I promised myself I’d finally press publish on some of these blogs in wait, this week, while I’m away on holidays. And this is a fresh one, out of a moment of reflection as I read and the kids slowly fall asleep with me sitting by their bedside door.
I’ve often felt like I need to explain, in depth, our practice of prayer at our evening church service. Believe me, it can be weird. Most often, our practice of prayer has people standing, moving around the room, raising hands more than any other time in our services (yes, even more than worship) and it’s an amazing move of unity.
From all I can decipher, it’s a move of everything a millennial could want. It’s real. There are absolutely no polished pray-ers and the language is anything but eloquent. But it is real. It’s vulnerable and mostly unfiltered.
It’s community-based. It’d be weird for visitors. We stand. We move forward to surround a person being prayed for, or for the requests being lifted up. We lay hands. And often people, not feeling like they are part of the community OR not willing to experience the vulnerability with that community, remain seated or stay at a distance. It’s comprehensive. Everyone is welcome and is invited to move and visibly show their participation.
And it gives everyone an opportunity to be involved, to be heard, to share and participate. Now, it’s not for the faint of heart (because you do have to speak to be heard over the 150 – 200 in the room), but everyone does have an opportunity. We take the time, we leave gapping room for silence for those to speak and we don’t even have the music playing in the background to remove the awkwardness that silence brings.
And yet I wonder about barriers. If you really want vulnerability, pray in front of the masses. If you want community, join those gathered in prayer. If you want influence, share your prayers… the inner workings of your heart and soul, and gain influence in doing so. If we are to live as followers of Jesus, we best do what he modelled most and also what we ignore the most in the gospels. He (Jesus) set aside time specifically for prayer. If we can’t do it in our church gatherings , then when is the right time? If we are not actively sharing our passions, heart-yearnings and unfiltered ponderings before God and man, then what?
If prayer is but a group meditation, then we gain from vulnerability and growing together as a community in that shared experience. There is no need for eloquence (see Matthew 6:7-8). But if it is more; if it is a unified spirit of dialogue with the Almighty, then we might consider spending a little more time speaking and listening, as a community of people seeking Jesus, and an almighty God waiting for us to listen to what He has for us.