a dove descend but I experienced something.

It was like being kissed for the first time (passion), it was like landing a back flip on a trampoline for the first time (rush).

I became a real believer in the HS.I could engage God more easily.Shortly after I received a prayer language.I really learned to talk to God.I had access to much more power in my life.

Gods wants something more for you. So much more.

Q and A




Acts 8:14-19



Acts 10:44-48

















Peter and John




Laying on of hands








no but implied

not immediately but eventually



Before water baptism or after









Acts 1:4-5, 8

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.”

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 2:1-4

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

Acts 8:14-19

14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 10:44-48

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles.46 For they heard them speaking in tongues[b] and praising God.

Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

Acts 19:1-4

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when[a] you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

“John’s baptism,” they replied.

Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them,the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues[b] and prophesied.



Matt 26:36

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” NIV


Joel 2:28-29

 ‘And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. NIV

Acts 1:7-8

 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”NIV


Luke 11:13

13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” NIV



1 Cor 14:18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. NIV