Thursday, January 25, 2007

Tongues at a High Place

God asked me to pray on top of Skinner Butte, a large hill in the middle of this town of Eugene, Oregon. Today I went and did so.

I do not understand much about why scripture talks about "high places", or how they affect the spiritual. From stories shared by friends in Israel I know that praying on a high place can somehow "reclaim" it for God if it has used by the Adversary, and this can remove some of the Adversary's ability to spread lies. There must be more than that, but I am ignorant.

However, I can go and pray if God asks me to do so. Sometimes God will simply tell me what to pray when I get there. Other times what I should pray about is apparently none of my business, and God's Spirit will use me to pray "in tongues". (To be specific, I do not understand what I say, but from sound qualitiess and words that are sometimes repeated I seem to use two languages in such situations: not at the same time, and I have no idea why one or another language happens a situation.)

When I pray in tongues it's definitely a miraculous activity. At one time I was completely skeptical of the phenomenon, for I had only met the kind of people who claimed to speak in tongues but were only repeating a few syllables over and over. I eventually met followers of Yeshua who genuinely had this spiritual gift from God, and years later agreed to let someone with this gift pray that I might receive it. (I immediately did, which startled me for in my skepticism I had tried in privacy to speak random syllables and could not do so.)

When people speak normally there is a different cadence and tone when speaking a train of thought versus repeating an idea in multiple ways, when talking to someone versus talking about someone, when sharing joys or worries, when offering help or asking for help. Similarly, when I pray in tongues not only am I speaking words that I can tell have grammar (and sometimes even poetry) but I can glean a little about what I am praying about.

I went to Skinner's Butte with a congreant. Even once we arrived neither of us were told what to say, so I prayed in tongues. It was interesting, as always, to experience how it was somewhat of a diagnostic tool in the way I just described. Especially because the Butte is not a simply spherical hill. (It has a lower, western part of the "top" with the best view and a look-out area. It has a highest part with many trees and not much view. It has an eastern part with a less built-up look-out area and a decent view.) Each of its parts seemed to be receiving a different kind of prayer.

In the past I have (infrequently) experienced another kind of "praying in tongues", when God just took over my mouth and I found myself praying in English words I was not expecting, which later on in retrospect turned out to be perfect for that occasion.

Only once have I been part of a congregation's service in which the dynamic of First Corinthians 14:26-28 happened, with one person praying in tongues and someone else interpreting. I know of no congregations where this happens regularly.

Only once have I encountered the kind of speaking in tongues where someone miraculously gains fluency in a language they did not know.

At one point God asked me to practice praying in tongues. That seemed a bit comical since I had no idea how to practice. How could I know if I was pronouncing words correctly in a language I didn't know? But I did my best to be obedient to the task asked of me.

Anyway, that's what little I know about praying in tongues and the significance of "high places". Since that's more than most people blog about, I thought I'd share.