Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The curse of the popcorn prayer

I really just titled it that because I thought it was funny. A popcorn prayer is when you just blurt out prayers like pops of popcorn. It's a way a lot of people prayed in their youth groups and sometimes is made fun of.

Tonight I'm going to this group called "integrate". It's sortof like a church small group, but it's not your typical small group. We all hold fairly diverse opinions amongst us, but it's the first group where I've sensed there's a possibility of us having dialog without anyone sending vibes that say: "If you don't think exactly this way about the bible or faith you are bad." It's a bible study for people who struggle to be in bible studies. :)

Every two weeks when we meet we pick a topic to discuss. This week we are talking about prayer. When we were talking about why we haven't prayed together more, some of us mentioned our dislike of popcorn prayer and our negative experiences with forced vulnerability in prayer or general inauthenticity. At the same time some members of our group REALLY wish we did it more, have found it life giving and a core part of being in small group.

I think prayer in groups in theory is good and biblical and all that jazz. Do I do it? No, I feel terrified of group prayer in a way that makes me want to get up and leave. My prayer lately comes in two forms, silence where I just sit, and still my heart meditatively, or sobbing screaming to God sessions. As far as praying with people I've prayed for people, however I've let only two people total in the last two-three years pray for me when I was with them. These times have been when I was desperate, they've been one on one, and always pretty raw. (Lynnae an JH) The reason I let these people pray for me was because they didn't come in with a prayer agenda. You know how some people pray their agenda for you or pray their theology for you? eg., "I pray you are converted to reading the bible my way." Both of these people just pray God's love for me and my acceptance of myself and my gaining of wisdom. They don't pray I would choose a certain way or path. They don't pray their particular reading of scripture. They don't pray as their way to say how they think I'm wrong. They pray love without strings.

So tonight we shall see where the conversation goes. I imagine it will be quite interesting. We may even pray. But if we do I doubt it will be a popcorn prayer.


Cheryl said...

Public prayer of any sort makes me uneasy—both when I have done it and when others do it. I can't speak for everyone, but I'm pretty sure most people are more focused on saying what others around them think they should say, rather than what they really want to say.

I know there were plenty of times when I was called on to pray, and my REAL pray would have been, "God, are you even there?" Instead, I'd string together the thoughts about protection, forgiveness, healing, etc.


just me - titration said...

Totally! I'm finding this is so much more common than I ever thought!