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gobbledegook? A different language? 

This week one of the church computers crashed and upon rebooting, It only could type in unknown language characters. Talk about frustrating and funny all at the same time! 
It reminded me of the Tongues of Bable and of Pentecost. 
We recently concluded our series in the first eleven chapters of Genesis with the story of Babel.
On Easter Sunday we considered how Babel points to Jesus and His incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection. There is another interesting parallel to consider. Genesis 11 (Babel) has some interesting correspondence to Acts 2 (Pentecost). And as the Bible does sometimes, we find a mirrored reversal.
Both stories include new languages! 
But, at Babel we find confusion. 
At Pentecost, we find clarity (tongues, though foreign, are understood, and are giving glory and praise to God!).
At Babel, it is about getting up to the Heavens. 
At Pentecost, Heaven is touching Earth powerfully. 
At Babel, it is all about staying (rebelling against God's global mandate).
At Pentecost, it is the commencement of the scattering (God's people returning to God's mission of extending His message & ministry everywhere around the world). 
It's interesting that at Pentecost God chose to mark the outpouring of His Spirit with new languages. God still does this work today as He baptizes believers in the Spirit and makes heavenly prayer languages available. Have you ever wondered why God still gives spiritual prayer languages? Here are a few simple reasons: 

  1. Languages are a symbol of diversity. God's heart has always been for every nation, every tribe, every tongue. 
  2. Unknown prayer languages become a symbol of yieldedness. The book of James asserts what we know all too well: the tongue is one of the most difficult things in the world to control! How profound, then, that God's Spirit can prompt new languages --not of damaging words-- but of edifying words in prayer. 
  3. God-given prayer languages become an exercise in trust. When we pray in languages our mind does not understand it seems unusual. Surrendering our human obsession to have to understand everything comes into practice as we trust God and continue to practice praying in the Spirit. 
  4. God-given prayer languages become a meaningful, edifying, and personal prayer connection with God. Have you ever been in a moment where you have struggled to put words to what you want to say to God in prayer? Sometimes we can reach a 'dead-end' in prayer. Our unknown prayer languages are a gift that give expression to the deepest things our spirit wishes to communicate to God in prayer. 

The Apostle Paul indicates that he relied on praying in the Spirit (prayer language of tongues) often (1 Cor 14.18). Jude indicates that praying with our prayer languages strengthens our faith and connection with God (vs 20). I met with a world renowned biblical scholar last Summer who shared an amazing story. Professors at UBC wanted to study brain activity under various religious influences. They asked if they could 'wire him up' and monitor his brain activity as he prayed in tongues. He agreed and their responses were shocked as they watched how his entire brain lit up with activity in ways they had not seen before as he prayed in unknown languages to God. 
What do we do now? 

  • If it's been a while, spend some time praying in the Spirit this week! Why not take 2 minutes right now? 
  • Practice including your prayer language softly during times of worship. 
  • If you have yet to receive a prayer language from God, ask Him for one. He loves to give of His Holy Spirit generously! (Luke 11.13).

I heard an inspiring story last week of someone in our church family experiencing this for the first time recently. Some of you will recall I included a reference to this in my message last week. In a nutshell, this gentleman in our church had previously asked God for a prayer language but had yet to find it activated. In a time of prayer with the two others in his DNA group, his prayers in English suddenly became prayers in unknown languages. He told me about what a surprising and exciting release in prayer this became! 
I just love that in our church, God doesn't just move on Sundays, but He is at work in the everyday stuff of life all week long. 
Right now could be another great moment for you and God. 
Ask Him? 
Pastor Mike 
ps- let me just quickly note that scripture offers a distinction between the "gift of tongues" which exists for the corporate edification of other Christians and requires interpretation (as outlined in certain places in Corinthians), and the gift of a prayer language in other/unknown tongues which has no interpretation but strengthens faith and deepens the intimate connection with God. Perhaps a study for another time.
Pastor Mike,