What does 1 Corinthians 14:15 mean?
ESV: What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.
NIV: So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.
NASB: What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit, but I will sing with the mind also.
CSB: What then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with my understanding. I will sing praise with the spirit, and I will also sing praise with my understanding.
NLT: Well then, what shall I do? I will pray in the spirit, and I will also pray in words I understand. I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing in words I understand.
KJV: 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.
Verse Commentary:
Those with the spiritual gift of tongues should not exercise that gift in the church service without someone available to interpret (1 Corinthians 14:6–14). If nobody knows what is being said, nobody will benefit from hearing the speaker. That's why those with the ability to speak in tongues should ask God to give them the gift of interpretation, as well. Otherwise, they will be limited to using their gift of tongues only in prayer to God, who will understand what they are saying even if they do not.

Paul is not saying that praying to God in such a way is worthless, only that it doesn't involve the mind. That person's personal spirit alone is involved in speaking with God.

In Romans 8:26–27, Paul pictures prayer as communication between the spirit of a person and God, by way of God's Holy Spirit. In that passage, he shows that words are not always necessary. Here, though, he clearly expresses that being mentally engaged in prayer is better. This requires a person to understand what he or she is saying. Otherwise, the mind will not be involved.

Paul declares that he will not pray without the use of his mind. He will pray to God with both his own spirit and his mind. Singing praise songs is another kind of prayer. They are directed to God. Paul declares that he will sing praise to God with both spirit and mind, as well.

In order to accomplish this, Paul will only pray and sing with words he understands. If in a church service, he will only pray in tongues if he—or someone else—is able to interpret what is being said. Otherwise, the mind will be left out of the process.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 14:1–25 describes why the gift of prophecy is superior to the gift of tongues in church services, especially when nobody with the gift of interpreting tongues is available. Prophecy benefits everyone in the room with a revelation from God. Praying in a tongue, when nobody can interpret, only benefits the one praying. In fact, displaying the gift of tongues without interpretation may do more harm than good—it generates confusion and division. In contrast, the use of prophecy provides the opportunity for unbelievers to hear from God, be convicted about sin, and come to faith in Christ and genuine worship.
Chapter Summary:
Paul encourages the Corinthians to desire the gift of prophecy, especially, among the other gifts. He shows why its use in the church service is superior to the use of the gift of tongues if nobody is available to interpret. Prophecy benefits everyone; praying in tongues with nobody to interpret benefits only the speaker. Only two or three tongues-speakers should contribute to any service, and only then one at a time and followed by interpreters. The same applies to prophecy and the gift of discerning spirits. Orderliness and building up the church are guiding principles for any worship meeting. Modern churches are divided on the extent to who which these gifts are given, or should be practiced.
Chapter Context:
1 Corinthians 14 concludes Paul's teaching on the spiritual gifts begun in chapter 12. Between them, chapter 13 declared that Christlike love matters most of all. The gift of prophecy is better than the display of the gift of tongues in worship services unless someone with the gift of interpreting tongues is available. Even then, only those things which build up the church should be included in any service, and everything should be done in an orderly way, reflecting the character of God. The final two chapters of this letter discuss the resurrection of Christ and Paul's concluding remarks.
Book Summary:
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
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