Why asking God for the gift of tongues is good


I hope that this got your attention! It was supposed to. :wink:

Okay so I wanted to share how the gift of tongues will really bless your life more than it already is. I don’t mean to say that you should get this and abandon all the other beautfiul aspects of our faith. No not at all. But to have this gift opens your soul up to God in new and unimaginable ways. This is because what tongues basically is at it’s core is a surrender of the voice to the Holy Spirit, who will pray through you.

When you surrender to the Holy Spirit in this, you will experience Him like never before!

May God bless you in this way!


We shouldn’t ask God for supernatural (or preternatural) knowledge, whether from the gift of tongues, or prophecy, or apparitions, etc. If God gives us these gifts without us asking, that is a completely different matter. Here is some sage advice:

Testing The Spirit - The Criteria of Discernment


The greatest of all mystics, St. John of the Cross, says:

"(God’s) — displeasure at the quest for revelations and locutions, even though He sometimes answers them, lies in the illicitness of transcending the natural boundaries God has established for the governing of creatures. He has fixed natural and rational limits by which man is to be ruled. A desire to transcend them, hence, is unlawful, and to desire to investigate and arrive at knowledge in a supernatural way is to go beyond the natural limits. It is unlawful, consequently, and God who is offended by everything illicit is displeased.

“The devil is most pleased when he sees that a man desires to admit revelation. For then he has an excellent opportunity to inject errors and disparage faith. As I have declared, a man desiring these apprehensions becomes coarse in his faith and even exposes himself to many temptations and improprieties.” (The Ascent of Mt. Carmel, II, 21, 1).


My meditation book Divine Intimacy (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene) in this past Sunday’s meditation explained how these gifts are primarily for the good of others rather than ourselves. Far greater is the gift of sanctifying grace in the soul, which conforms us to God Himself. He notes that even a person not in a state of grace can still have the charismatic gifts.


If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?

Luke 11:13

We are told to pursue love, but strive eagerly for the spiritual gifts; because
every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.
(1 Corinthians 14:1 & James 1:17)

I will pray with the spirit, but I will also pray with the mind. :gopray2:
I will sing praise with the spirit, but I will also sing praise with the mind. :harp:
1 Corinthians 14:15


There is nothing wrong with seeking spiritual gifts, so says St. Paul. He himself says that he wants everyone to speak in tongues. So I am only speaking what he would have said himself.

I think what St. John of the cross meant was that we should not be seeking these gifts as if we a high or some kind of supernatural power. That is no reason to ask God for something. But to ask him for the graces that help us grow into deeper union with Him, is truly praying for the right reasons.

And tongues does indeed bring us into closer union with God. After all, didn’t Jesus tell the apostles to wait until they received power from on high? This led to what we call the first novena ever: They prayed for 9 days to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Should we not follow their example as well?


Hi brother :slight_smile:

I believe we shouldn’t ask for consolations and such, but I think you’re talking about something different here… well I’ve asked for the gift of tongues a while ago (several months ago) but I’ve never received it. I don’t know what that means…whether I’m not being open to Him, or perhaps it’s just not His will for me, or not yet. Maybe in the future. I’m just staying open to Him, and I’m fine with whatever He would decide. If He’ll give me this gift, I’d be glad, but if not, I’d be glad too. As long as His will is done, that is good. What are your thoughts?

God bless :slight_smile:


The best way to receive the gift of tongues is to join with those who already have this gift. When they pray for you to receive it, you will not only have more prayer going on but also, and I believe this is key, there will be the faith factor. Because those who already pray in tongues will have the kind of faith that knows the gift can be given. It is called expectant faith (the kind that moves mountians) and it is different from regular everyday faith (I beleive that Jesus died for me).

Have you ever been prayed with to receive tongues?

peace be with you sis!


Hi, no I haven’t… I guess I don’t have expectant faith yet, cause to be honest I’m still sort of unsure about tongues, I mean - I believe it can be from God, I just don’t know if it’s His will for me to have this gift. Cause everyone has a different role in the Church, right? there are really devout Catholics who have this gift, but there are also really devout Catholics who do not… that is sort of confusing for me.

thanks for the reply :slight_smile:

God bless.


Okay, let me try again. What kind of spiritual gifts was St. Paul talking about? There are different kinds of prophecy, from prophesying future events, i.e. supernatural knowledge, to prophesying the meaning of Scripture, i.e. wisdom. So let’s look at the context:

“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort… Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church… I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” (1 Corinthians 14:1-18 NIV)

Now, if you read the Fathers and Doctors, and Saints, you will never see them ask God for knowledge about the future, or other things that they don’t need to know, or for Our Lord or Our Lady to appear to them. But you will see them asking God for wisdom and understanding, strength and courage, and perseverance, and other such spiritual gifts. And I’m sure this is why Fr. Haydock, who is more well-versed in these things than I am, says this in his commentary:

“To prophesy, in its proper signification, is to foretell things to come: it sometimes is to expound the obscure places in other prophets; and sometimes it is to preach the word of God. Here it is chiefly taken in this last sense.”

So this is my only concern, and it’s not unfounded. Just remember to try to follow the example of the Saints, including St. John of the Cross, who was blessed with some amazing spiritual gifts, which he would never have asked for. God bless.



I went back to check to see what St. John of the Cross says about all of this. While it’s true he goes to very great lengths in “The Ascent of Mount Carmel” about the great harm we do ourselves desiring and asking for supernatural favors of all kinds; his primary focus is on visions, locutions, revelations and so on. It suprised me a bit that he treated the Charasmatic gifts a bit differently . . . mostly because these gifts are given specifically to build up the Church.

While he doesn’t come right out and say it (at least where I can find) my guess is that he would still say desiring/asking for these gifts would be a strike against humility and an obstacle to walking in the purity of faith. This would seem to be entirely within his character and teaching about all things spiritual; be they consolations, gifts, favors, communication or otherwise. I might be wrong about that, though, in this specific case. But I keep thinking about the chart of Mount Carmel he drew . . . . “Nada, Nada, Nada.” That would seem to sum up everything . . . even those areas he’s silent.

What he DOES say, in no uncertain terms, is the harm we bring ourselves in rejoicing in these Charasmatic gifts if we’ve been given them. This is a big part of his teaching on the purification of our will (Book 3 of The Ascent). If we have these gifts we are to use them as they are intended. But dwelling on them, recalling it to mind, drawing satisfaction from it, talking to others about it and so on is where we go astray. Subtle, interior pride is the concern as is finding satisfaction in things “less” than God Himself.

And this makes perfect sense from where he’s trying to lead us. We are to walk in *constant dialogue *with Christ in all we think, say or do. Our satisfaction is to be found precisely in this on-going act. Our joy is to be IN God not ABOUT God. Some might find this distinction subtle symantics . . . but it’s huge when we consider the type and depth of holiness St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church, calls us to. Our feelings and emotions (joy, hope, fear, sorrow in his teaching) should always raise our hearts to the love of God. And we should never rest in anything . . . even the most joyful spiritual thoughts like rememberance of gifts we’ve been given . . . if our hearts aren’t raised from that emotion to the love, praise, adoration and thanksgiving of God in the silence of our hearts.

Just my two cents,


I think it’s a great idea to just seek God’s will, and His Kingdom… .and everything else will come with that :slight_smile: if we seek His Kingdom first, surely He will give us the graces we need to fulfill His will for us… which might include charismatic gifts. I also think it’s really important to ask to grow in virtue and overcome sin, and to ask for greater love for God and humility.

I think I see what St John is saying about not rejoicing in gifts… because then it’s easy to get caught up in the gift and forget that it came from God. Of course, if the person simply thanks God for the gift, that’s fine imo :slight_smile: (we should thank Him.) But maybe what St John is saying is that we should seek to only rejoice in God, not in what He gives us, cause our human nature is so flawed that we tend to make idols of everything and replace the ‘best’ with the merely ‘good’. (disordered love, as St Augustine would say…)

just my two cents…

God bless :slight_smile:


Thank you for these insights Dave. :yup:

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Matthew 6:33
Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near. Isaiah 55:6

May we all open our hearts and allow God to fill us with His precious Holy Spirit.

“I tell you, ask and you will receive.” Luke 11:9


You are right 4EverHis, it is very sad when this happens-

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6


Hi Dave, in this definition, would even seeking discernment from a priest be a prideful act? To kind of “get it off my chest” kind of thing? Thanks, Tim


No not at all! :slight_smile:

St. John of the Cross’ collected works covers about 400 pages directly addressing how all of us can go about seeking deeper union with God. He says very little though (roughly a half dozen pages by my unscientific count), about the Charasmatic gifts. This should make sense, though, because no spiritual gift of any kind is required for union or intimacy with Him. And what he does say about the Charasmatic gifts is confined to the context of the purification of our will . . . specifically the harm of emotionalism: inordinate clinging based on feelings, emotions and passions as another poster described.

But don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing “wrong” at all with these gifts and I’d hate to give that impression; in fact they can be very beneficial. But it’s one thing to ask to grow in deeper union with Him; it’s another thing entirely to say “give me the gift of tounges (or any other spiritual grace) so that I might do so.” Wanting deeper union should be our continuous prayer . . . but we should be humble enough to let HIM decide the best means for that to come about.

In short, we should not ask for gifts nor cling to them if given. Thus St. John’s teaching on Nada: Seek neither the *goods of earth *or the goods of heaven. By not seeking, we find.

And by all means, St. John would always counsel speaking to one’s director about any concern we have. We should never underestimate how quickly one’s fears and concerns will evaporate under the guidance of sound direction. The real shame would be letting those fears and concerns fester; robbing us of the very peace we should seek. :thumbsup:

Dave :slight_smile:

PS - The “pride” I’m referring to is the quiet interior satisfaction, sense of worthiness or of being set apart from others that often comes when spiritual gifts are given. It is a great harm in the interior life.


Thanks for clearing that up for me, Dave. I tend to be very open with my priest, yet at times I don’t know why. I often question myself, “why do I need the answers?”. I ask myself, am I clinging to past experience’s, bragging, or do I feel this gnawling to get it out. My priest says this “gnawling” should be addressed, though it comes and goes. I don’t think I could handle a gift of tongues as I would scrutinize it in my self for a long time. Tim




Really good posts, Dave and Luke. I definitely appreciated listening to this insight.

I’ve got to read St. John of the Cross’s writings at some point. I really have to. It sounds so good.


Well thank Luke specifically for bringing St. John of the Cross into the mix. Thanks Luke! :thumbsup:

St. John speaks of the Charasmatic gifts in Chapters 30-32 of Book 3 of “The Ascent of Mount Carmel.” Here’s a few tidbits of what he has to say:

On the positive side . . .

Though it is true these goods are also spiritual like the ones we must speak of later (other purifications of the will), yet I must draw a distinction because there is a considerable difference between them. The exercise of these gifts (charasmatic) immediately concerns the benefit of others, and God bestows them for that purpose, as St. Paul points out: The spirit is given to no one save for the benefit of others.

And . . .

People should rejoice, then, not in whether they possess and exercise these graces, but in whether they derive … spiritual benefit: Serving God through them with true charity, for in charity lies the fruit of eternal life.

Regarding the harms to the soul through misuse . . .

It seems to me that three chief kinds of harm follow from rejoicing in supernatural (charasmatic) goods: deceiving and being deceived; detriment in the soul with respect to faith; and vainglory or some vanity.

And . . .

…souls can err seriously because of possible attachment to them and imperfection in their regard, not using them with the perfection desired by God, at the time and in the manner he desires.

And . . .

Through these (scripture) passages we learn that the harm engendered by this joy comes not only from the wicked and perverse use of God’s graces . . . but even from performing them without God’s grace.

Regarding proper and improper use . . .

It is clear that in these cases those who were gifted were moved to perform their works at an inopportune time by some imperfect passion that was clothed in joy and esteem for these works. When this imperfection is not present, such persons decide to perform these works when and in the manner that God moves them to do so; until then they should not work them.

St. John concludes these passages with the following statement:

Those, then, who have this supernatural (charasmatic) gift should not desire or rejoice in its use, nor should the care about exercising it.

Hope this helps,


One night upon going to bed, Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich looked forward to receiving her (usually-daily) vision. But that night she received no vision. She then realized the gift of visions is not for mere entertainment as she thought of it that particular night.

It’s okay to ask God for spiritual favors; we do it every time we pray, no? But you must go about it humbly. And, besides, a spiritual gift is different than a spiritual favor. The spiritual favor is in God’s control; where He will apply the merit of your prayers, etc. The spiritual gift is given to a human. Though it can be healthily formed by God within that person given the obedience of that person, chances are that person would rejoice in it in a boast of pride. The reason so few spiritual gifts are dispensed to specific people is because it would go straight to their pride. Pride is a rampant sin and very few people demonstrate any semblance of control over it.

What’s the fastest mile run by a person these days? 3:41? While that may seem impressive to us, immeasurably more impressive is God Who can not only run faster than that, He made the ground that you’re running on! How can a piece of dust cannot compare?

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