Praying in the spirit: a psychiatrist’s report, and more...

This message is not directly about prophecy, but is indirectly, to help one find needed "edification" in this troubled world. Do you sometimes need edifying? If not, you are the only one on planet Earth. God has provided a way.


According to the Holy Spirit, speaking through the apostle Paul: "He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself…" (1 Corinthians 14:4).


The main purpose of this message is to pass along a report by a Christian psychiatrist of the physically edifying effects of praying in tongues. We always thought of the edification as only "spiritual" edification, which is great and always needed, but Christian psychiatrist Carl R. Peterson, M.D. describes physical edification also! Isn’t God amazing? I first heard about this for several months ago but was only recently able to obtain this documentation from Dr. Peterson’s office, which is below.


A word of caution. This manifestation of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, is ridiculed by some and called gibberish, or from the devil. Be careful. This is dangerous and might be considered blasphemy against the Holy One. Not a good idea, if you know what I mean. If anyone does that, you don’t want to be standing next to him in a thunderstorm.


As a matter of reference, I know a distinguished medical doctor who knows Dr. Peterson personally and has worked with him, and who says that Peterson is highly respected, as a psychiatrist and as a Christian.


NOTE: Dr. Peterson begins his attachment by specifically referring to "praying in the spirit" (glossolalia -- speaking in tongues), then begins to just use the words "prayer" or "praying." I am told that throughout his paper he is referring to speaking in tongues, as that is the context of the whole paper, and is as introduced by his letter.



Dear friend,


Thank you for your inquiry regarding the relationship of extended periods of praying in tongues and joyful laughter to brain activity. As you will read in the enclosed explanation, I shared some information concerning this with several ministers at a gathering some time ago. I pray this information will be helpful to you.



Carl R. Peterson, M.D.





I have had a number of inquiries concerning the efficacy of praying in the spirit (glossolalia) and its benefit to the human immune system, i.e., immunity enhanced by chemicals released from a part of the brain. I am attempting to clarify some information I have shared with a number of ministers. This is information that may be deduced from what we know about the way the brain functions. We do know the part of the brain affected most noticeably by extended prayer and laughter represents a significant portion of the brain and its metabolic activity. Therefore, voluntary speech during extended vocal prayer causes a major stimulation in these parts of the brain (mainly the hypothalamus). The hypothalamus has direct regulation of four major systems of the body, mainly: a) the pituitary gland and all target endocrine glands; b) the total immune system; c) the entire autonomic system; and d) the production of brain hormones called endorphins and enkephalons, which are chemicals the body produces and are 100-200 times more powerful than morphine.


In summary, a very significant percentage of the central nervous system is directly and indirectly activated in the process of extended verbal and musical prayer over a period of time. This results in a significant release of brain hormones which, in turn, increases the body’s general immunity. It is further enhanced through joyful laughter with increased respirations and oxygen intake to the brain, diaphragm and other muscles. This same phenomenon is seen in physical activity in general, i.e., running, etc.


We know from the Word of God that there is a true joy that builds and sustains. Nehemiah tells us the joy of the Lord is our strength. There is joy in the presence of Jehovah. We, as believers having entered into that wonderful presence of our Lord, know this to be true. What we must continue to remember is that the joy of the Lord spoken of in the Word is so much more than any manifestation. We can truly have that unspeakable joy in the face of any trials we may encounter, if our joy is grounded in a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.


I hope the above information helps to clarify the report you received regarding my statement in the area of the physical effects of speaking in tongues and joyful laughter for extended periods of time. Truly, we all benefit—body, soul, and spirit—from obedience and yielding to the Spirit of God in every area of our lives.


Carl R. Peterson, M.D.


Praying in the spirit: Part 2.


As mentioned in the first part, according to the Holy Spirit Himself, speaking through the apostle Paul: "He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself…" (1 Corinthians 14:4).


These comments may be helpful:


1. Those who oppose what the Scripture says about speaking in tongues usually omit many passages and focus only on the last half of the above verse, "but he who prophesies edifies the church," and are usually the same ones who say, "I want love, not the gifts." However, God says He wants us to have both! They are not mutually exclusive, but are mutually supportive. But the first half of the verse says a lot. Surely we want to edify the church, and there are other gifts to do that, but I have never met anyone who didn’t need personal edification. I do. We need both corporate and individual edification.


2. The Holy Spirit’s words in 1 Corinthians 14:4 above are no doubt related to His words in Jude 20: "Build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit." The "edifies" and "build up " in both verses are from the same root word in Greek and mean essentially the same. That is one reason many theologians believe the reference to praying in the Holy Spirit in Jude 20 is the same as praying in tongues, which Paul says is praying "with my spirit." He says, "I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind" (1 Corinthians 14:15). In verse 14, he says, "For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful." Also, "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" (14:2). (If "no one understands him," that proves it is a heavenly, not human, language.) Paul clearly differentiates between praying "mysteries" to God with the spirit and praying with the mind. So, when praying in tongues, the spirit is praying mysteries to God, the mind is unfruitful, and the one praying is edified. Most praying today is with the mind, which is needed, but maybe that is why many believers are so impotent. That is also probably why the Holy Spirit commands, "Do not forbid speaking in tongues" (14:39), a command violated in many churches and ministries today. Typically, where this command is honored and obeyed, believers are on fire for God, the supernatural gifts are in operation, miracles are seen, and people are being healed and delivered from demonic oppression. In other words, Jesus shows up in power through the simple faith and obedience of His people! People who try to reason the supernatural with their carnal minds instead of simply taking God at His Word make a big mistake, to the detriment of themselves and the church.


3. If God gave the "praying in tongues" that we might edify ourselves, some might try to argue that God is partial. That is because they claim 1 Corinthians 12:30 says that not everyone can speak in tongues. However, if one properly exegetes the many "tongues" passages, he will find that there are two uses or manifestations of tongues: (1) to speak a message to the Body in a corporate setting (1 Corinthians 12:10), which not all are gifted to do, but also (2) to pray individually in tongues, which anyone can do. One reason we believe anyone can do it is based on the fact that in the book of Acts, our model for the church, speaking in tongues was normative for believers. Most or all on whom the Holy Spirit fell began to speak in unknown languages (see Acts 2:4, 10:46, 19:6, and read each carefully). Another reason is that through Paul the Holy Spirit says, "I would like every one of you to speak in tongues" (1 Corinthians 14:5), clearly revealing God’s will. Both these manifestations of the Spirit continue widely to this day, as attested to worldwide.


How does one speak in tongues?


1. If God puts it in your heart to want to be able to speak a message in tongues to a congregation of believers, ask Him for the gift according to 1 Corinthians 14:31 and Mark 11:24, then step out in faith with it as the Holy Spirit leads. "He gives them to each one, just as he determines" (14:11), but ultimately, the manifestation of any gift comes by the believer stepping out in faith.


2. If you want to pray in a heavenly language, make sure you have been filled (baptized, or empowered – take your choice of words, various are used) with the Holy Spirit as were examples in the book of Acts. If you have, you qualify. If not, see below. A re-reading of the book of Acts, especially chapters 2, 10 and 19, will build your faith, as faith comes by hearing the Word.

Everything we receive from God is by faith. This includes salvation, the infilling of the Spirit, and all His promises, including healing. This also includes praying in a heavenly language. So, just do it! Just prayerfully open your mouth and -- by faith -- do it. Step out of the boat of tradition and religion, and like Peter, walk on the water of faith. Your carnal mind, the devil and some believers will tell you that you are making it up and that it is just gibberish, and like Peter (who began to sink), you may think, "This can’t be happening!" but God will honor your faith. It is between you and God and no one else. You will be "uttering mysteries" in the Spirit to God. It has happened to many millions all over the world in every country and culture, for "The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:39).




First, you must sincerely desire for God to fill you with Himself, which really means you must want God to totally have His way in your life. Because God is total love, total power and total wisdom, and He always has our best interest in mind, we all should want that. Anything else is irrational. Therefore, present every area of your life to God.


Second, confess to God any known sin in your life and by faith thank Him that He has forgiven your sins -- past present and future -- because Christ died for you. By faith claim His promise of forgiveness and cleansing according to 1 John 1:9.


Third, ask God to fill you with His Spirit. In a moment I will suggest a prayer. But remember, from Ephesians 5:18, which says, "be filled with the Spirit," we already know that it is His will for you. And we know that in 1 John 5:14-15, it says, " This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him." I repeat: it says, "…we KNOW that we HAVE (present tense) what we asked of him."


Fourth, remember that we always receive from God by faith, so receive this gift by faith, as an act of your will, and thank and praise God for answering your prayer and filling you with His Spirit.


Based on what God says about being filled with the Spirit, His COMMAND and His PROMISE to give you what you ask according to His will, here is a suggested prayer. If you agree with these words, pray them now, pray them to the Father, then believe, and you will receive.


Remember that in Mark 11:24 Jesus said, "I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."


Here is the suggested prayer:


"Dear Father, thank you for forgiving my sins because Jesus died on the cross for me. Thank you for offering the fullness of your Spirit to me. I desire to serve you and that you have full control over my life. As you commanded, I desire to be filled with your Spirit, so I know it is your will. And you said that if I ask anything according to your will, and if believe that I receive, then I can have what I ask for and it is mine. Therefore, in the name of your Son Jesus, I ask for the fullness and power of your Holy Spirit to come upon me right now. I receive Him by faith, right now. I now thank you for answering this prayer and filling me with your Holy Spirit. Now use me for your purposes and your glory. In Jesus' name. Amen."


Continue to worship and praise God. Praise Him and pray to Him in a heavenly language. You may or may not experience physical or emotional feelings. That is not important. It is not based on feelings but on faith. Feelings may come now or later. The gifts of the Spirit may begin to flow through you immediately, or later, also by faith.




After seeking the Lord and being a believer for many years, and as soon as I saw it in the Word in 1971, I was filled with the Holy Spirit – by faith -- based on God’s COMMAND in Ephesians 5:18, and His PROMISE in 1 John 5:14-15. It was a real experience. My life began to immediately change, and fruit of the Spirit began to be manifested. Plus, just as Jesus promised in Acts 1:8, I received power to witness and became bold in sharing the gospel.

However, it was a few months later before I learned that when this happened to people in the book of Acts, they also spoke with tongues (see references above), and there is no biblical reason why we should not experience the same thing. I examined all the arguments otherwise and found them empty, typically ignoring critical Scriptures. I decided I wanted all God had for me, and after extensive study of the Word and prayer, I, too, began to pray in a heavenly language – by faith. Some say at that time I received the "baptism" in the Holy Spirit, but all I know is that after that, even though my witness for Christ was unchanged, I began to experience the supernatural. I began to see healings, miracles, demonic deliverances, and the various manifestations of the Holy Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12. I also discovered that when such like-minded believers met and worshiped together, there was an intensity of praise to and exaltation of Jesus and awareness of His presence that I had not seen anywhere else. This "baptism" (what Jesus called it in Acts 1:5), came when I purposely walked through that new door of faith and began to pray in the spirit. It was like walking into a new spiritual dimension. God met me there at my point of faith. He will you too.


While it is possible for anyone to quench the Spirit, if you have received the fullness of the Spirit’s power, you can, BY FAITH (see Mark 16:15-18), do the following:


Have a fresh new power to witness for Christ.**


Cast out devils, just like in the New Testament.**


Speak in new tongues, just like in the book of Acts, and later with Paul.**


Lay hands on the sick and they shall recover, just like in the New Testament.**


Be a more open vessel to experience other gifts or manifestations of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12.


** Jesus said that, not me. If He said it, that settles it. Paul wrote,

"For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God" (2 Corinthians 1:20). An important point often overlooked in this verse is that in Christ all of God’s promises to us are "yes," but to obtain them, we must "amen," or agree with God and affirm them by faith. The word amen means "so be it." The Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon says, "The word (amen) is directly related -- in fact, almost identical -- to the Hebrew word for ‘believe’ (amam), or faithful. Thus, it came to mean ‘sure’ or ‘truly,’ an expression of absolute trust and confidence."


May God bless and empower you to be His most effective servant and channel of His love in these last days.