Growing up in a very faith-filled home can be absolutely wonderful, but can also be intimidating. Not so much for the faith - that was the wonderful part. It was beyond the faith that was trepidacious.
My parents taught us how to live God-filled lives. They taught us to love the Lord, our God, to spread that love to others and how to listen to God's voice. The latter of which, I have the most difficulty. It's not so much having the desire to listen, it is more slowing myself down (and my mind down) in order to listen. My mind wanders continuously so trying to remove all thoughts during Adoration or Mass can be quite the challenge.
It was not uncommon to see my parents pray. In fact, they usually prayed about everything ... everything that mattered. They tried not to fret over the little things that attempted to block their view of God's path. It was wonderful to see them praying ... to observe their faith. It was when they instantaneously invited us to join them, and 'no' was not heard - we were included anyway, that became a bit embarrassing. It wasn't that we were praying, it was we were praying as a group. With my prayer, I am more introspective, more private. These are my personal prayers to God. My parents, however, firmly believe that when two or three or more are gathered in His name, the prayer will be answered. Maybe not in the way expected...but yet answered.
It was when we were living in the south that I was introduced to the gift of Tongues. For a girl who was already shy about praying aloud, it was disquieting to be around people who had this gift...especially when they used it! My parents usually used the gift when they needed to step back, out of themselves, during prayer, and ususally during their private prayer time. They needed to focus on God's view rather than the world's view.
When we moved to Ohio, maybe three years after we moved, they joined a charismatic prayer group. Every once in awhile the group would meet at our house and all of the kids would hide. But it was in those brief moments when we HAD to run downstairs that we heard the group speaking in Tongues. It was intriguing, yet intimidating. For a brief second I was straining to hear each of the different words ... then my fear got the better of me and I headed back upstairs to the safety of my own room - where I knew and understood the language spoken.
A little over a year ago, I joined a charismatic prayer group. They had a beginning series to introduce us newcomers to the Holy Spirit and the Most Holy Trinity, although the Holy Spirit and Jesus were the usual topics of discussion. I remember being prayed over to receive any gifts of the Holy Spirit that God wanted to bestow upon me. I also remember telling God, 'anything but the Gift of Tongues!' What a way to halt any endowment of God.
It was after I left the group earlier this year that I actually started opening more to God's word and trying to listen to what He was trying, ever so patiently, to tell me. It was then that I was opening more to God.
Little by little, phrases would come into my thoughts. Actually, they were more like utterances since I did not understand what they were, the language, or if it, in fact, was a language. I continued to pray about it, discern, and accept what I was slowly being revealed. About a month ago, my mom and I went to Adoration. The utterances became stronger. I knew I heard a few of the words before, so I asked my mom to speak in Tongues. The Lord was revealing to me His special gift ... a gift only given to me ... the gift of His Tongue!
I'm not a person who seeks a religious ecstatic experience, you know the kind, the 'allelujia, praise God! Be healed and be saved!' type person. Actually, even the enthusiastic ministers seen on TV send a chill up my spine. I am more reserved, more conservative with prayer. I use this gift during my personal prayer time when I am praying about a specific person or specific situation...not unsimilar to my parents. I ask for God's will to be done, not mine, and use the gift to praise God and His holy Name.
I have also found that I use this gift during Mass - during the epiclesis and consecration. Since the Gift of Tongues is actually a language used to praise God, I want to praise Him during the most sacred time during Holy Mass, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. What I found is that this gift has truly been a blessing. I have used it when I pray with friends, usually those who also have the Gift of Tongues. In my Church, we do not use the sanctus bells, so I pray with the Gift of Tongues, quietly, during the epiclesis and consecration...creating a joyful noise to the Lord.
Little did I understand what a blessing this Gift of God would become. Little did I understand the power of God and that He wants what is best for me. Little did I understand I do not know what is best for me in God's eyes. I need to remember Samuel's words..."Speak, Lord, your servant is listening," and then truly listen...