Tongues as our personal prayer language has many, many benefits. (See Parts 6-1 and 6-2) But speaking in tongues in front of a congregation will have no benefits unless there is someone there who can interpret. That is why the Apostle Paul says that we should desire to prophesy, speak words that others can understand, or we should pray to be able to interpret. Here are Paul’s instructions regarding this matter. These scriptures are from the Revised Standard Bible Version.
I Corinthians 14: 1-5 — Make love your aim, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, he who prophesies speaks to men for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than he who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.
I Corinthians 14:13 — Therefore, he who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret.
1 Corinthians 14:15 — What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
I Corinthians 14:18-19 — I thank God that I speak in tongues more than you all; nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.
I Corinthians 14:26-28 — What then, brethren? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silence in church and speak to himself and to God.
I Corinthians 14:39-40 — So my brethern, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues; but all things should be done decently and in order.
DLH – 2005