Friday, October 08, 2010

Praying Out Loud

My children are all in school now.  For the first time in 14 years, it is possible for me to be at home all by myself.  So what am I doing?

Praying.  Out loud.

As I've mentioned before, I attend an evangelical (not fundamentalist) seminary, where the majority of my fellow students are African-American and come from traditionally black churches, such as African Methodist Episcopal or National Baptist.

And man, can they pray.

In many of the southern evangelical traditions, this is something you do.  You pray, out loud.  Often.  As the spirit moves you.  We often begin and end our classes with prayer.  The prayers are rarely perfunctory.  Frequently long.  Heartfelt.

These are not prayers carefully lined out ahead of time, words carefully chosen.  No.  These come from the heart and with enthusiasm.  With confidence.  With spirit.  With, I dare say, soul.

And with sincerity.

There is a skill and a passion involved.  I am occasionally called upon to give the prayer, and I wanted to feel more comfortable in amongst these Prayer Rock Stars. 

So I have begun praying at home.  Out loud.  Not scripted out beforehand.

When we pray silently, we have the use of a mental backspace key.  We go back and rephrase things in our mind.  Praying out loud, there is no backspace key.

I have heard the joke/statement of fact that introverts need to think before they speak; extroverts need to speak to know what they think.  Occasionally guilty, your honor.

Praying out loud, extemporaneously, I have discovered concerns and gratitude spilling from my mouth that I hadn't even been thinking about.  After I said "Amen," I thought ... Oh.  So that's what I was carrying around.

I felt the Spirit.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic! I completely agree with you! Thanks for the post. -Anna Snoeyenbos

Anonymous said...

I wrote a post in appreciation of your post on my blog Deep River:

Thanks for the inspiration!

Kate said...

Great post. Sometimes it's best not to filter what you're thinking/wishing/praying. Just go for it and say it.

Masasa said...

I really appreciate this post. Thank you! So interesting.

One thing I did for much of the spring and summer, on request of my children, is praying extemporaneously and aloud with my family before dinner. We used to sing a song at chalice lighting before dinner, but the kids got bored of it.

It was really amazing how quickly my five year old, in particular (despite difficulty with speech), started to ask to lead us in prayer himself...also extemporaneously.

The Spirit was definitely there!

Now that the kids are back in school we've started an even older practice of saying a short grace together, as it is the grace the children say (not "as a grace" per se) before snack at their Montessori School ("We are thankful for the food we eat. We are thankful for the friends we meet. We're thankful for the moon, the sun. We're thankful for everyone." And then at home we add "amen" whereas at school they say, "now let's eat.") The kids initiated this change too, but I miss the extemporaneous. It was very moving!