“The river of living water was flowing out their innermost beings. It was a river of abundant life and such joy that it could not be expressed with their Spirit languages. There was such a surge of power, that they spoke out in tongues loudly and for a long time. It was so fulfilling and satisfying, after having to wait for so long, that it made them desirous to continuously pray, praise and magnify God with their new spirit languages.”
Wow! This passage comes from the book, “70 Reasons for Speaking in Tongues,” by Bishop Bill Hamon. He is describing the flow of the Holy Spirit, as experienced in the Upper Room, during the day of Pentecost, as was written in the Bible in the book of Acts.
This must have been an awesome time in the Lord. Imagine that feeling of bubbling over with the power of the Holy Ghost, while in the same atmosphere as others who are experiencing that same feeling. I can imagine that this, the speaking and praying in tongues, is an attribute that God desired to increase in the Body of Christ. However, in this day and age, especially in America, the Upper Room experience is not duplicated in as many circles as God would desire.
Those in the Upper Room were blessed to have such an experience, and to be living during the birth of the church. Many Christians today long for that same experience. What has obstructed the constant and ever-increasing flow of the Holy Spirit, over the ages, throughout all the Body of Christ? It is my belief that the answer is “religiosity.” After all, the whole intent of the Upper Room experience in the day of Pentecost, was that the gospel of Jesus Christ would spread throughout the world by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Although I believe that it has been religion, doctrine and lack of understanding which has caused us not to have yet fulfilled this vision, I truly believe that before Jesus’ return, we will have an Upper Room experience that will spread like wildfire, amongst all the peoples of the world. What would have to occur in order for that experience would manifest itself? God only knows.
Getting back to the book – Bishop Bill Hamon’s book – I was so tremendously blessed to have read “70 Reasons for Speaking in Tongues” just over a year ago, during the summer of 2011. Bishop Hamon, founder of Christian International Ministries Network in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, had also written numerous other books including “Apostles, Prophets and the Coming Move of God,” which I read in 2003. So when I learned that he would be less than an hour’s drive away last summer, I made plans to attend the meeting. This meeting, where Bishop Hamon preached, is where I learned of his recent book “70 Reasons for Speaking in Tongues.” Not only did I have the opportunity to read the book, but I, almost a year later, had a chance to ask Bishop Hamon a few questions regarding his book, and the topic of praying, or speaking in tongues.
One of the questions I asked was whether there is a difference between praying in tongues and speaking in tongues. According to Bishop Hamon, they are one and the same. “Praying in tongues, speaking in tongues – it’s just the terminology,” Hamon said. “Scripture talks about the gift of the Holy Spirit. Whether you are praying, singing or speaking in tongues, you are using the language – the gift that God gave you.”
Another question that I had the opportunity to ask Dr. Hamon was “What happens in the spirit realm when we pray/speak in tongues?” “You activate the good spirit realm when you pray in tongues,” Hamon said. “You move in the spirit. You activate yourself to move in the Heavenly places in Christ Jesus. It is an inner dimension – you are moving in the spirit realm. It stirs up the Holy spirit. When we pray in tongues, we are praying the will of God.”
To me, that sounds like good enough reason to spend regular, consistent time praying in tongues. Now we all want the Holy Spirit activated in our lives don’t we? We all want the will of God for our lives, don’t we? These sound like good enough reasons for praying in tongues to me, and I am sure they do to the average person. This leads me to another question that I asked Bishop Hamon, “How do we get people to pray in tongues if the church doesn’t advocate it?”
Bishop Hamon, who acknowledges that the majority of Christians do not utilize the gift of speaking in tongues, answered, “You have to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. You do not buy it or participate unless you see it as valuable. If you are not motivated by the positive, if you neglect God’s gift, you suffer loss.”
I think His answer, is simple, yet profound. We have to see the benefits in order that we begin using the gift, but if we do not use the gifts, regardless of the reasons and excuses we have for not using it, we suffer loss. To me, this is very enlightening, because many Christians wonder why their lives are not what God ordained them to be, although they are praying for themselves and others and trying to live holy and righteous lives. Well, could it be, as Bishop Hamon, insinuated, that we are at a major loss in the Body of Christ, because we don’t speak/pray in tongues. This is enlightenment enough for me!
However, there is some more light that I personally believe needs to be shed on a particular aspect of the topic of speaking/praying in tongues. That is the bright light that needs to shine on whether or not there is legitimate tongues and illegitimate tongues. In other words, some members of the Body of Christ believe that unless the Holy Ghost overtakes your tongue, and you start speaking uncontrollably, then you really are not speaking in tongues.
So I asked Bishop Hamon, “Some people speak in tongues in a way in which observers know that they are not in control of what is going on. Others are more deliberate in their speaking in tongues. What is the difference – does one have the gift and the other doesn’t? How do you alter the mindset of those who believe that the only legitimate tongues is that in which there is uncontrollable speech?”
Bishop Hamon replied, “In 1950, I was baptized with the Holy Ghost. Some people react differently than others. In the old Pentecost, some people thought you had to speak uncontrollably to get tongues. For several months, I was afraid to say I had it or I didn’t have it. I was confused. I asked God to give me the genuine Holy Ghost. I just waited. I spoke. The bible says ‘When the Holy Ghost came they spoke in tongues.’ It was by faith. I spoke in tongues. The devil said, ‘No you don’t.’ About the fifth time, the Holy Ghost came over me. No one can convince me otherwise. At will you can speak in tongues.”
What I liked best about my interview with Bishop Hamon was his openness in sharing his own personal experience with receiving and activating the gift of tongues. But most importantly, it was his attitude about God giving us a gift that we can use freely, without being afraid that we are abusing the gift. In other words, so many people truly believe that the gift of tongues should be put in a box and should only be used in certain ways, through certain people, in a certain style, etc., etc., but Bishop Hamon states otherwise. “You can purposefully pray in English and then ask the Holy Spirit to pray,” Hamon said. “Other times you can be driving and praying in tongues. It is an open flow. Thank God He didn’t put a lot of rules and regulations over it. He just said do it.”
“You are a spirit,” he continued. “You can have control, let the Holy Spirit control, speak it. We can direct it, we can pray it. It is our gift. It is given to you. Manifestations are given to everyone. Gifts are sovereignly given by the will of the Holy Spirit and activated by the faith of the believer. It is your gift. It is up to you. We will be held accountable.”
I am sure that the above statements will bless many readers, because I am sure that many Christians hesitate to speak in tongues for fear that they are not really speaking in tongues, just as Bishop Hamon was, immediately after he received the Holy Ghost, and I am sure, just as many others in the Body of Christ are, or have been.
When I asked Bishop Hamon if there was anything that I had not asked him, that he thought would be important for the readers of Prayer and Praise Magazine to know, he mentioned that “Jesus died and resurrected and went to Heaven, with nblood and redemption and to give us the gift of the Holy Spirit. We should respect it, honor it and use it to our full extent. Jesus gave it. It is His gift to us. Jesus was the greatest gift to the world. Jesus gave the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit gave the best and greatest gift. If He felt that was the greatest gift, we should use this gift. The only way the people will pray in tongues is if they realized the value of it.”
Not only was I so blessed to have interviewed Bishop Hamon, but I was so blessed to have read his book. Writing this article is a true blessing, because it is helping me to get in my spirit that I need to increase my time spent praying in tongues – for two main reasons. The first is that Jesus died a seriously painful death such that I would receive this gift. Must his dying be in vain? The second reason is that, as Bishop Hamon stated, Christians suffer loss when they do not use their gift. I cannot afford any more loss in my life.
The reading of “70 Reasons for Speaking in Tongues,” and the interviewing of its author has been a true blessing to me. Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension mean so much to me. I know that I must renew my mind daily, and take on a new commitment to pray in tongues consistently, so His life, death, resurrection and ascension will not be in vain.
Sheila Thomas is editor and publisher of Prayer and Praise Magazine.
Bishop Bill Hamon’s book can be purchased at the following link: https://www.christianinternational.com/index.php?page=shop.browse&category_id=3&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=82