Blog Project Day 95: Sometimes You Just Gotta Pray

Today I started my lunchtime walk by praying for a friend who’d been on my heart lately. Next thing you know I’m striding down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the capitol praying in tongues, which—when I moved here more than a decade ago—is not something I ever expected was even in the realm of possibility. Of course, when I moved to DC, I’d been unchurched for years, and I was more concerned with writing better poems and becoming less angry at my mother than I was with engaging with God.

I don’t remember precisely the first time I heard someone speak in tongues, but I know I would have been around 12 or 13, when my mother joined her first pentecostal church and dragged us (or maybe it was just me?) kicking and screaming (at least on the inside) with her. Considering that that particular ministry also had a deliverance* component, hearing people speak in tongues or watching them fall out under the Spirit** wasn’t very shocking at all. Given that I spent most of the service thinking about kissing boys or watching TV or being hungry, it was all just part of the dull roar of church.

I know there are many Christian churches today that believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit—speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing, to name a few—-are, to use the technical phrase, “from the olden days.” But I, for one, am very grateful that these gifts are still available to the modern-day believer if we just ask for them. While some of them are based on what God has called you to as part of the church (like prophecy, for example), speaking in tongues is a gift that’s available to any and every believer.

What I love about speaking in tongues is that I get out of my way. It’s not my brain speaking to God, or even my heart, it’s direct spirit-to-spirit conversation. I can’t quite describe the feeling of peace and rightness that comes over me when I pray in tongues. Even if my tone is urgent or frantic, I just know bone-deep that what I’m praying is in God’s will. How can it not be when He’s the one providing the language for me to pray in? I am very aware of just how many times and in how many instances I do not live up to what God expects of me. But praying in tongues, that direct connection, powerfully reminds me that even at my most fallen or broken or even if I’m just being plain wrongheaded, I am still inextricably connected to my God. And to that I say Amen and Alleluia.

*What’s deliverance, you ask? The most simplistic and thus not entirely accurate way to explain it is it’s like exorcism, but it’s nothing like The Exorcist or anything you’ve ever seen in any movie involving a priest, holy water, and a crucifix. It’s much more prayer-based,and, while it can get raucous, most people just yawn or cough or cry. I have never seen—nor do I ever expect to see—anyone’s head spin around their body. So take that William Peter Blatty!
** Yep, I’ve done that too.
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Posted on April 4, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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