Praying in Tongues for Healing

by Francis MacNutt
Mar/Apr 2004

It now has been 35 years since I first began praying in tongues. Gradually, I have discovered more and more reasons for praying in tongues in spite of the skeptics' ques­tion, "Why should I pray in some unknown language, if indeed it is a language at all, that even I don't understand? God understands English, so why not pray in English?" That's a question that seems to make good common sense, doesn't it?

So, over the years, I have been discovering good prac­tical reasons for praying in tongues that confirm the leap of faith I made so many years ago. One of the practical, spiritual reasons I have found ( among half a dozen other good reasons) is that the gift of tongues is a· great help in praying for healing.

Let's go back to what I believe is the most basic reason for praying in tongues: it seems to be a way for us to join our imperfect prayer to God's own prayer life, making up for our limitations with his knowledge and understanding. Our own ideas about what best to pray for are almost always limited and imperfect. Often, we don't know how to pray, but if we can join our prayers to the prayer of Jesus, our high priest, we can pray with some confidence that we are asking for the right thing.

This directly helps when you pray for a sick person. Suppose the person is asking you to pray for a heart condi­tion. We all know that heart ailments are sometimes con­nected to a spiritual or emotional ailment-perhaps a lack of forgiveness, perhaps a great deal of anxiety. If you are praying for a large number of people and really don't have the time to spend talking with each person, you do the best you can by turning the prayer over to the Holy Spirit who does understand all the areas of the sick person's life that need ministry. What you can do then is pray as best you can in English and tum the prayer over to the Spirit by praying in tongues, allowing God to make up for everything you don't understand about the sick person's condition.

I first learned this way back in the 1970's, when praying in a church in Cali, Colombia. Many people were kneeling for prayer at the altar railing, and since I didn't speak Spanish, I real­ized the situation was going to require me to spend a very long time asking each and every person what his/her need was. Ordinarily, they would have to speak in Spanish, and the translator would tell me, in English, what they were requesting. Then I would say a prayer in English and, finally, the interpreter would repeat my prayer in Span- ish. The time required for the normal procedure would be exhausting for everyone; so, I simply told everyone ( through the interpreter, of course) that they should say their requests in their hearts, tell them directly to Jesus, and I would pray for them in tongues, asking the Lord to answer them.

The next morning we heard amazing testimonies. Some were dramatically healed, some experienced deliverance from evil spirits, still others came to the Lord for the first time. The response was truly extraordinary. I have been doing this ever since-just turning the prayer over to the Spirit.

As Paul says, this kind of prayer is praying in the spirit, but not with our understanding (1 Co. 14: 15). In this case, understanding the prayer isn't necessary and doesn't require an interpretation.

A second, very practical reason for praying in tongues when praying for a large number of people, is that praying in English requires tremendous concentration, creativity and energy. If, for example, you pray for 100 sick people, this would take a great amount of energy. Even Jesus felt power go out from him when the woman with the issue of blood simply touched the hem of his garment. When you add to that the energy required to pay attention to and touch those 100 patients, you would have done a day's work. Were you to add the attention needed to compose 100 prayers, your healing ministry would take even more out of you.

Praying in tongues is God's marvelous way of helping us in our hour of need. Praying for the sick in tongues is parallel to what Paul is teaching:

...The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what 1ve ought to pray JOJ; but the Spirit him­se(f intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes/or the saints in accordance with God's will (Ro. 8:26-27).

I hope this helps encorage you!

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Mar/Apr 2004 Issue