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March 5, 2010

Friday Flashback: Walk on the Wild Side

Try something new, if you dare!



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I travel all over the world for my ministry work, training small-group leaders and members in far flung places such as Curitiba, Brazil, Seoul, South Korea, and Lilongwe, Malawi. In all of these places, as well as many others around the world, the believers don't pray the way we do. When it's time to pray—and it's always time to pray, by the way—everyone prays out loud and at the same time.

My conclusion? If anyone is weird, it's us Americans. "Concert" prayer is the norm among people of all races and denominational backgrounds outside of North America.

When I asked a pastor from Malawi if they ever use conversational prayer where one person prays aloud while others listen, he said, "There is far more power when everyone is praying instead of listening to one person. When we pray with many voices, it builds faith and removes fear that others will be critical of the words the person is using to speak to God. You should try it and you will see that it is much more efficient and powerful."

Let me challenge you today. Print this page and read it to your small group when you next meet. Challenge them to take a walk on the wild side of prayer and see if it's more powerful and more effective than listening to one person voice a prayer. Then, return here and report on what happened. I'd love to know how they responded and how God moved in your midst.

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Randall Neighbour is president of TOUCH Outreach Ministries in Houston, Texas. He has authored numerous books on small-group life, leadership, coaching, and team-based evangelism, including Community Life 101 and The Naked Truth About Small-Group Ministry.

Randall blogs regularly at www.randallneighbour.com.

posted by Sam O'Neal on March 5, 2010 10:31 AM

Related Tags: Concert prayer, Prayer

Comments

Do you mean that everyone is reciting the same (memorized) prayer together? For instance, the Lord's Prayer. Or is everyone just saying their own prayer outloud, making it a mish-mash of voices (which I think would sound unusual and interesting)? (and just perhaps how it sounds to me isn't the point)

Randall is referring to the practice where everyone says their own prayer out loud, not a memorized prayer. And I think your insights are both correct: the result is interesting and confusing. It's also powerful.

What I really like about this method is that it helps group members break away from the idea that our hearing another person's prayer is an important part of the process -- that it "doesn't count" if someone prays in a group but nobody else hears the worlds (like a tree falling in the woods).

What matters is that God hears all the requests, and by lifting them up together we take the emphasis away from our own eloquence and put it back on God as the Hearer.

I think it would be interesting to get a bunch of Presbyterians to try this. I might go for it at the next retreat I attend. The atmosphere is already more informal than our usual worship service, so it might be a better place/time to start. I like the idea!

We tried this at our house church last Sunday. We were studying Rev. 19 where the "loud roar" of praise is heard in heaven and decided this would be a good time. After our regular worship time of singing, we stood and each one praised God out loud for an extended time. Half were comfortable with it and half weren't. Personally, I loved it and want to do it again. But I had experienced it before in a charismatic setting (where I was *not* comfortable with it). I think it is something you have to do several times before it feels OK. Great article!

This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! Keep up the excellent work.

There is far more power when everyone is praying instead of listening to one person. When we pray with many voices, it builds faith and removes fear that others will be critical of the words the person is using to speak to God. You should try it and you will see that it is much more efficient and powerful
Very true...

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