2 Public Prayer
I made a list of 100 things I should do that scare me. In 2020, I plan to complete all 100.
I’m not afraid of public speaking. Put me in a classroom with 30 kids or an auditorium with 500 audience members, and I’m fine.
Put me in a room with 10 or 15 friends, and I’m a little nervous (6 is the edge of my comfort zone). I can still talk, but ask me to pray out loud . . .
This one might be cheating to put on the list, because I do it all the time. I’ve been in small groups and church groups and Bible studies my whole life. Maybe I can consider this one different because I prayed for someone I didn’t know, and I don't think I've done that before. Either way, I considered it a level 2 fear (highest is 5, so a 2 is definitely outside of the comfort zone but not necessarily scary).
If you haven’t been in a prayer group, they do this thing where someone volunteers to start and someone volunteers to close. The person who starts prays for a bit, then they go quiet and anyone can speak. When a few people have said their piece (or when all prayer requests have been covered), the person who volunteered to close will say a few words to finish.
But here's how it works out. After the person who started, you sit there in the quiet, and everyone has their eyes closed so you can’t even use visual cues, and you’re wondering if you should say something or let someone else go. And everyone is thinking the same thing. Finally, it’s been a really, really awkwardly long time, then 3 people will start talking at once.
Then, without the aid of visual cues, someone will keep talking and the other two will quiet down. When they finish, the cycle starts over again.
Eventually, a silence is long enough and awkward enough that whoever volunteered to close just puts everyone out of their misery.
I get that it's a beautiful thing, that we are approaching the throne of God as a group, as a family. I get that keeping our eyes closed helps keep us from being distracted, and I get that not praying in any particular order keeps from putting pressure on those who'd rather not speak, and I get that the fluidity gives space for the Spirit to move or something . . .
Just saying, there has got to be a better way.