Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 14:13-17
13 For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. 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; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. 16 Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? 17 You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified.
Verse for Meditation: Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. – Romans 8:26 (ESV)
Devotional: The gift of tongues allows a person to connect with God in an intimate way that bypasses the mind. One of the issues in the Corinthian church, with all their giftedness, is that they did not steward this gift rightly.
Paul says very clearly in 1 Corinthians 14:14-15 that he is determined to pray with both his mind and his spirit. In other words he is saying that he will use his intellect at times to lead him in prayer, and at other times he will use his “spirit.” It is clear in the context of 1 Corinthians 14 that what Paul is referring to by praying in the spirit is using the gift of tongues to pray. He says that when he does this it does not benefit his mind but nonetheless it is a useful exercise for him. So much so that he actually practices this on a regular basis (vs. 18).
God has designed us to be people who are guided by both intellect/mind and intuition/spirit. As we grow in Christ we see that these do no stand in opposition to one another, but instead compliment one another and allow us to be more effective in accomplishing God’s will. For those who do not have the gift of tongues there is still an ability to bring yourself to God, “with groanings to deep for words,” that Paul speaks of in Romans 8:26. As whole people, mind and spirit, we come to God and give all that we are to him for the glory of his name.
Question to Consider: The Western worldview has been so heavily weighted toward intellectual knowledge that there is often little room to consider spiritual realities. How can you grow in a greater balance of intellectual and spiritual realities so that you can know and experience God more intimately?