How I learned to speak in tongues, and then never do it again. The Conclusion

After that night I would speak in tongues often. I could conjure up this heavenly language in a heartbeat. I would start praying “I love you father- you are so perfect and good, you are the shunda-ra-saka- to-to-to…” and off I went. It was a seamless transition between my worldly, untamed tongue into my redeemed, holy tongue.

When I was at home, on the bus, in line at the supermarket- everywhere. My pastor told me a story of man who went and visited a pastor in Africa. The man greeted him and they spent several days together. While the pastor was friendly and conversant, the man noticed that whenever he wasn’t speaking out loud, his lips would always be moving- all throughout the day. Finally the man asked the pastor what he was doing, and the pastor replied that every second of every day that he wasn’t talking to people he was speaking in tongues quietly and talking to God.

That story resonated with me and that’s who I wanted to be. I wanted to be that kind of person and for a while, maybe a few weeks, I felt like I was living it. It was a beautiful month. On one level, in one particular way, it was the nearest I ever “felt” to God. So many burdens lifted- so many of the old aches, scars, and spiritual cigarette burns began to heal and clear up.  I began to engage with the Church again. Whereas before I was sullen and quiet in worship, now I was bouncing up in down on my feet in the front row- hands raised high. In fact, I even grabbed a flag from the bin up front and started waving it until my arms were spent, speaking in tongues between sets, the first and only time I have ever done that. I would participate in fire tunnels and when it was my turn to pray and prophecy, I would speak in tongues and people I touched would fall to the floor. It was a sacred and awesome power.  I witnessed and shared my faith more, speaking in tongues before and after the encounters.  I began going to all night prayer meetings [From 8pm to 8am] because I knew that I could just sit in a corner and speak in tongues and the time would fly as I connected to God, blessed by these charisms that he had bestowed upon me.

Most importantly though, I felt saved. I felt like a child of God. I didn’t feel like a disappointment to him and in that period I was able to “forgive God” for how I felt deserted and unloved because he never spoke to me. It was, as I look back, a fragment of my life that was wholly unique.

But slowly things started to shift. I realized after a few weeks that the elated feelings began to fade and that the high I was riding was beginning to level out. I thought that If I was speaking directly to God in a language that only him and I understood, that surely that would be more than sufficient to keep me in a state of peace and worship-that I wouldn’t experience the emotional and spiritual lows and highs, but rather would always be high. And yet here I was, falling….falling….falling.

Coupled with this is that I realized that my tongues-vocabulary wasn’t very big. I mean, I would essentially say the same 20 words over and over again, just in different arrangements and sequences. I brought this to the attention of my pastor and he told me that even though I was saying “shundara” over and over again, that because it was a private prayer language,  each time I said it it meant something different.  And so even though it sounded to me like I was saying the same phrase repeatedly, in reality I was not, and in fact was saying all sorts of things in the spiritual realm.

I also found myself praying and speaking in tongues, running through a favorite phrase at breakneck speed, when suddenly I was at a loss for words.  It was a jarring stopgap that yanked me out of the heavenly places. Silence would interrupt me and I would have to think for a moment about what I wanted to say next, and then resume where I left off.

This whole process continued for a year, a slow decline into uncertainty and uncomfortable realities. I could still speak in tongues, but it had none of the energy, vitality, and rush that it had once brought me. While speaking in these tongues brought me a small comfort, in some ways I began to grow disillusioned with them because they seemed more forced as time went on, and none of that emotional spark was there. I didn’t feel like I was talking with God in a private prayer language- it just felt like I was saying “shundara” a lot, over and over, without that connection to something deeper and more profound.

[Note, I'm skipping tons of story here which relates to this, but long story short, I began to realize that much of the teaching from the pulpit was deceptive in nature and was more imaginative than biblical.  I was becoming increasingly alarmed at some of the things that the Pastor said and taught which I believe did not line up with the scriptures. I began to learn enough about basic theology to know that not all was well. I left the Church I had been attending for years, after a showdown in the sanctuary with my Pastor over something he said that I found intolerable. Very shortly after this, I moved up here to Fort McMurray.]

I arrived here a bruised and battered reed. I felt lied to, betrayed, burned, and keenly aware of my own ignorance.  I felt far from God and felt like I really didn’t know him- that I only knew him emotionally and experimentally, but not intellectually or theologically. I knew how he made me felt during worship, but not how my worship meant to him. I eventually began working the night shift at a local retail store stocking shelves. The job was simple enough and so to pass the time, I would load my iPod pass the time. I would scour iTunes and the internet and would load up hundreds of hours of sermons at a time and would play them all night. It didn’t matter who it was- I didn’t know who was good or bad, who was sound or unsound. I listened to everyone across the spectrum, from seeker sensitive pastors to independent fundamental baptists,usually  for fours hours a night. The other four hours I would listen to the audio version of the Bible. I did this for 4 years. Sometimes I would listen to the Bible for the whole week, about 36 hours. Other times I would load up Lutheran homilies, which are about 15-20 minutes each, and would listen to 5 years of that pastors sermons in a matter of days. Other times I would load up lecture series from Christian universities and would listen to 25 lectures on “Christian life in the 8th century” or 18 lectures on”Reformed apologetics”. Still other times I said to myself “I want to listen to the Book of Galatians today” and then loop it for the next 6 hours.

I listened to thousands upon thousands of Bible and sermons in this time frame, and it didn’t take long for my life to change. As it relates to this story, I very quickly began to gravitate toward reformed preachers and teachers. Men like John Piper. John Macarthur. Matt Chandler. R.C Sproul. James White. Ligon Duncan and D.A Carson. These were men whose sermons most closely reflected what I was hearing from the Bible. It seemed they took it extremely serious, and took the greatest pains to exegete the texts rather than prooftexts to score points. That’s what really stuck out to me. And these were men who, to varying degrees, did not believe that the gift of tongues was active and present today. That they were mostly all cessasionists and were able to argue and articulate why that biblically is was incredibly disturbing and challenging for me. In fact, early on I was outright hostile to this part of their beliefs, believing them pretty knowledgeable on most things, but definitely missing it on this one. This was a difficult spot to be in. These were my heroes, and yet they were saying that what I was experiencing was not legitimate.

I began to do research, and as I had in this time developed the ability to study and exegete the biblical texts, found their argumentation extremely compelling. I did my own research and poured over tomes and ancient primary sources,  fervently researching and investigating the glossolaia. I listened to the best defenses and argumentation for speaking in tongues, desperately wanting them to offer an excellent refutation and positive presentation of why biblically they were still for today.

What I found crushed me. My speaking in tongues side, from my perspective, had nothing to offer. They were re-soundly refuted. The arguments that I used to regurgitate for speaking in tongues seemed to me all of a sudden silly and a little bit embarrassing. I understood what tongues were in the Bible, in that time frame, and how it  vastly different than how its practiced now. In short, I became convinced from the biblical evidence that speaking in tongues was an early Christian phenomena that was unique to that period and was not in play today. It was a painful time of self-examination and self-doubt, as I desperately tried to search my heart and figure out what was going on, and how had I gotten there.

And so what was my experience? Some people say its either demonic. Others say it’s emotional hysteria and gibber-jabber. I look back at myself, all my friends and my entire former Church, many of whom spoke in tongues, and I don’t believe it was demonic. Was I caught up in the moment and due to emotional manipulation worked myself up to the point where it burst forth? Was it a psychosomatic reflex- my body birthing what my mind wanted so badly? I don’t know. In retrospect  I can see how maybe that initial gift of tongues may have been bought about by a heightened emotional state, but afterwards? On the bus? At work? Was I that self-deceived? I have come to terms with the fact that I probably was a learned behavior. I think I was encouraged to produce sounds which my brain could then take hold of in an unconscious way and create strings of syllables to speak forth, and once I learned how to do that I was able to keep it up.  I think that might account for the riffs and improvisations that I tended to use. I think that’s probably about it.

The point is this. I became convinced that it was not for today, and because I am committed to binding my conscience to the word of God, I’ve stopped speaking in them. It was an achingly hard thing to do- when everything in your experience tells you that its good, and in fact you can start speaking them right then and there- to have to take that and say “regardless of what my feelings, desires and experiences tells me, I have a higher authority and I must be obedient to it.”

Its been about six years now since I’ve spoken in tongues, and I have no plans to every try to speak in them again. In the years since any and all desire to speak in them has pretty much waned and dissipated. I don’t think of them as a private prayer language that I let go cold and die from disuse, but rather as a childish thing from another life that I’ve shrugged off and have been set free from.

22 thoughts on “How I learned to speak in tongues, and then never do it again. The Conclusion

  1. I appreciate you sharing your story, Dustin. I have to admit though, that I don’t really understand what the argument is. That is, what is the evidence for what you’re claiming? You kind of skipped over that part. “They were re-soundly refuted.” – what’s the refutation? A really interesting and compelling story from a personal perspective–I’m just really curious about the argument itself.

    • Welcome to the combox, NJ. :) , I’m not making an argument here. The purpose was not to say what specifically convinced me, and what biblical arguments swayed me, but rather to simply state that I was persuaded from the scriptures, and that that revelation was enough to reexamine and reevaluate not only a belief, but rather a personal experience that was close to me. I had to surmise that even though I didn’t feel like i was being deceived or that it was a learned behavior, that it must have my necessity been one.

      • Okay…although I think you actually are making an argument! :o) Anyway, that aside, I do understand where you’re coming from. I, too, used to speak in tongues. I’ve grown much since then, and I now think that the whole speaking in tongues thing (as well as many other manifestations of religion) have much more to do with conformity than they do with spirituality. I have also come to find that the best form of prayer is silence. As with most circumstances, we are usually much better off when we listen rather than talk.

  2. Thanks for sharing Dustin. It’s so nice to see someone I’ve always looked up to speak the truth. When we want truth, there is no better place to start than the bible. I agree it’s hard to let go of all emotions/experiences that you had for years, where you totally thought you were as close to God as you could be. And then only to find out in great disappointment that you weren’t. It takes extreme re-learning and starting over to reach a spot where you can finally believe that you and God are on the same page. It’s sad though because (we) put all our energy and effort into having this big devotion to God, so much that (we) will do anything..even getting out of our comfort zone and stuff because (we) thought that’s what God wanted.
    Thanks for boldly sharing. ;)

  3. Wow, I am very blessed by the honesty and humility of your post. Thank you for sharing your story. It is amazing that the study of scripture will change our life and our opinions. God truly does reveal himself to us if we seek him. I cam out of some very flawed theology myself, and I too found that by reading the word,and listening to christian sermons, that things became very clear to me. It was interesting when you explained about the pastor trying to slay everyone in the spirit. When I was in high school I went to the state fair, and was “hypnotized.” Many of the people on stage where asked to leave because they were not hypnotized so only a few of us remained. I know I can speak for all of us that were “really hypnotized” in saying that we were not really controlled by what the hypnotist said. We acted because it was what we were supposed to do. A few years later a hypnotist came to my school and several kids were pulled onto the stage. I told a few of them afterwords that I had been hypnotized once, and they looked at me and whispered under their breath, “Then you know?” It seems like a lot of the pentecostal movement uses this same concept. At least it sounds very similar to what we experienced.

  4. Dustin, it seems that the real issue for you is whether or not Scripture validates “that the gift of tongues was active and present today.” I too have a lot of time and respect for many of the authors that you’ve mentioned. They are very godly men and well respected exegetes / theologians. However, as you stated, they are mostly all Cessationists; and as is true of all of us, our hermeneutics influence how we read texts. Gordon Fee rightly outlines the interplay of hermeneutics and tradition in Richard Gaffin’s “Perspectives on Pentecost”. Fee’s critique of Gaffin’s methodology demonstrates how sound principles of exegesis are circumvented in order to arrive at a pre-determined conclusion to the question of the cessation of tongues in 1 Cor 13:10; one that not surprisingly accords with his Cessationist tradition.

    Since you favourably mentioned John Piper, perhaps a reflection on some of his thoughts might be appropriate:

    “I am one of those Baptist General Conference people who believes that “signs and wonders” and all the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 are valid for today and should be “earnestly desired” (1 Corinthians 14:1) for the edification of the church and the spread of the Gospel. I agree with the words of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, preached in 1965:

    “It is perfectly clear that in New Testament times, the gospel was authenticated in this way by signs, wonders, and miracles of various characters and descriptions . . . . Was it only meant to be true of the early church? . . . The Scriptures never anywhere say that these things were only temporary — never! There is no such statement anywhere.” (The Sovereign Spirit, pp. 31-32)

    . . . I want to argue in this section that the New Testament teaches that spiritual gifts (including the more obviously supernatural or revelatory ones like prophecy and tongues) will continue until Jesus comes. The use of such gifts (miracles, faith, healings, prophecy, etc.) give rise to what may sometimes be called “signs and wonders.” Therefore, signs and wonders are part of the blessing we should pray for today.

    There is no text in the New Testament that teaches the cessation of these gifts. But more important than this silence is the text that explicitly teaches their continuance until Jesus comes, namely, 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 . . . .

    . . . Both of these phrases (“seeing face to face” and “understanding as we have been understood”) are stretched beyond the breaking point if we say that they refer to the closing of the New Testament canon or the close of the apostolic age. Rather, they refer to our experience at the second coming of Jesus . . . .

    This means that verse 10 can be paraphrased, “When Christ returns, the imperfect will pass away.” And since “the imperfect” refers to spiritual gifts like prophecy and knowledge and tongues, we may paraphrase further, “When Christ returns, then prophecy and knowledge and tongues will pass away” . . . .

    Therefore, 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 teaches that such spiritual gifts will continue until the second coming of Jesus. There is no reason to exclude from this conclusion the other “imperfect” gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. Since these include miracles, faith, healings, etc., with which we associate “signs and wonders,” there is clear New Testament warrant for expecting that “signs and wonders” will continue until Jesus comes.

    Now add to this conclusion the forthright command in 1 Corinthians 14:1, and you will see why some of us are not only open to, but also seeking, this greater fullness of God’s power today. This command says, “Make love your aim, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” And it is repeated twice: “Earnestly desire the higher gifts” (12:31); “Earnestly desire to prophesy and do not forbid speaking in tongues” (14:39).

    I wonder how many of us have said for years that we are open to God’s moving in spiritual gifts, but have been disobedient to this command to earnestly desire them, especially prophecy? I would ask all of us: are we so sure of our hermeneutical procedure for diminishing the gifts that we would risk walking in disobedience to a plain command of Scripture? “Earnestly desire spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.”

    These quotes were sourced from the following link:

  5. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this and other articles on this website. Bless you all and keep love at the centre of all you write and the kingdom will continue to be built.
    Jamie your post resonates with me and i find it balanced and sensible.

  6. I have read several articles on your web site and I was glad to see your faith and love of our Lord. In all your searches and with your keen integrity, have you ever dug into Traditional Catholicism? I think you would find there many treasures. But read nothing that was written after about 1920. Thanks for all your careful and earnest thoughts.

  7. Hi Dustin,
    I feel that what you wrote is actually true, whereby “I was becoming increasingly alarmed at some of the things that the Pastor said and taught which I believe did not line up with the scriptures.” and “I began to realize that much of the teaching from the pulpit was deceptive in nature and was more imaginative than biblical.”
    Well, I guess we’re on the same boat. I started joining church since I was 10. I attended church for about 5 to 6 years. And during these years, I changed different churches due to location wise and thinking that every church should have the same teachings since the pastors there preached according to what is written on the bible. However, I was totally appalled when the teachings from one church differs from another, especially when everyone was falling after the pastor touched their heads, I did not fall and my church leader actually whispered in my ears saying “just close your eyes, relax and fall”. I was awkward at that time but I had to act and “fall”. Another incident would be the speaking of tongues. My church leader actually taught me how speak in tongues, word by word (can you believe it?).
    I’ve search online of people who did research regarding religion beliefs,(I know it might be disturbing to other people) and people have found that over the years that the bible have been manipulated and constructed into different versions where humans interpreted it wrongly. For example, I have no clue about your area but the people in my area here eats pork (pig). and… there is a verse in the bible that actually prohibits the eating of pigs (I forgot which verse is it).
    But nevertheless, I’m still happy and glad we are still believers of God.

    • First, let me start off by saying ” We are not under the law, but under grace” – Creflo Dollar(great preacher). This means that we do not have to follow all the laws in the bible, but call upon God. The law is like a mirror; it can show us what is wrong, but can’t fix it. The law was made so people could find The Lord, but now that Jesus has died on the cross, he made a new covenant, which says we don’t have to do anything. I think that your experience of church is one that you should have stayed away from after you saw these things as God is alive and well even to this day. Because of this, we should seek real experiences with God, not people telling us to do thugs that God will do, such as giving you the gift of tongues or falling down after brig prayed for. I don’t think that pastor was a real man of God, so, yeah. I think that tongues are alive and well even to this day because what is the point of having stuff in the Bible and saying that only people in the Bible can have this gift.

  8. Thank you so much guys for sharing such things. My friends and I were actually having a debate about speaking in tongues. I did not believe in speaking in tongues before but after yesterday and reading what you guys have wrote and also reading the Scriptures, I think that speaking in tongues is something we should not rush to criticize if we do not have full knowledge of it. Reading a few articles by the people we honour in our communities is not sufficient because as Christians we should be guided by the Word of God and not the opinions of others. If we want to grow in Christ, there is only one way of doing it and that is to read our Bibles.

    Jamie, thank you so much for guiding your argument by the Scripture and not your experiences. If we are true Christian we should “eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy” because that is what the Bible (the book of life that guides us as Christians) says.

    We should not be rebellious when it comes to the things of Christ my dear friends… If we seek the truth and God opens our eyes it does not make sense then to refuse to accept what we have asked God to enlighten us with.

    Stay blessed :)

  9. My experience was similar. But it took years for me to overcome the fear of talking about it; now I debate with Pentecostals about it online. Briefly, my points concern how different the modern phenomenon is to the Biblical tongues: (1) It is taught today, but originally untaught – “as the Spirit gave utterance.” (2) Today it’s repetitive gibberish like baby talk, but originally it was real languages that someone understood – Acts 2 and 10:47 “just like us” i.e. subsequent disciples spoke real language tongues just like they did at Pentecost. (3) usage appears only for ‘self-edification’ that is, it appears to only have use for strengthening faith in the practice, it mostly doesn’t have any use in edifying the churches (related to the wide usage that is contrary to Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor). (4) many non-Christians have similar practice. (5) Thorough evaluation of it is resisted or prohibited among those who practice it. There a few more minor points I make, in addition to Heb. 2:4 indicates that the writer did not perform any of the miracles of the original apostles – this is one of the strongest arguments for cessationists, including the fact that a synod refuted the Montanist movement by claiming those gifts had already ceased (by the 2nd century). I have no doubt that God can still do the same things today, I simply doubt that in my 20 years experience among Pentecostals and Charismatics that I heard a single authentic tongue spoken.

    • About speaking in tongues, it’s not just about edifying yourself, it’s also that you are speaking the PERFECT will of God himself. Just giving you a little thought to consider 😃

  10. I loved your post. I could relate to so much of your story and respect your passionate pursuit of Christ. I was at one time a cessationist, listening to MacArthur until I was ‘rebuking’ a Pentecostal pastor. I was 19 and in the process of sharing why she was wrong when she cast out a “spirit of judgement” in me. I lost FULL control of my mouth for a minute. It startled me and I began to shake/cry and praise God. I didn’t talk about this openly for years. It’s never happened again but has always made me realize that God is way bigger than I understand.

    I’ve listened to every Chandler sermon he has every preached at TVC since 2003 (aside from the last months) and can confirm that his theological stance allows for tongues as do all of the other “neo-Calvinists.” Check out their doctrine sections. God bless you in your passionate pursuit of truth, brother.

  11. really interesting – I still speak in tongues very rarely but don’t really know why, it never seems to make a difference to my “normal” prayers in terms of hearing God (which do a pretty good job on that score anyway…) But I wonder if there is a demonic speaking in tongues? Like you, I tend to rest on the same mixture of 20 or so syllables, reorganized, and just wonderin’ what your “shandara” repetition is actually saying – otherwise why wouldn’t our brain come up with a vast variety of babblings? Is there more than meets the eye in these vain repetition/pagan babblings that Jesus spoke of? ie a pagan practise that gentiles have been under the authority of since deut 32, division of the nations under fallen angels whilst God apportioned Himself just one nation to rule over, Israel?Hope I’ve made myself clear…?

  12. I just finished listening to Curry Blake’s “Diversities of Tongues” series, and it delves deep into the Word analyzing what they are, what they’re for, when are they not appropriate, and are they for today. Curry also tells testimony after testimony of how the awesome power of God is released through them even today. On a side note, be careful following any teacher who limits the power of God (e.g. any cessationist). Here’s a link to Curry’s series:

  13. I’m so sorry that you feel this way… satan is a liar and he doesn’t want you to be filled with the Holy Spirit or for you to be able to obey the prompting a of God. Satan wants to fill you with doubt and self-consciousness so that you will lose faith and he can subsequently hinder your ability to do God’s work with the fullness of the power God bestows upon you. You are not supposed to “lean on your own understanding.” If you are filled with the Holy Spirit then how can evil or demonic tongues possibly come out of the same being? Hot and cold water cannot come from the same tap.

    Tongues is supposed to flow freely from you when the Holy Spirit prompts it. It is something that can only be don’t in the Spirit. No where in the bible does it say that the signs and wonders of the early Church were temporary.
    I will pray that the bondage of doubt and web of lies that Satan succeeded to “teach” to you will be loosed!!!

  14. I would appreciate if someone showed me an example from the Bible where a believer touches someone’s head and then that person falls down. No such thing exists in the Bible, so that’s another reason to believe that the tongues as described here, are demonic.

    • I know Benny Hune does that, but he is a freak, I also watched a preacher do his thing on tithing, and he just loved telling his audience how rich he was, what he owned, etc. he banked it all on tithing and tithing to his church. He kept proclaiming that “tonite is the nite your break thru is happening” People were thrilled of course, and I watched thousands of people bring money to the stage, and this idiot was picking it up and had workers picking it up. He also said “I bet we’ve got over a million dollars here” and probably did get that. He also was touching people and they would just fall down. These people are freaks, why people fall down is a myistry to me. people just want to believe these type of preachers so much, maybe that’s why they fall down. The only one getting rich was this freak. I’ve never seen it in the bible either.

  15. Praise the Lord bro,i read ur testimony and i could make out that u started with faith and ended up with what people saying,i would like to encourage u to start praying in tongues once again bcoz it is from God,plz read mark16 last verses of the chapter where Jesus made that clear abt the signs of believersi.e speaking in tongues is one of them.u urself have have experienced that ppl falling on the floor when u touched them and prayed in is clear that God was manifesting his power in are for today as well,jesus Christ is same yesterday today and tomo forever,don’t listen to sermons which are not aligned with the word bcoz that will take away ur faith,listen to joseph prince sermons and go thru divinerevelations.irg website it will increase ur faith.waiting for ur reply and pray for u

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