Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Praying Out Loud

I hate praying aloud.

Hate it.

Even blessing the food at a meal.

Please don't ask me.

I will do anything I can to avoid it.

Years ago, when I was in the twelfth grade,  my young life leader caught wind of just how much I hated praying aloud.  (Actually, at the time, I would have used the word "hate" for prayer in general.)  She, being wiser than I'd care to admit at times, forced the issue.  I no longer had a choice.  She could control me with her eyes.  If we were in a small group setting, and praying aloud was optional for everyone else, she'd tell me with her eyes (and sometimes with her words) that it was not an option for me.  If we were sharing a meal together, guess whose job it was to bless the food?

It's been a decade since that year I spent being forced into prayer by a loving friend.  These days prayer, the silent kind anyway, is as natural as breathing, and one of the things God has consistently asked of me and gifted me for. 

But I still hate praying aloud.

I've been thinking of it more often lately, that perhaps it's a discipline I need to cultivate again.

But I hadn't really felt any great drive or conviction until last week.

Last week I met with a long-time friend of mine who is the pentecostal chaplain at the university that I'm attending.  We spent an hour or so catching up, and, as I looked at my watch and realized that I needed to head off to class, he closed our time together by praying for me.

I walked away from that time refreshed.  It's not often these days that I am prayed for in person, and I had forgotten how encouraging it can be simply to hear someone lift me before the Father.  And as I walked away, I began to tell God how thankful I was for that time, for that needed encouragement.

And as I told him that, I felt God reminding me that perhaps I should be more willing to offer that encouragement and blessing to others.

I haven't figured out what that looks like, yet.  I'm not often in settings where prayer aloud would be appropriate.  Perhaps, in my case, it looks like asking one or two of my far away friends if we can close our phone conversations and skype dates by praying together, for each other.

In any case, I feel that strong internal nudging, that reminder to be willing, and so I'm seeking to be obedient to that, and aware of opportunities to life others before the Father, in their hearing.


tea said...

I can identify with this so much. When I pray aloud with someone else my words feel so fumbled. Prayer is something that's really important to me, but when it comes to praying for other out loud like that, I just feel so inadequate.

Lisa said...

Tea - it is so easy to feel inadequate, isn't it? I'm so thankful for a God who is gracious with my fumbled words, and the reminder from him that I am so blessed when someone is willing to pray aloud for me, even if they fumble for words, and that I should be willing to offer that blessing to someone else.