Speaking in Tongues

Speaking in Tongues

I read an article in the New York Times last week titled “Why We Talk in Tongues,” written by T.M. Luhrmann, a professor of anthropology at Stanford University. The author had traveled to Accra, Ghana, to study the charismatic Christian churches becoming popular in that part of the world, and there she encountered many people who prayed, both publicly and privately, by speaking in tongues.

In her article, Luhrmann says this: “What dawned on me in Accra is that speaking in tongues might actually be a more effective way to pray than speaking in ordinary language—if by prayer one means the mental technique of detaching from the everyday world, and from everyday thought, to experience God.”

I’d like to speak in tongues. This, as well as other prayer practices considered Pentecostal, are appealing because of the complete surrender one must undergo to fully experience the gift. Giving oneself over to God is not easy; in a world in which we fight to control the comings and goings of our lives, where we are taught that we can do and be anything we want, surrendering to the workings of the divine Creator is truly an art.

At one point in my life, during a time of both spiritual and life crisis, I believe I did speak in tongues—although it seems a bit presumptuous to say so. What I do know is that for that period of time, several months if I remember correctly, I would often wake in the middle of the night, disturbed, and the only thing that could bring a degree of solace was to walk around and pray. And sometimes, when my thoughts and words became too much, language would flow out that I did not recognize. It could be seen as madness, but it was not.

As my life goes on, more than anything I long for total abandonment to God, to be able to let go and fall totally and completely into the arms of the Creator—and perhaps speak in tongues as I fall.  That is a gift worth praying for.

Is speaking in tongues a Catholic practice? See this article on the Busted Halo site for more information.


About the Author

Mary Carol Kendzia is a product development director for Franciscan Media Books. She lives in Rhode Island, where she occasionally dips her toes into the Atlantic and reflects on the mysteries of life, among other things.
  • Sole Gage

    yes, I do believe in “speaking in tongues” for it’s our hotline to God…and the evil one can’t comprehend this message we sent to God in utter surrender and full acknowledgement of Jesus Christ being our Lord and our God… not only during spiritual and life crisis we pray in tongues but also in moments of deep praise, worship and thanksgiving to God.

    By the grace of God, I personally been recipient of this gift of tongues…being one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit during the Life in the Spirit seminar I attended and being my very 1st involvement in the Charismatic Prayer Community. This praying in tongues was all the more reinforced during my personal prayerful moments when I specially and fervently intercede for my loved ones.

    God is our most intimate and personal Friend that He wants to deeply commune with us in more than ways and one and having to pray in tongues is absolutely one of the most effective way to reach His loving heart and be enveloped by His amazing grace.

    God’s blessings and peace to all!

    Sole Gage
    Say It With God’s Word