I belong to a multi-site church in my hometown of Ankeny, Iowa – just north of Des Moines – the greatest city on Earth. I have the privilege of leading a connection group (AKA a small group) that meets every Sunday night (from 5:45 to 7:15 pm if you ever want to come) with a great group of people. We talk a lot and we pray a lot. And we eat a lot. Eating is essential in any small group.
Back to prayer.
Lately I’ve noticed a few quirks when it comes to prayer so I thought I would blog about them.
A lot of prayers start out like this. “Hey God. We just wanted to say thanks for what you’re doing in our church…” For some reason, it’s become a bit of a filler or a pause used in prayers instead of the normal “um” and “uh” fillers. While it’s personally not that big of a deal to me, one could argue that we lessen God’s importance a bit. After a quick search, I see I’m not the only one that’s blogged about the “Just Prayer.” Here are a few more if you want to read their commentary:
At my previous church there was a gentlemen who was on the rotating prayer team that would lead the congregation in prayer during our Sunday worship service. Without fail, 92.6% of the time he would include the weather in his prayer. I’m pretty confident that he wasn’t a local weather forecaster or worked for the National Weather Service either. But each Sunday, he would relate the weather to a characteristic of God.
His prayers would go like this. “Dear God, Thank you for the beautiful sunrise this morning, reminding us that on the 3rd day you rose your Son from the grave…” or “Dear God, Thank you for this terrible blizzard you’ve inflicted on Iowa – reminding us all that You’re in control and we are not.”
Side note: In my very in-depth research conducted for this blog, I discovered that General Patton is famous for writing a prayer requesting fair weather from God during World War II.
PRAYING FOR MMMs
If you’ve ever prayed with a group of people, you’ll occasionally run into the “affirmer” who confirms or encourages you in prayer with a “Mmm” or slight moan. Sometimes if you’re lucky enough, you’ll even get a random “Yes, Lord!” I actually really appreciate the affirmers in my life but my problem is that sometimes it plays into my ego.
At my “normal job”, my colleague and I work with a digital agency and we almost always plow through data and metrics on a daily basis. If you have ADHD, this could be a big problem so one thing we’ve implemented to stay focused in engaged is “The Affirmation Game.” While 80% of the time we ask questions to clarify, verify and simplify their reports, we are gunning for positive affirmation from the other end of the line. “Good question Erik” equates to a single point for me. “Hmm. That’s a really great question. I’ll have to dig into that and follow up.” will sometimes elicit two points. However, the agency eventually caught on to our game and now plays it up significantly.
I have that same problem with my prayers. If I can get the affirmer in the group to give me some affirmation, I’ll keep praying – racking up points the whole time and comparing myself to someone like my wife. Surely I get more points than her.
So that’s what’s been on my mind and heart lately. What prayer quirks have you run into during your faith journey?
Grace and peace,