Sunday, March 29, 2015


I'm told it takes about one year for the average child to begin speaking. This doesn't include all the cooing and other noises that often take place much earlier. This is the beginning of dialogue; a few words strung together here and there. Gradually more words are learned and conversation blossoms.

In Tim Keller's Prayer he likens learning to prayer to learning to speak. Keller quotes Eugene Peterson as saying:
Language is spoken into us; we learn language only as we are spoken to. We are plunged at birth into a sea of language. . . . Then slowly syllable by syllable we acquire the capacity to answer mama, papa, bottle, blanket, yes, no. Not one of these words was a first word. . . . All speech is answering speech. We were spoken to before we spoke.
Keller continues:
[...] studies have shown that children's ability to understand and communicate is profoundly affected by the number of words and the breadth of vocabulary to which they are exposed as infants and toddlers. We speak only to the degree we are spoken to. . . . This theological principle has practical consequences. It means that our prayers should arise out of immersion in the Scripture. We should "plunge ourselves into the sea" of God's language, the Bible.
If the goal of prayer is a real, personal connection with God, then it is only by immersion in the language of the Bible that we will learn to pray, perhaps just as slowly as a child learns to speak.

This echoes Jude's first post on the journey into a solid prayer life. It's not easy and can only be properly learned through the immersion in the Word. We learn and grow in our "speaking" as God continually speaks to us through the Bible. This will take time. Just as a child doesn't emerge from the womb citing Shakespeare neither will we build a fervent prayer life without our Bibles!

1 comment:

  1. This is good. It also made me think that we should accumulate our vocabulary for prayer from immersion in the word. We should use biblical terms and phrases when we pray. This will also be a process; we will learn over time as we work with the word and as it is illumined by the Spirit.