Many Pentecostals Don't Pray in Tounges

by Francis MacNutt
Mar/Apr 2007

An encouraging finding of a recent ten-nation survey is that Pentecostal and charismatic churches are growing at an amazing rate, and at least a quarter of the world’s two billion Christians now embrace Pentecostalism. Dr. Vinson Synan notes that, historically, churches that embrace tongues have grown larger than those churches that rejected it. For example, the “Assemblies of God” has ten times as many members as the “Christian and Missionary Alliance,” which took a “seek not, forbid not” position on tongues.

Traditionally, Pentecostals have taught that praying in tongues was the initial evidence that people have really been baptized in the Spirit, but a new finding is that today most Pentecostals do not pray in tongues! The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life finds that in six out of ten countries studied, at least 40% of Pentecostals said they never pray in tongues. In the U.S., 49% of Pentecostals report that they don’t pray in tongues. Among “charismatics,”1 that figure is 32%.

Now, healing prayer has become a more common practice among Pentecostals than praying in tongues, while some charismatic leaders no longer consider praying in tongues as an essential sign that someone has been baptized in the Spirit. Nevertheless, the three major Pentecostal denominations (Assemblies of God, Church of God in Christ, and Foursquare Gospel) still consider tongues as the “initial evidence.” Foursquare President Jack Hayford said that no matter where theologians fall on the initial evidence debate, if tongues is not practiced, there is no reason to label the movement “Pentecostal.” He also says that some Pentecostals don’t realize the practical value of tongues, which leads to spiritual enablement beyond our natural capacity. The fascinating finding is that divine healing is now more commonly practiced than praying in tongues!2

1 “Pentecostals” are those who belong to churches that were founded due to the rediscovery of the “baptism in the Holy Spirit” and exercise of the charismatic gifts, such as healing. “Charismatics” are those members of the established churches who remain within their churches, but have experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
2 Information taken from: Charisma magazine, December 2006, p. 18-19.

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM.   Mar/Apr 2007 Issue