Prayer meetings are a great thing! My husband has been in the ministry for 12 years and I have been to many of them. Most turn out great. They are a meaningful time spent with God. Prayers shared among believers. Bonds are created. What could be better at church?
But, there are those moments when things get a little uncomfortable. What started out with good intentions has somehow turned “awkward.” There are many ways this can happen. Here are 8 of my “favorite” just plain “weird” prayer moments I’ve experienced as a pastor’s wife.
1.) When 2 people start praying at the same time and both stop, neither sure if they should start again. (Insert uncomfortable silence.) Who should start again? It’s always a mystery.
2.) There are those moments that start out innocently enough. But then someone gives a prayer request, only to reveal a piece of juicy gossip while doing so. The “victim” is typically not present. You hear a few gasps from the prayer group. The next time you see the “victim,” you are unsure how to react or what to say to them. Do you mention it and say you are praying for them? Do you warn them that the entire prayer group knows their “secret.” There are no easy answers here.
3.) Sometimes a prayer request turns into a “lack of humility” moment for the prayer. I don’t think it’s intentional. They just get caught up in the moment. We were once in a church service we attended regularly and the lady praying thanked God that our church was “the friendliest church in town.” First, it wasn’t true, the church was notorious for not welcoming visitors. Second, it’s as if you are calling yourself “humble.” It’s not really something you say about yourself.
It’s like Numbers 12:3 where it says, “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” While Moses is the accepted author of Numbers, we can be pretty confident that Moses didn’t pen that part, right?
4.) There are also those moments when a prayer request turns into a sermon. A very long sermon. I’ve never figured out how to handle these. Since my husband is the pastor and typically gives the sermons, I can’t figure out if these people just have something to get off their chests or have “job envy.” Maybe a little of both?
5.) Nothing is more humiliating than when you are called on to pray and you can’t remember a single prayer request just given. It’s time for a “blanket prayer” and hope no one notices!
6.) There are also those times when someone gives a prayer request for themselves for an upcoming surgery or other medical procedure that involves a part of the body that should probably be left unmentioned in a prayer meeting. We’ve been a part of several older congregations and prayed for more than our fair share of prostate problems!
7.) There’s one in every congregation. They are the “quiet prayer.” This often leaves you forced to “peek” to see if the prayer is over. It’s never easy to determine when and if the time is appropriate. You don’t want to be the one still standing in prayer when everyone is moving about their business. But you also don’t want to be seen with your eyes open during prayer by another “peeker” and look less spiritual.
8.) When a prayer is so long you start to doze off. Then you must determine what to do to keep yourself awake without disturbing your neighbor. Or, even worse, letting them know you are having trouble staying awake!
I’ve been present when someone gives a prayer request that belongs more in a confessional than in an open prayer meeting. Once the person sitting next to me requested, “Please pray that I will stop shop lifting.” I wasn’t quite sure what to say to that person after prayer time. So I did the next best thing: I gave them a hug!
Prayer meetings are a great thing! But there are those moments, if you’ve been to many prayer meetings, that can get a little “uncomfortable.” When these happen, just chuckle to yourself. (Really, I’m serious, just do it to yourself!) I’m pretty sure God is grinning during some of them, too!
Have you ever had an uncomfortable prayer moment?