Praise and the Gifts of the Spirit
The following is taken from Jim Tibbetts book: Meditation, the Jesus Prayer and Alleluia Praise! It gives a basic understanding of biblically based meditation.
Praise is one of the main activities found in scripture and even in worship. We praise God naturally and He deserves all praise, which is rightfully part of the Holy Trinity.
Praise is a charismatic function and often found in charismatic prayer groups and evangelical groups. Many of these groups also us the gifts of the spirit.
1. The Charismatic Gift of Tongues
The gift of tongues is one of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit found in 1 Cor. 12. The nine gifts of power (usually referred to as charismatic gifts) are found in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11; “To one the Spirit gives wisdom in discourse, to another the power to express knowledge. Through the same Spirit one receives faith; by the same Spirit another is given the gift of healing, and still another miraculous powers. Prophecy is given to one; to another power to distinguish one spirit from another. One receives the gift of tongues, and another that of interpreting the tongues. But it is one and the same Spirit who produces all these gifts, distributing them to each as he wills.”
These gifts are also understood as charismatic powers since they are often used to spread the Word of God with power, and the kingdom of God is one of power and might.
The nine charismatic gifts/powers (1 Cor. 12) are actually three groups of three: 1. tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy; 2. discernment of spirits, word of knowledge, word of wisdom; 3. healing, miracles, faith. In Acts 2 is the first recorded experience of praying in tongues.
The gift of tongues is a prayer gift and one of the greatest prayer gifts that we as Christians can receive. It is a supernatural gift in that it is beyond our limited understanding. When one prays in tongues the spirit prays. The pray of tongues is a prayer of the human spirit, yearning towards God.
There are many stories about tongues like one story of a Jewish man who went to a Pentecostal prayer meeting and the group was praising God and praying in tongues. After they stopped the Jewish man came forward, in tears, and said who was praying in the most beautiful Hebrew some Jewish Prayers. No one in the room knew Hebrew. Another story is of a Chinese man who was walking down the hall in a retreat center and heard a man in a room praying in tongues. He knocked and asked how the man could speak perfect Chinese and how he knew where this man lived in China and was able to describe the place. Of course the man did not know Chinese and had never been to China. In these two instances tongues was used to witness. (book: They Speak with Other Tongues)
People usually receive the gift of tongues in the Baptism of the Holy Spirit seminar and learn to pray in tongues in a charismatic prayer meeting. At first a person may only pray a few words in tongues or a few sentences but as they practice praying in tongues they improve and get better at it. It becomes more natural and fluent. The gift of tongues grows and deepens as one prays with it over time.
The gift of tongues is a Prayer of the Heart. Tongues comes out of a person’s heart from the depth of their human spirit. The gift of tongues comes out of the holiness of the human spirit and at times, like the stories of the Hebrew and the Chinese gift of tongues, it is aided by the Holy Spirit for the fruit of evangelism. Even though we do not know what the Spirit is saying in tongues, God does and blesses its use.
Praying the Jesus Prayer or the Prayer of the Heart is very similar to the gift of Tongues in its usage. At times a person might pray the Jesus Prayer and at other times he might be praying in tongues. Both of these are coming out of the Heart, from the human spirit.
Sometimes we might be called by the Spirit to pray in tongues and at other times we might be called to pray the Jesus prayer in one of its versions. There could be many reasons and long explanations as to why we might pray in one or the other for certain occasions. The important thing is not to give reasons as to why but to listen and obey, to experience as we pray, to follow the Spirit’s lead.
2. Tongues and Categories of Graces
The question may arise asking if the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, from which the gift of tongues comes is normative in the Church? One of the most complete works on the subject is, Christian Initiation and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit by Kilian McDonnel and George Montague. An edited booklet of this work, Fanning the Flame points out: “How did the early post-biblical church appropriate the biblical teaching? Baptism in the Holy Spirit was a synonym for Christian initiation in Justin Martyr, Origen, Didymus the Blind, and Cyril of Jerusalem. Tertullian, Hilary of Poitiers, Cyril of Jerusalem, John Chrysostom, John of Apamea, Philoxenus of Mabbug, Severus of Antioch, and Joseph Hazzaya clearly regarded the reception of charisms as integral to Christian initiation. Hilary, Cyril, and Chrysostom have all been named Doctors of the church, recognized as authoritative witnesses identifying the faith of the church. Their testimony demonstrates that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a matter of private piety, but of the official liturgy, and of the church’s public life. Historically the baptism in the Holy Spirit is integral to those initiatory sacraments which are constitutive of the church, namely Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. In this sense, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is normative.”
Many stories and scholarly research like the one just quoted could be cited on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues. But this is enough for this work, let those who believe, pray for and practice praying in tongues do so, and for those who have doubts, keep praying.
Actually there are only three categories of Spiritual Graces: Mystical graces, Charismatic graces and Supernatural graces. The paranormal and psychophysical accidents are really two of the three categories of Supernatural graces, yet sometimes these are natural and not supernatural thus not involved in grace. Both the Mystical and Charismatic also each has three categories within each of them. For instance, the nine charismatic gifts/powers (1 Cor. 12) are actually three groups of three: 1. tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy; 2. discernment of spirits, word of knowledge, word of wisdom; 3. healing, miracles, faith.
Obviously the next theological question is why only three categories of Spiritual graces, where do they come from? A very good question and the answer is simply, the three categories issue out of different prayer/worship modes. All three of these Spiritual graces come from prayer. In the Bible there are three main types of prayer and both Jesus and Mary prayed using these three formats, which are very Jewish. The first is praise, this is evident in the Psalms and other old testament texts. Praise is the primary format, inspiration and drive of charismatic prayer.
The second type of prayer is mediation, pondering or contemplation. Meditation was the basic form of pondering on the mysteries of Yahweh. The psalms mention meditation about twenty two or so times. The Virgin Mary pondered/meditated in her heart, Luke 2.17, 51 and Jesus went up to the mountain to pray and meditate, often. The third type of prayer is traditional or discursive prayer. The Our Father prayer is a traditional prayer, Jesus prayer for his disciples (Jn 17) is a traditional/discursive form of prayer.
Charismatic graces come primarily from praise. Mystical graces come primarily from contemplation which starts with meditation. Supernatural graces come primarily from traditional prayers. For instance, the Holy Eucharist is a Supernatural grace that comes mostly from the Tradition of the Church (and its prayers). Tongues is a praise gift, a charismatic gift.
Thus we can see that the three basic forms of Spiritual Graces, mostly come from the three basic types of Spiritual Prayer, which is mostly connected to the three main faculties of the human spirit. The Charismatic graces are flowing mostly from Charismatic prayer which is highly intuitive and emotional. The Supernatural graces of Traditional Prayer (or discursive prayer) reflects mostly the activities of the conscience and mind. The Mystical graces come mostly from Contemplative Prayer (and Christian Meditation) which reflects the activity mostly of communion with God.
This categorization here is not meant to be a theological thesis but a practical help in learning to pray and where things fit into the larger scheme of things. For some people the structure and relationship of terms does not matter, but for those who need basic structure this has been provided. Throughout this book a simplified theological superstructure has been worked out to help one see the microcosm within the macrocosm. The basis for this of course is scripture and specifically the many triads that scripture presents. If it helps use it if not move on with the practice which is the important thing anyhow.
The important thing is the importance of the gift of tongues. It without a doubt one of the most important prayer gifts a person can have. It grows and matures with time and usage. After some practice a person learns to sing in tongues and intermix praise and tongues. Praying the Jesus prayer and praying in tongues go hand and hand, they are two sides of the same coin, they are two movements of the spirit within us that integrate beautifully together.
If you want the gift of tongues, pray for it, desire it, and look for it and the Holy Spirit will find you, giving it to you.
The Charismatic renewal can be defined as: "The enpowerment by the Holy Spirit with the nine charismatic gifts/powers (1 Cor. 12): 1. tongues, 2. interpretation of tongues, 3. prophecy; 4. discernment of spirits, 5. word of knowledge, 6. word of wisdom;
7. healing, 8. miracles, and 9. faith."