Sunday, February 21, 2016

Is prayer natural and why it matters

My three-going-on-four-year-old talks. A lot.
She babbles about random things...
She sings...
She tells stories...
She takes up great slabs of time at daycare sharing in the "news time" about her cat and baby sister...

But this ability to talk has been developed over a number of years.

And now that I've got a newborn who can only communicate via crying, it has me wondering...
Do we, as humans, have the innate ability to communicate?
And, if so, do we have the innate ability to talk?

I think, with no solid research to back me up, that the first question is clearly true. From the instant we are born, we want the world around us to have some clue about what's going on for us. As a baby, it all revolves around tired, hungry and uncomfortable.

But, the second question is more puzzling, for we communicate beyond mere words. The language we use is something which we develop and learn from those around us.

The two questions bring me to the topic of prayer...

Do we, as humans, have the innate ability to communicate spiritually?
And, if so, do have the innate ability to pray?

Again, without any solid basis, I suspect that the answers may mirror those above.

As humans, have an internal desire to communicate with the world around us, including he/she/it/they who put us here, made everything and keeps us accountable.

But, this desire to communicate is one which is shaped over time.

In short, we might desire to pray, but we must be given to tools to do it most effectively. We need to develop a spiritual language to free our tongues.

And here's why it matters in terms of evangelism and discipleship...

When we tell people about God, or when they come enquiring, we are not speaking about something which is totally foreign. There is an inbuilt spark which we are tapping into.

And, when it comes to walking with people on their journey-of-faith, we have the responsibility to talk seriously about the richness of the faith traditions (even the ones I don't particularly engage with) and the language of theology. Here we expose then to the language of the faith and expressions which have been used for millennia.

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