In homage to Stuff Christians Like

SCL: Breaking the rules of the prayer meeting.

When you give in to the boundless love of your Maker, when you quit trying to be all ‘I know better than the Creator of the Universe’  and accept that really only He can sort out the mess in your heart and this world, there are a few things they don’t mention in the small print.

You thought it would be all unconditional love, redemption and freedom from now on, but really you’ve inadvertantly signed up to the thing known as the Christian Subculture.  Whatever church you have become part of has it’s own culture for you to learn and attempt not to be assimilated into.  There are rules to be followed, standards to live up to and ways to behave. It would take more time than my busy day at work allows to list all of these, and anyway they’d be slightly different depending on the church you’ve found yourself in and the country you are in. Last night saw such a mighty rejection of the rules down here that I feel compelled to record it.

Last night my husband broke one of the cardinal rules of the prayer circle.

Picture the scene. There are three or four of you, you’ve all shared your prayer needs/wants/avoidance of the real issue in your heart and now it’s time to pray. You all know the drill. It’s a bit like the last scene in The Waltons (I really have no idea what that scene is about, I’ve just read The Beach) where they say g’night to each other. You have to pray for one person only in the group. They then pray for someone else, who then prays for someone else. You all get cover, no-one feels left out and everyone goes home happy (although if the circle is bigger than 6 it all gets a bit awkward as no-one is really thinking about praying, just:  is everyone covered? who prayed for Bob? did anyone pray for Bob? do I have to pray for Bob? but I’ve just prayed for Jane, I can’t… oh phew someone is praying for Bob. It all gets a bit sweaty).

There are more subtle rules as well: You can’t pray for everyone in one hoover prayer as everyone else only has silence to offer and feels awkward praying the same prayer for someone again. Two people can’t pray in turn for the same person – what was wrong with the first persons prayer that the second one felt compelled to restate the issue before the Almighty?

It’s one, then another, then another until we’re all prayed for. That’s the rule. Deal with it.

Except last night my husband broke the rule. He was in a circle of three. Someone prayed for him. He flouted all convention and prayed right back at her. The third person was left hanging. What to do now,?  The first person will have to pray again, this time for the third person.  Who will the third person pray for? Herself? That breaks all the conventions. Talking to God about your own problems in a prayer meeting? Not cool. Seriously not cool.

Has anyone else experienced such rule breaking going down in their neck of the Christian woods? Lets out these people. (purely for repentance purposes you understand…)

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7 Responses to In homage to Stuff Christians Like

  1. When I used to meet with AJS and CH (names obscured for those not in the know!) I can only presume one of them wasn’t listening – because I was regularly prayed for twice while one of my brothers was left, as they say, hanging…

  2. hoveactually says:

    that’s clearly because they loved you more, you were the lynch pin of the group, if you’d have left that would have been the end of them praying together. Do they still talk? 🙂

  3. Sally Reeve says:

    This made me laugh – thanks!!

    3 more rules:

    1. The final prayer must start with the words ‘And so Lord…’
    2. No one must pray after the ‘and so Lord’ prayer, even if someone in the circle hasn’t been prayed for.
    3. If you think of someone to be prayed for who you forgot to mention when prayer needs were being shared, you can pray for them, but you must give their potted life history first – telling God where they live, their relationship to you, why they need prayer etc etc. Actually praying for them is optional at this point.

  4. hoveactually says:

    Genius Sally, pure genius!
    🙂

  5. anna faro says:

    genuis to all of it mate! i love your encapsulation of the oh so familiar yet clearly ridiculous. Tell kevin to do something that bit more outrageous next time, for all our blogging pleasure 😉

  6. When I used to meet with PS and CH (names obscured for those not in the know!) I can only presume one of us wasn’t listening – because PS was regularly prayed for twice while one of us was left, as they say, hanging…

    😉

  7. John Walker says:

    Last night our church leader, Betsy, decided not to pray after the first lump or worship. When they always pray. And everyone in the room stared in confusion. And she laughed. A lot. And pointed out how easy it is to get religious about that sort of thing.

    Re. small prayer things. A guy I met in Guildford once described such time as “a time of cow prayer”, because everyone goes, “Mmmmmmm” throughout each other’s praying. Pointing this out at the beginning can make for an excellently awkward time. Do try this.

    Although as you get more charismatic, the cows become more evolved, and start gabbling away while someone’s talking.

    My favourite game to play during these times is to count how many times people say the word “just”.

    “Lord, I just really want to pray right now that Simon can just really receive the blessings that he just really needs right now Lord. I just pray this in your name Lord.”

    I’m possibly not very good at praying.

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