When I first came to know the Lord, I was very shy in regards to speaking or praying aloud. I didn’t feel qualified. Other Christians seemed to know more than I, spoke with more knowledge about godly things and prayed with so much more authority. I, on the other hand, stumbled all over my well-meaning words of faith whenever I tried to share. If I was lucky enough to quote an actual scripture, I rarely remembered which book of the Bible it was in like others did. Instead, I had to ransack my brain to bring the right reference to mind only to give up by saying “it’s in there somewhere, really.”
The day I finally did work up enough nerve to pray aloud with others, my heart pounded in my chest for fear of sounding foolish. Fortunately, I made it through the prayer but not without a dozen “uuuhs” and “umms” in the midst of my requests. I guess you can say when it came to sharing my faith and praying aloud, instead of being a bold, confident speaker and witness, I felt more like an incompetent babbler.
Now, 15 years later, I speak proudly of my faith in public or small group settings and I pray regularly out loud with and for others. However, I admit I still use “uuuhs” and “umms” in my prayers, I still forget the exact location of various scriptures, and when I speak publically I still moments of stumbling over my words. I guess when it comes right down to it, I’m just as much of a babbler today as I was 15 years ago, but because I believe in what I’m sharing I babble on.
Over the years I’ve met many lovely Christians who feel the same way but have yet to push through their fears of looking foolish to actually sharing with others. Plagued by self-consciousness, they avoid speaking of their deep rooted faith at all costs. While they love God, see His powerful work in their life, and really have so much to share, their fear of being a public babbler keeps them from expressing the good news.
Fortunately, God offers great encouragement for us fearful babblers in Acts 17: 18-27. Here we find Paul speaking with a group of wise philosophers, sharing with them about his faith in Jesus Christ. The philosophers respond to Paul’s efforts by questioning, “What is this babbler trying to say?” (v.18)
The great and wise logicians thought Paul was a babbler about foreign gods, as they did not know who Jesus was. Paul could have backed down and waited until another time to speak when perhaps he sounded a little less ignorant or foolish, but instead he babbled on.
“So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.” (v. 22-23)
Babbler or not, Paul was determined to share about the God he had come to know and believed in. While at one time Paul had been very knowledgeable about religious things, just like the philosophers and could spend hours on end discussing the latest ideas with the best of them, when it came to sharing the truth of his new-found faith in Jesus Christ, he was a big babbling babe but it didn’t matter.
He went on to say, “God made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need…His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.” (v.24-27)
When we read the words Paul shared we may think “Wow! How powerful and eloquent.” Yet at that moment, in Paul’s life, with those philosophers, he may have very well felt just like many of us when sharing our faith—A babbler. But babbler or not, Paul’s words were clearly effective as many of those same philosophers became believers.
If you hold back on sharing your faith for fear of sounding foolish, if “uuuhs” and “umms” sprinkled through your prayers cause you to shy away from praying with someone, realize that as long as you are babbling the truth of God’s word, your god-given babble will be effective.