Hi Michael,I went through the same thing as you describe many years ago. I had been prayed over for the gift of the Spirit and the laying on of hands and tried unsucessfully over and over and nothing would happen until people started suggesting that I must have sin in my life. I was so sorroful and defeated and discouraged for many days. My biggest proplem was that I had been led to believe that it was something that would sort of take me over and be nearly "involuntary". But I learned that God seldom does things like that but rather it is still a matter of your will and faith. Turns out I had it already from the first time I asked for it and had the laying on of hands I just needed to step out in faith and act upon it long enough for the Holy Spirit to join me and "come along side" as His name implies He does and help me to pray.Here is an excerpt from something I wrote about this for a book I wrote (that isn't published) but maybe this can help.
I learned that there were two different types of tongues gifts. One was for personal edification and one was for the edification of the whole body. The first, being the more common, was for the individual to practice wherever he was, alone, between himself and God. The second kind was for the church assembly and was less common and was meant for the whole church during a service.
Finally, I became convinced that it really was from God and was a good thing, and I decided I wanted it for myself. I wanted all that God had for His people and if this was something that would help me, then why should I miss out on it? So I began to ask about it to anyone who I knew that already was able to do it. It was still very mysterious to me but I felt like I was only half complete as a Christian until I could move in that area too.
I was receiving all kinds of advice and encouragement and finally prayer, with the laying on of hands to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, but no change would come over me and I was beginning to feel that there was something wrong with me. So did the people that were praying for me. Some of them said that maybe there was some unconfessed sin in my life that was blocking it. Others said that I got it but the timing was up to God when to release it. I was really feeling down about this and wondered if God didn’t like me anymore or what?
I was so bummed out about this. I prayed and prayed but nothing was happening.
Finally, one day, I was at work at the ranch, and I was whitewashing this long wooden split rail fence that ran both sides of the length of the long driveway into the ranch from the main road. This paint job went on for many days and provided me with lots of time alone with God. So, I was able to just get serious with Him and ask Him why I can’t pray in tongues.
You know what He told me? He said that I did in fact already have the gift. But that it was up to me to step out in faith and believe that I had it, and act on it. He said that it was a lot like how you get saved in the first place. God doesn’t force Himself on you. You must invite Him in and then He comes in and begins to transform you from the inside but never without your consent. So I already had the gift of the Holy Spirit from the first time that I had hands laid on me and asked for it. Where I went wrong was that I was expecting tongues to just start coming out of my mouth by themselves. I heard that some people have had that happen. He said that He wanted me to just start praying as if I knew how, in a language that I had never spoken before. I said,
“How do I do that? I don’t know how”… But I wanted to so bad, that finally about half way through the day, painting that fence, I decided to give it a try. It wasn’t a very sincere try because even with no one around to hear me, I felt very foolish making up a language. So I was actually sort of being a baby about it and saying,
“Okay, God, here goes… but this is ridiculous. You mean, I’m just supposed to say stuff like:
Oonky boonky shalla ma doonky… Hount talla shount a mounsecha jallound tralle fillop wendistillo vishnoputrilla…..” (I’m giving my spell checker fits…)
Wait a second – was I doing it? So I tried it again and this time it was even better. It really started to come out faster than I could try and make it up. I was just kidding at first. I really thought that I was just making up nonsense. I may have continued like that for five maybe ten minutes or more and as I did, my nonsense started to take on a life of its own. I knew that this was not just me. I was so happy I couldn’t believe it. I got tears in my eyes. I had it all along. I prayed in tongues the whole rest of that day. Then that night I had to go to San Diego for something about 30 miles away one way, and I prayed in tongues the whole way there and back. I was exhilarated. Now I knew what “being filled with the Spirit” meant. I understood what Paul meant when he said, “Be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.” Because, this feeling was like being drunk, only you didn’t get stupid, you actually got really smart. I kept praying for days on end and found it amazing. There was so much happening because of it. I knew things in my spirit without knowing how I knew them. I found that wisdom was just in me because of it.
That, by the way, was one evidence that I had seen in Sherri that I knew was genuine. She knew things about people, including me, that there was no way she could have figured out on her own. She said it was because of her praying in tongues that God was telling her things. That it establishes an open line of communication between you and God where you never have to walk in darkness about anything that God wants to tell you.
John 11:9. Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
10. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
John 8:12. Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
There’s a whole theology behind tongues that I don’t have time to go into here. It would take a whole book probably to do it justice. But in a brief nut shell, what is happening, is God basically made a deal with us. He said that if we would surrender our most unruly member of our body, our tongue, to Him, then He would help us to pray, with the Holy Ghost supplying the prayer, in a language that we don’t understand, but God does.
1 Corinthians 14:2. For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
We would be asking God, according to His perfect will for our lives, to give us what we need. Since we do not know how to pray as we ought, He prays for us. And God is able to answer 100 % of those prayers because they are not amiss, like so many of our own prayers are. Paul explains all about this in 1 Corinthians chapter 14. The Holy Spirit knows what the plan of God is for our life that we have gotten off of, and so He is able to see where we need to be, and He asks the Father, using our own tongue, to please give us the teaching and understanding that we need, as well as change our heart’s desires so that they line up with God’s perfect will for our lives. Those kind of prayers, God is of course going to immediately answer. So you very quickly begin to feel something wonderful happening to you. After you have done it enough, your own needs become altogether met and you are then free to start interceding for others by using the same prayer language.
Everything that I have just described to you is a summery of the teaching that one man named Dave Roberson has had as his life’s message from God to the church of today. I had attended a meeting that Dave was teaching at, many years ago and though at the time, he had tables full of different teachings on cassette albums for all kinds of subjects, this was the one that I wanted. It was called, “The Keys To The Mysteries Of God” Then all these years later, I decided to do a search for him on the Internet, and I discovered that more than any other subject, this was the subject that he has made his life’s message. He has available a book online that I highly recommend on this subject. It will explain all about what tongues is and what is happening when we pray that way. You will find it at