This is another topic that seems to find its way on the debate list. The one thing that is for sure is God confirms his word with signs and wonders. The only way to know this for sure is to actually see the power of God in action and get answers.
Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.7) And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8) And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Acts 2:6-8 KJV
God is amazing. Only He can speak to a crowd all at the same time in different languages. But was this a language that was known to man or was it something else? Let’s review some scriptures to get to the answer.
One of the 9 gifts we have previously studied is the gift of interpretation of tongues. This is found in 1 Corinthians 12.
To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 1 Corinthians 12:10 KJV
To understand this it is good to have seen it in action. Where can one see this gift of the Holy Spirit working? For example, it can be seen in churches that allow the Holy Spirit to flow, it can be seen when someone prays for someone else, or it can be seen on the mission field when one prays for others in a foreign land and do not speak the language. Experiencing the word is always an advantage to only hearing about it.
In church one Sunday, there was a friend sitting in front of us and during worship he began to pray louder in tongues, his hands began to shake while they were lifted high. He spoke for a few seconds and the church got silent so we could hear what he was saying. Of course he was praying in tongues so there needed to be an interpretation of what was said to the congregation. A few seconds pass and the pastor of the church stood up and began to interpret what our friend spoke in tongues. It blessed the church because it had the three ingredients the word tells us it must have. It edified, exhorted and comforted everyone.
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.3) But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 1 Corinthians 14:2-3 KJV
In another instance we saw the power of God in action when we hosted a mission team and the missionaries prayed for our friends who only spoke Portuguese. We know for sure that our missionary friends do not speak Portuguese and we know our foreign friends do not speak English. There are times when we stand next to someone in case translation is necessary. In several occasions we have seen the missionary pray for the person in tongues and they may lay hands on a particular area. Later on the person who received prayer will come up to me or my husband and say I thought no one spoke Portuguese but I was hearing the person speak to me in my language. We could hear no one was speaking in Portuguese because we were listening. The person would tell us there were healed and want to tell them thank you for praying for them.
God wants to show himself and reveals himself at times. We can definitely understand and have seen in action that the Lord gives the interpretation to the receiver so they may experience Him in another level. Why does he do this occasionally and not every time? This is something we cannot answer.
When the people in pentecost were speaking in tongues and the Jews heard them they were hearing their own language because the gift of interpretation was everywhere. So to answer the question, “Is praying in tongues a known language?” The answer is No. It is a heavenly language and only God understands. The word tells us this as well.
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. 1 Corinthians 14:2 KJV
When a person prays in tongues they do not speak to men but to God. He/she speaks mysteries into the air and only God understands but as he wills he provides the interpretation through the gift of interpretation of tongues. He gives the understanding to those whom he wants to understand.