« Me and Emerging Church | Main | GodMen »

Thursday, December 07, 2006



Brodie, even though I have a fair amount of time in education I get my left and right brain functions mixed up (does that make me a no-brainer??) - I once went to a brain gym course and got mixed up with scratching my ear and rubbing my nose - which one helped me recall important facts and which one is an annoying habit?!

I'm interested in commenting on your post but I am not sure of the question - are you asking: when one prays in tongues what else is happening in our brains?


As far as I'm aware people have been hooked up to "brain machines" to see what electrical activity is going on when someone prays in tounges for a period of time. So I'm not realy asking that. I'm more interested in a thinking that's of a "different order".


OK, think I know what you mean.
My experience is that my thoughts turn to a different level when I am praying in tongues. I can't explain it very well, probably, but I find that I often do this when I am upset, concerned or moved by an issue or a problem. I find my thoughts are "lifted" to a higher level to see things from God's perspective when I really don't feel that I can manage that by myself.
Feels like Colossians: set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Just feels easier, unexplainably.


Hi Brodie. I've had some similar thoughts lately. Being a trained linguist has proved something of a difficulty here. My problem was that most of what I heard as "praying in tongues" sounded nothing like any language I know of (or I would suggest any language that could logically exist). Recently I've started thinking about it in terms of something that "transcends language" - so to answer your question it wouldn't be left- or right- brain, but Spirit-to-Spirit communication. It doesn't bypass the brain, necessarily, but transcends (or circumvents) the logical linguistic faculties. Maybe.

Not having had the experience myself it's hard to comment, but the trouble people have in describing it is probably due to this "transcending language" thing. Some rambling thoughts. Good to see great men of faith like yourself struggling to figure this one out. Not just me then. :)


Jamie said "My problem was that most of what I heard as "praying in tongues" sounded nothing like any language I know of (or I would suggest any language that could logically exist)."

Interesting one. Heard it said that many of us are probably speaking what Paul says are the tongues of angels i.e. languages not understandable on earth (mind you, we sometimes get tied up with the idea of boundaries and linguistic communities; am not sure whether they are quite as important to God!?)

I find it fascinating and have always liked the idea of this topic having further academic study :-)
Brodie, a PhD topic perhaps?

Wood Street Girl

I agree that a lot of times tongues tends to sounds unlike any language I have heard or that could be 'real'..but here's a true story that really challenged me (I heard it from the wife of an esteemed 3rd year ICC student). Lucy (let's call her that as I don't have time to get her permission to use her real name) has a pal who was brought up on one of the islands, very traditional, family speak Gaelic, in the Free Church etc. (i.e. cessationist background), but had a pal who attended a charismatic church which got her stirred up about the whole tongues/prophecy/healing thing. Anyway, she asked God to show her whether the whole tongues thing was for 'now' or not and went to her friend's church one night. During the service the people around her started to speak in tongues but the man behind her was talking in Gaelic, just generally praising God. At the end of the service she turned round and asked him where he was from and it turned out he was a southerner...and couldn't speak Gaelic of his own volition. She got her answer from God.

Anyway, I totally agree with the Spirit to Spirit communication idea although transcending logical linguistic faculties might be true for some but not for others. Anyhow that's my two bits worth, oh great theologians.


oh great theologians - that must be Jamie and Brodie for it certainly aint me!

(I managed to upset people by my rubbish use of words tonight!?!?!?)


I don't think you realy upset people, but it would have been interesting if you gave your answer in tongues! (for those not in the know Lynn is just back from a church business meeting)


I have heard stories of people hearing their own language from others speaking in tongues, and (having not had the experience myself) I'm prepared to accept them on face-value. The thing is, the majority of the "praying in tongues" (as opposed to public tongues messages) seems to be of the 'alinguistic' (postlinguistic? hyperlinguistic??) nature rather than the 'other languages' sort (I won't bore you with the phonological arguments for why I consider them alinguistic).

This is a real challenge to a cerebral-type like me. For I while I would consider anything that sounded unlike language to be counterfeit. Thinking of this kind of (very personal) "praying in tongues" as transcending language rather than "languages of men and angels" has helped deal with the (to me) obvious linguistic issues in what I hear.

A friend put it nicely to me when he said that, since I was quite good with words, I could express my praise to God quite well, but for some God gives a way to give "words" to the feelings of the heart in worship when the mind has no words (sounds like Romans 8).

Sorry for the long post, but this makes me think of other ways we can "transcend" words in our prayer and praise - dance, art, contemplation, body position... our history is rich with 'postlinguistic' praise! On which note I shall stop talking. :)

The comments to this entry are closed.