Smith Wigglesworth- The Difference Between Speaking In Tongues and the Gift of Tongues


One area that many believers get confused about is regarding speaking in tongues and the gift of tongues. We need to understand how they are different, why they are different, and their purposes.


We know that on the Day of Pentecost, they all began speaking in tongues when the Holy Spirit was poured out. In this case, they spoke in different languages but look at the outpouring at Cornelius’ house in Acts chapter ten.


“When Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the Word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out ion the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, ‘Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

Acts 10: 44-47


Peter was probably wondering if he should preach to the Gentiles, but when he saw the Holy Spirit move and fill these people as they received Jesus, he knew it was the Holy Spirit. He then calls to baptize the people, indicating it was a separate event. But how did Peter and his team know the people had received the Holy Spirit? They spoke with tongues.


Smith talking about the Holy Spirit, said-


I was yielded and yielded and yielded until I realized that I was simply clothed with another power altogether, and I realized that God had taken me-tongue, tongue, thoughts, and everything and I was not myself, but it was Christ working through me.”


In the Baptism, there is a wonderful place where when we yield to the Holy Spirit that He takes over our tongue and brings forth from it the perfect praise of our God.


Looking at the gifts of the Spirit as outlined in First Corinthians, chapter twelve, we discover


“But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”

1 Corinthians 12: 11


The gifts are not something we can produce or make happen but come only as the Holy Spirit wills. Regarding the gifts, Smith said-


“Do not seek the gifts unless you are purposed to abide in the Holy Spirit. They should be manifested only in the power of the Holy Spirit.”


If we seek to manufacture a gift by our flesh, we open ourselves up, and we can be found in a dangerous place. Paul had explained that the gifts, when operating under the power of the Holy Spirit, must declare the Lordship of Jesus. Our heart must always seek the Giver of the gifts and not the gifts. Regarding the gifts, Smith said-


“We must look to the Holy Spirit to show us the use of the gifts, what they are for, and when to use them, so that we may never use them without the power of the Holy Ghost. I do not know of anything which is so awful today as people using a gift without the power. Never do it. God save us from doing it.”


But is the gift of tongues the same as speaking in tongues?


Paul wrote-


“I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongues”

2 Corinthians 14: 18, 19


Regarding this, Smith explained-


“Now you can understand that he felt that he spoke more in tongues than they all, meaning to say that he lived in the utterances of the Spirit.”


There is speaking in tongues in which we are speaking to the Lord using our Heavenly language, and then there is the gift of tongues in which God speaks through us to others-


“To another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.”

1 Corinthians 12: 10


The gift of tongues must be followed with the interpretation of tongues (which is another gift). So the Lord speaks through one vessel by His Spirit, and then the message is revealed through the gift of interpretation of tongues. This is not praying to God in tongues but, as I said, the Lord speaking to men. If you look at the outpouring at Cornelius’ house, we see them speaking in tongues in worship and prayer, and there is no interpretation. Why? Because it is not for men but for God!


We are called to walk in the Spirit and, in this wonderful place, allow Him to pour prayer into us and bring it forth from us. When we don’t know what to pray but earnestly desire the Father’s perfect will, we can pray in tongues. Praying in tongues does not come with interpretation, as it is for the Father’s ears and not ours. Smith shared-


“And I went up and down Fleet Street and the Strand, lost in the Spirit, in tongues all the time. It was lovely. Yes, the world was filled with flesh- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life- but God had His child in the midst of the blazing worldly affairs, lost in the Spirit.”





The prayer language of tongues will build you up and strengthen you spiritually-


Jude explained-


“But you beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God…”

Jude 20


But when we come together as believers and have church, our focus should be on edifying one another. Smith said…


“You must remember this, that whatever you do when you are in the church of God, you have to seek to excel to the edifying of the Body of Christ.”



Remember, the gift is only given as the Holy Spirit wills, but speaking in tongues is the natural outflow of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when one is baptized in the Spirit. Our prayer language is a powerful tool which the Holy Spirit can use to intercede for us or others. Smith had a friend in Africa on a mission trip, and he didn’t know that they were seriously ill. Smith was stirred by the Spirit to pray for him. 


“As I prayed, I saw right into Africa, and I saw you laid our helpless, and to all appearances apparently dead. I prayed on, until the Spirit lifted me and I knew I was in victory, and I saw you had risen from that bed.”


The man recovered, and Smith asked for them to check their diaries to see when it happened, and surprise, surprise, it happened when Smith had been praying in the Spirit for him.


So your prayer language will build you up, and enable you to pray the perfect prayer to the Father, effectively intercede for others, and worship the Father. However, many walk in fear of receiving an evil spirit. But remember Jesus, the Master explained-


“If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he give him a scorpion? If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give you the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Luke 11: 10-13


Here Jesus, in the Sermon on the Plain, is talking about asking in prayer. He points out of we would not dare give our children something that would hurt them and or give them something alluding to giving an “evil spirit” in saying serpent or scorpion (symbols of the enemy). In then explains our perfect Heavenly Father will give us the perfect Gift, the Holy Spirit, if we will ask Him. We are to ask Him in faith, trusting He is good! Further, as I have stated-


“Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”

1 Corinthians 12: 3


Think about that! You can’t truly declare Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.


“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and truth.”

John 4: 23, 24




“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

Galatians 5: 25




“For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit, will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

Galatians 6: 8-9




“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit”

Ephesians 6: 18




As new creations, we walk according to a different order, the order of the Spirit, as Paul explained in Romans chapter eight. We must learn to walk sensitive to the Holy Spirit and hear and obey His voice.  Smith said-


“Live in the place where the Lord thy God moveth thee, not to go from house to house nor speak from person to person, but where the Lord directeth thee, for He has the person which is in need of truth waiting for watering with your water can.”


What a thought that if we will stay in the Spirit, and keep our spirits strong in the Lord, and listen to His voice, He will always have us in the right place at the right time.


Going back to tongues, Smith explained-


“This is very profound, because we understand that God is speaking. No man understands it. The Spirit is speaking and the Spirit opens the revelation that they shall have without adulteration God’s word flowing through the whole place.”


Tongues, whether the gift or our prayer language is, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through us. What an honor and privilege. Smith further added-


“Tongues are a wonderful display on this line: They are to revive the people, they are to give new depths of thought.”


Tongues should always build and strengthen. But Smith pointed out something that we must also understand. Many think they can speak in tongues and still walk in sin. This is not true. We must stand holy before the Lord, and if the Spirit of God is truly operating through us, His fruit should be manifested, and our lives must demonstrate an increase in holiness.


“If I do not judge myself, I shall be judged. It is not sufficient for me to have your good word. I must have the Master’s good word. It is no good to me that I should look good to you. If there were one thing between me and God, I dare not come onto this platform without I know that God has made me holy ‘for they bear the vessels of the Lord must be holy unto the Lord.’ And I praise God because I know”

His blood can make the vilest clean. His blood can make the vilest clean, His blood avails for me, His blood avails for me. Holiness! Whiteness! Purity! Zeal!