Praying in tongues involves uttering repetitive sounds, often resembling the speaker's native language, that is said to promote spiritual communication with God. Many Christians, especially Pentecostals, believe that praying in tongues is a sacred gift from God that cannot be consciously controlled and occurs through direct spiritual engagement.
There are different types of praying in tongues, one of which is kataphatic prayer, in which the speaker focuses on thoughts from Scripture through the eye of the imagination. Another method is apophatic prayer, which involves a meditative practice of moving the attention from mundane concerns to spiritual and devotional focus on the divine.
The language spoken when praying in tongues may not be comprehended by the speaker and sound meaningless, yet Christians who engage in the practice typically believe that God understands the uttered words. Rather than saying prayers by rote recitation, praying in tongues is thought to be effective in speaking directly to God and to promote wisdom and divine healing.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote about praying in tongues. Other passages in the Bible also refer to speaking in tongues. However, many Christians consider it a strange and unnecessary practice and do not engage in this form of prayer. Some Christians who pray in tongues are stigmatized by the controversial practice.