Last night my pastor, Alan Smith, taught on the Spiritual discipline of speaking in tongues or, if you prefer, praying in the Spirit.
For those of you unfamiliar with this practice, it can seem pretty weird. Basically, it sounds like nonsense coming out the mouth of a grown up! But, while that may adequately explain the behavioral component of this practice, the inner experience is quite different.
I have a confession to make: I pray in tongues. (Are we still friends?)
On the few occasions I have done this, I felt quite silly at first. Then I started to notice a change in my heart.
Because I have a 3 ½ yr old daughter, I have the entire movie, “Frozen” memorized. For those other parents out there, you may be familiar with the scene where Elsa (you know, magical ice powers, low self-confidence, older sister – I can’t believe I’m broadcasting this embarrassingly infantile illustration to the world!) steps onto the beginning of a flight of stairs she created. If you remember, she doesn’t really know what’s going to happen. I can imagine her mind thinking “Will I fall? Will the stairs break?” Then, as soon as she takes her first step, the stairs become more solid as does her confidence as evidenced by a big grin on her face.
This is kind of what praying in the Spirit can be like to someone who has never or rarely done it before. “Am I about to do something silly?” “Will I regret this?” “Am I crazy?” Then you take the first step. For me, I opened my mouth, mentally confirmed my faith, and let sound come out! What a freeing experience!
I recall a passage from the letter to the Hebrews. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” I think praying in the spirit, or speaking in tongues, is much less about a behavior and much more about the activity of the heart. I am becoming more and more convinced that, no matter what your behavior, it will be edifying (“Christianese” for positive or encouraging and uplifting) if it is done in faith.
So, whether your stepping out in faith to try something new and foreign or past and forgotten, or just doing the dishes. Try living, eating, drinking, talking, sleeping, underwater basket weaving, and whatever else you may do as an expression of faith.
A favorite teacher of mine, Bob Hamp, has profoundly said, “Whatever you feed, grows.” Feed your faith by expressing it in the small things in life, such as seemingly random noises coming out of your mouth, and watch it grow!
As for me, I will be praying in the Spirit much more often. In fact, I’ve already started, and I’m already noticing my conscious contact with God growing along with all the fruits that come with that. Want to try it with me?
Let it go! (I couldn’t resist…ok I could have, but just didn’t)