About the presenter: Richard Mallard is Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication Disorders at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. His bachelor's and master's degrees are from the University of North Texas and his Ph.D. is from Purdue University. He worked professionally in the Alvin, Texas Independent School District and was on the faculties at Eastern Illinois, Purdue, and Vanderbilt before returning home to Texas and Texas State University in 1979. Dr. Mallard is a Fellow of ASHA and holds Specialty Recognition in Fluency Disorders from the Clinical Specialty Board of ASHA. Dr. Mallard has conducted intensive stuttering programs for children and adults since 1976. He currently works with families of children who stutter in intensive, non-intensive, and email/Internet formats in both university and private practice settings. Dr. Mallard and his wife, Nancy, are the parents of two grown sons and enjoy biking and gardening, respectively.

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to Richard Mallard before October 22, 2002.

A Biblical Approach to Treating Stuttering

by Richard Mallard
from Texas, USA


If you are a speech-language pathologist, perhaps you have had clients approach treatment from a faith perspective (“I have been praying for some time that God would lead me to the right treatment program.”) or even ask you questions about God’s role with the problem at hand (“Why would God allow this to happen to me?”).  If you are a person with a communication disorder or the parent of a child with such a problem, you may have asked similar questions.  I hope this paper will help you find the answers that you may be looking for.

For the past several years, I have been interested in what the Bible says about working with people who have problems, specifically problems associated with stuttering.  Can we treat stuttering from a Biblical perspective?  I began studying the Bible rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15), understanding the Bible as a timeline that describes God’s different relationships with man from the beginning to the end of recorded time (dispensations).  Realizing the unique message of the Apostle Paul (Galatians 1:11-12) for us today, I began to take notes on just what Paul said about dealing with problems as found in his books, Romans through Philemon.  Come to find out, he says a lot!  And, what he says is directly applicable to what we as speech-language pathologists can use in treatment.

Please understand that I am not a theologian.  No interpretation or denominational slant is intended in this paper.  The Bible is simply used as a book that might be useful.  There are many verses that can be used for each concept.  Space limitations precluded using all of them.  You and I may see things differently, and that is okay.  I look forward to your comments.  Quotations from the Bible (King James Version, 1990) are in italics and underlined sections are mine for emphasis.


There are three introductory concepts that form the foundation for the clinical application of scripture.

1. There is hope for dealing with stuttering and that hope can be found in the

Man has called out to God for help and healing with many and varied problems since the beginning of Biblical time.  Examples from the Old Testament include problems such as leprosy (Numbers 12:13), diseases (Psalm 103:3), and broken in heart and wounds (Psalm 147:3).


A notable example in the Old Testament for the topic of communication disorders relates to Moses.  Isaiah the prophet even mentions stuttering.


Exodus 4:10-13—And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou has spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.  And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?  Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.  To read the complete account of God’s assignment to Moses and Moses’ attitude, read Exodus 3:6-4:31.  You will see that God provided the means for Moses to communicate (Exodus 4: 14-16) through Aaron.


The prophet Isaiah also said For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people (Isaiah 28:11).


Examples from the New Testament relative to the hope of dealing with problems include:


Luke 18:27—And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.


Ephesians 3:20—Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.


2 Corinthians 9:8—And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.


2 Corinthians 3:5—Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.


2 Corinthians 1:3-4—Blessed be God …Who comforteth us in all our tribulation,…


2 Timothy 1:7—For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  Perhaps no other disorder of communication elicits fear in clients more than stuttering.  Fear can be overcome.


2 Timothy 3:11—The Apostle Paul, in writing to Timothy and describing persecutions and afflictions that he (Paul) had suffered, stated, …but out of them the Lord delivered me.


Thus, examples from the Bible are specific that hope for dealing with problems can be found there.


2.  One can approach stuttering and other problems from a spiritual basis provided one condition is met—belief.


Can just anyone regardless of his or her spiritual condition expect to gain using the Bible as the basis for treatment?  The Bible has a specific answer to this question.


      2 Timothy 2:19—…The Lord knoweth them that are his.


1 Corinthians 2:14—But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.


Romans 8:5-6—For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.


1 Thessalonians 2:13—For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.


Romans 10:4—For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.


Romans 8:28—And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  What then, is God’s purpose?  His purpose can be found in Ephesians 3:4-11 (…to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery) and 1Timothy 2:4 (Who would have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.).


What must you believe in order to discern spiritual matters from God’s word?


3.  Spiritual matters are discerned through salvation.


You are saved through your belief that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead to justify you before God.  Salvation comes through belief, as indicated in the verses below.


Romans 4:24-5:1—…if we believe on him that raised up Jesus or Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:


Romans 10:9 and 13—That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.


1 Corinthians 15:3-4—For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.


Ephesians 2:8—For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.


Ephesians 1:13—In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.


Clinical Applications


What attitude should we have about problems in our lives?  The first step in overcoming any problem is to have the proper attitude, hopefully before treatment begins.  The following suggestions provide a strong foundation on which to build progress in treatment.


“Deliverance in trouble is far more blessed than deliverance from trouble”—E.C. Moore.


“This is one of the benefits of trials, they tend to focus our attention on that which is eternal.”  (Sadler, 2000, p. 7)


2 Corinthians 11:30—…I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.


2 Corinthians 12:9-10—My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.


Romans 8: 26—Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.


Romans 12:12—Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;  Many people who stutter may see this problem as a tribulation.  Patience during tribulation is certainly worth striving for.


Phillipians 4:11—Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.


1 Timothy 6:6—But godliness with contentment is great gain.

Purpose of Problems

Is there a purpose for having problems?  The apostle Paul had problems that demonstrated God’s power and served God’s purpose.  When writing to the Corinthians he said


1 Corinthians 2: 3-5—And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.  And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Could it be that problems you have can be used to reveal the power of God in your life?  It may be that learning to overcome a problem can provide avenues of success and strength you never realized you had.


2 Corinthians 12:7-8—And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  Here we see the Apostle Paul was given a problem (thorn in the flesh) for a specific purpose (lest I should be exalted above measure).  This problem was not removed even after he asked the Lord three times to remove it.


It is comforting to know that God provided a way for Paul to perform in spite of Paul’s problem (2 Corinthians 12:9)—And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.


Paul’s response, however, was the key—v. 9—Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Could stuttering have a purpose, even a higher purpose than you might realize?  Can a problem in your life be used in a positive manner?

Who is the best clinician?

Who should one turn to in times of need or to help solve problems?


Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10—The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…


Proverbs 1:7—The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.


Man’s wisdom states that a problem like stuttering should be resolved by a competent professional.  Read the verses below and see what you think.


Proverbs 3:5-6—Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.


1 Corinthians 2:5—That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.


2 Corinthians 1:3-4—Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.  That’s a novel thought—those who have a problem can help others with the same problem!


What Does One Do?

We often want to know concrete things to do when we have problems.  Well, Paul is very specific in what we should do.


Philippians 4:6-7—Be careful for nothing (This means don’t worry); but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.


Ephesians 6:10—Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.


The following verses do not tell us to avoid hardships and problems.  What do they say to you?


Romans 12:12—Paul, in talking to his brethren in Rome, encouraged them to be …patient in tribulation.


2 Corinthians 12:9-10—Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.


2 Timothy 2:3—Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.


2 Timothy 4:5—But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions,


2 Corinthians 7:4—I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.


Hebrews 5:8—Though He were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.

What is the Sequence of Treatment?

One of the first treatments for stuttering came from Charles Van Riper.  His therapy (Van Riper, 1973) describes the need to have proper motivation and attitude before the problem of stuttering can be controlled.  The hallmark of Van Riper’s therapy is desensitization, which is probably the most misunderstood concept in his therapeutic approach. 


What does Paul have to say about the sequence of dealing with tribulation and how does that compare with what Van Riper recommends in his first three steps?


Romans 5:1-5—Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.


Van Riper and Paul describe the sequence of dealing with problems as follows:


Van Riper                                           Paul

Motivation                               Glory in tribulation

Identification                           Tribulation leads to patience

Desensitization                        Patience leads to experience

                                                Experience leads to hope

                                                Hope makes us not ashamed


Van Riper and Paul both teach that attitude (glory in tribulation) and motivation are foundations on which to begin.   Problems (tribulation) lead to patience, which is required to be successful with any endeavor—there is no quick fix.  Through patience one can gain the experience needed to realize that there is hope for success (I can identify all aspects of my stuttering, not run away and avoid it.).  Hope, then, makes one not ashamed.  Not being ashamed of stuttering (desensitization) is required for the completion of Van Riper’s therapy (1973)—variation, approximation, and stabilization.




What happens if the person who stutters is not successful in gaining control of speech?  Is all lost?  The answer is no.


Romans 8:18—For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.


2 Corinthians 4:8-10—We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.


Colossians 2:10—And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.


1 Thessalonians 5:18—In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.


I hope this paper has relevance for you.  As a person who stutters, I can speak directly to the truths found in these verses.




Holy Bible, King James Version (1990).  Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.


Sadler, Paul M. (2000).  “The Life and Letters of the Apostle Peter (Part IV).”  The Berean Searchlight.  Germantown, WI: Berean Bible Society.


Van Riper, Charles (1973).  The Treatment of Stuttering.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.


(Appreciation is expressed to Pastor Jerry Lockhart of New Braunfels, Texas and Cantor Neil Schwartz of Chattanooga, Tennessee for their insightful comments and suggestions.  In addition, Pastor Scott Mitchell of Seguin, Texas and Larry McSpadden of San Marcos, Texas provided helpful assistance.)



You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to Richard Mallard before October 22, 2002. Dr. Mallard is also willing to continue converstaion about this paper through email - am02@txstate.edu

August 13, 2002