A Christmas Carol, Praying in Tongues: 22 September

Apologies for another long delay…

On a day off, a few weeks ago, I woke early, as usual, and lay in bed quietly praying, enjoying lying in Jesus. It occurred to me that I hadn’t prayed in tongues for some days, despite an intention to pray in tongues for 10 minutes a day. I settled back and let gobbledegook flow out of my mouth, mostly quietly. After a few minutes of this, it ceased and I settled into a lovely deep peace, very contented. After a few more minutes, a tune came to me, bubbling up from inside, so I sang it out. ‘I wonder what that is?’ I mused. ‘A Christmas Carol,’ seemed to be the answer.

 My wife had drawn my attention a few weeks previously to the Times Christmas Carol Competition. She was thinking of entering, although words are her forte and they were asking for original tunes. I had wondered about making an entry myself, but not done anything more about it. Suddenly I had a carol tune.

 Wondering what words would go with this tune, some favourite words of Lancelot Andrewes, Elizabethan Anglican Bishop came to mind. ‘He was The Word, yet not able to speak a word.’ That was a good start, pointing me to John’s Gospel, Chapter 1. I mused on in the same vein, also reminded of words of Geoffrey ‘Woodbine Willie’ Studdert Kennedy, World War 1 Chaplain and pastor to working men.

 By now I had too much in my head to remember. Downstairs I picked up my MP3 player and recorder (bought to interview Fay Weldon), and sang into it the tune that had come. I wrote down the words. A little later I picked out the tune on our piano, and worked on the words more. I had a chorus and two verses. 5 days later the next and last two verses came, with a little thinking and searching.

 Our highly talented Church organist, pianist, composer, Charles Tebbs, transcribed and improved slightly what I had recorded and written. It is now with the Times Judges. The winner will be announced in November. Charles and I intend to have it sung on our church whatever the Times people say.

 What an amazing gift is praying in tongues! Without the tongues the carol would never have come. Tongues does seem to be a first, often the first, gift of the Spirit, after which other gifts come. But tongues is so weird! Why doesn’t God have people start with something more acceptable, less offensive? He doesn’t always make things easy for us.

 Tongues is like stepping fully into the swimming water. As our legs, and then our tummies, hit the cold water, a sensible, natural, part of us screams ‘No! Too uncomfortable. Back out now!’ We need to push ourselves further in. Soon we are acclimatised, and we can then swim happily in the water, exploring all kinds of places.

 With praying in tongues we ‘step in’ by beginning to make gobbledegook sounds with our voices, asking the Holy Spirit to flow and take over what we say. ‘We speak…  the Spirit [then] gives the ability.’ (Acts 2:4) We start, initiate, turn on the tap. The Holy Spirit then comes in, amplifying, filling out, giving a much greater flow than our hesitant efforts. From then on we can turn on this tap whenever we want. We don’t control what comes out, but we can stop and start again as we want. The Holy Spirit is ‘willing to yield.’ (James 3:17) But the beginning is hard. Our critical, in-control mind, screams ‘No! Too weird. Back out now!’ we have to go ahead in faith trusting that this really is good and helpful, if weird.

 A wonderful older Christian lady with whom I taught ‘Praying and Playing in Tongues’ in workshops in Lichfield Cathedral, began with ‘ping pong, ping pong.’ Only later did the full gobbledegook flow. An American Christian lady wrote to me fairly recently than she had opened her mouth for several days before anything truly flowed. As well as starting and feeling very foolish, it seems that quite often we are left floundering for a short while before God blesses our feeble efforts. He really doesn’t make it all easy at first.

 What a gift we then have! Tongues were great when my father died and I had no idea what to pray. I could express all that was in my heart without effort. Tongues have been powerful when praying with others for their healing or deliverance. ‘It feels like prayer that reaches the parts other prayer doesn’t reach,’ said one woman. Tongues have brought great insight. As I have followed tongues with praying in English, when it seems that I am praying the same thing but in my own language instead, a clear sense of what to pray for or how to proceed has come. Tongues have been miraculous. Twice, in Uganda, in seminars I have led, women who could not speak or understand a word of English, said a few, very pertinent, words in English.

 If you would like to read a paper I wrote explaining praying in tongues for the workshops I led, please write to harperrog@googlemail.com. Have a go! Ask someone to pray with you for the gift. Speak nonsense and keep going until you are aware that it’s not just you praying, but the Holy Spirit praying in you. You are likely to be surprised by what comes!

 Roger Harper


5 Responses to “A Christmas Carol, Praying in Tongues: 22 September”

  1. seo tips Says:

    With havin so much content and articles do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright infringement?

    My website has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either created myself or outsourced but it looks like a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my agreement. Do you know any techniques to help reduce content from being stolen? I’d certainly
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  2. kevinkordes Says:

    Rodger: I like your blog very much.

    However, I suggest that you go into your blog’s Dashboard and turn on the sidebar menus to display your posts.
    Also would be a good idea to create categories for the posts as well.
    This would make your blog a lot easier to read as well.

    • rogerharper Says:

      Thanks Kevin,

      I’ve tried to turn on the sidebar menu by changing things at Settings – Reading. Is this what you mean? I’ll do some more categorising soonish. (Didn’t initially expect people to want to read out of date stuff…) Or is there some specific ‘sidebar menu’ switch that I am failing to see?

      Interesting that you’re in Thailand. You know my interest in hell, including pictures of hell. Do these feature in local temples etc? Some of the most gut-wrenching pictures of hell I have seen were in Mongolia. (More evidence, I reckon, that the concept came into Christianity from outside.) I guess Thailand might be similar? Or not?

      All the best,


      • Kevin Kordes Says:

        Honestly, I’ve forgotten how to do that. I think it depends on the theme that you have. I set up my blogs about a year ago and have never had to to any mods on the sidebar. The easy way is just to change the theme to one that has a default sidebar.
        Try switching to the Sundance theme and see what happens.
        Yes, the idea of a hell or place of torment is pagan and has no place in Christianity. I would imagine that thousands of years ago people saw the volcanic activity in various places and concocted the myth.
        I really haven’t bothered to study Thai mythology that much so I really can’t answer your last question.
        BTW…my main WordPress blog is http://kevinkordes.wordpress.com

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