Saturday, August 04, 2007

Ill at Ease

Maybe I have secrets. I don't really think so, but you know. It's possible. I just don't like people overhearing my conversations with other people. It makes me self-conscious. It doesn't really matter what I'm talking about or to whom I'm speaking.

For instance, if I'm at a restaurant with some friends and someone asks me a direct question, I feel the need to lower my voice in answer. Which can be problematic if it's a loud restaurant. And if I were talking to my brother on the phone in the living room and Roommate-Rachel came home and started cooking in the kitchen or something (which is purely hypothetical, mind you, since Rachel asserts she doesn't cook--although she did the other day), I would probably take the phone upstairs, go into my room and shut the door. Even if David and I were only talking about Dinosaur Comics or something.

So, given my natural proclivities, and adding to that the fact that Jesus told us to go into our rooms and shut our doors when we talk to God, is it all that weird that I feel really uncomfortable praying aloud? I mean, in front of other people?

Then again, there is also biblical precedent for praying in groups. And, you know, I did grow up in this evangelical subculture, so it's not like I haven't had years of practice. And yet, I find I still can't really do it.

After Catholic church, Dear Friend Paulina and I went back to her place and had lunch and then sat down on the floor in the living room to talk to God about (and on behalf of) each other before I left. We recapped for each other the specific things we're each experiencing, or trying to decide about, or thinking about for which we feel a conscious need of God's assistance. (As if we weren't completely helpless without Him to do anything.) Then, one at a time, we rehashed each other's list to God.

I noted that, as I was doing this, once again I said things like, "Lord," and "just" far more times than necessary. What's up with that? (Stay tuned for Monday. I think I'm as reticent to tease this issue out as I am actually to pray aloud, but I really do have a train of thought here.)

Photo by jennw2ns: Hidden flowers. 2006.


jasdye said...

the last passage reminds me of an *article* i read some time back in, i think it was larknews or the other evangelical on-line Onion about God forcing a moratorium on "just"s in prayer.

i am a close-talker too. i think i was conditioned to talk that way (mumble, really) from watching old movies where when someone has something thoughtful to say, they say it quietly, and thoughtfully.

but, of course, i'm never mic'ed.

Heather said...

Once again, I'm with ya, Jenn. I do not like praying out loud.
And yet, Chris and I pray together every day. It's good for me, I know, to pray out loud with him (although there are still some mornings when I'll take a pass).

kristin said...



Inihtar said...

I struggle with this too, and find that it's disturbingly guilt-inducing, as if I'm ashamed to pray out loud. But it's not really, is it? It's just that it's. . . well, difficult!

Last Christmas, I went for lunch (or is it dinner?!?!?) with a big group of friends, and friends of friends, none of whom were Christian. We started to talk about New Year's resolutions, and I said I wanted to be a better Christian. At the end of the meal, they decided to send me off on my resolution a week early, and asked me to pray. Sadly, my general discomfort with praying aloud, the unfamiliar group situation combined with the unexpected request meant that I didn't make as good a use of the opportunity as I could have. :(

Jenn said...

Jasdye--nice! As for mumbling, which I definitely do, in my case, I think it's a combined issue of heredity and a bit of insecurity in what I'm saying. I'm always afraid people are going to find what I say boring . . . and interrupt me . . . and so they often do.

Heather--it's good to have at least a person or two with whom one can practice such things. I definitely (in spite of the post I JUST put up) think that praying corporately is important. Only it is, as you know, so difficult for some reason.

Kristin--I'm not sure I know what you're saying, although I think maybe it's because what *I* was saying wasn't clear. I think people should pray constantly. (It says so in the Bible, in point of fact.)

I think it's vitally important, and just because it's hard for me doesn't mean I plan on stopping. Prayer is my lifeline--if I quit, I think I'd die. (That would be what a lifeline is, I guess.) I'm only writing these posts because I'm pretty sure (and the comments seem to attest) that I'm not the only person who has trouble praying in public, and I'm just trying to explore the dynamics of that.

Inihtar--thanks for your continued dialogue here! I really value your perspective. Not to mention, it's nice to meet another fellow-struggler . . . or something.

I read your anecdote and was thinking that it's one of those situations which, if you hear about someone else experiencing it (as I just did ;), you think, "Wow, what a great opportunity!", but when you're the one in the moment, you think, like Moses maybe, "Oh Lord, please send somebody else."

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