Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Right Way?

I went to the prayer meeting tonight, and it was weird. I appreciate that there are people who gather so regularly and so faithfully to pray for our church. It was humbling and inspiring to hear them not only pray for me, but be so inspired by my ministry. I always wonder if it means anything to anyone. It was also intimidated because I realized how much this really matters to some people. I almost felt inadequate and worried that I will never be able to do all they hope for me to do among them. I feel a lot of pressure to "produce." I know that's not at all what they meant to do, but it's how I received it. I shouldn't, but I did. Even beyond all that, though, I am honored. I am honored that they trust me with their church and their faith.

All that said, I was a little disturbed by part of the meeting, or I guess part of the prayer. I got a little surprised when one person started praying for the rest of the congregation to have softened hearts. Several months ago the prayer group started offering to meet with anyone who needs prayer after the service to pray with them briefly. One or two of the members waits each week in the side room in case someone comes. Apparently they are met by someone seeking prayer only VERY rarely. The person praying tonight prayed that the congregation's hearts would be softened and people would use this offer of prayer and that people would see to be in Christian community better. There was a little more to it, but I don't remember it all word for word so I don't want to misrepresent it. All in all what I can represent is how it made me feel. It sounded like judgement to me. It sounded like the man was saying, "If they don't like the kind of prayer I like it must not be right. If they don't want the same things from their church community that I want, than it must not be right." I remember him praying that people would set aside their pride.

Why is it automatically a deficiency in the others if they aren't taking up this group's offer for prayer? The problem is any answer would prove this man's point in his mind. I was intimidated coming to them with prayer concerns when they asked me. I think for the most part they have great integrity with what they intend, but at the same time I have had some interesting experiences with some of their members and confidential or sensitive information. I didn't share when they asked me for specific prayer requests or topics. I don't know how to work with that. It was just weird. I just didn't like the undercurrent of judgement of others who lived their life of faith a different way.

I almost added my own prayers during the prayer time - - prayers of thanksgiving for the diversity of discipleship in our congregation, prayers that lifted up the many different ways people seek God and seek community among our brothers and sisters in Christ. I didn't, though. My prayer was definitely a reponse to his, which I don't think was right or authentic. I remember being taught the rules for speaking in a Quaker meeting. A speaker is not supposed to respond to another's teaching from the Spirit, but let it stand on its own, and only speak his or her own word discerned from the Spirit. I took that advice and kept my prayer to myself, praying it silently in my heart as I also prayed for the wisdom to know if it was a real, authentic prayer or just my own self-righteous and judgemental reaction.

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