Melancholy Monologues

Posted: 16 September, 2007 in Theology

Did you notice the alliteration – MM – yes, thank you, I thought it was quite good myself ๐Ÿ˜‰

Nonsense aside – this is a topic which I think most of us fail on, myself included.

One of our youth leaders at BBC, Neil, gave us a very thought provoking talk this last Friday about audible affirmation of speakers in church and generally “saying the amen” when we agree with something the speaker has said. He reminded us of our own selfishness which so often causes us to hold back our affirmation or “amen” when our hearts are stirred by the Word in worship. Our own fear of standing out or being deviating from the accepted norm. I’d like to elaborate shortly on applying this principle to our corporate or “group” prayers.

Do you find prayer meetings and praying in a group a daunting and often monotonous times of boredom?

Correct me if this is not a familiar sounding prayer which sometimes peeps into our day-dreams as we sit praying with friends:

“Dear Lord, thank you again for bringing us together again and giving us the opportunity to pray together. Thank you that we have a building to meet in. Thank you for the pastors and the teaching they give us. I pray for the missionaries of the church and that you’d just be with them (whatever that little phrase means?) I pray for all the sick that you’d just touch them (whatever that means), especially Aunty Margie in hospital. Help the people who aren’t as privileged as privileged as us. Lord, please be with us through this week. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

If that didn’t sound familiar its probably because you haven’t been to enough prayer meetings to hear the entire thing which the rest of us have pieced together from the snippets which float into your thoughts about what you’re having for supper etc etc.

Surely there is something wrong here? I’d certainly say there is. We’ve grown up learning to pray from other people who have used this boring monologue which I don’t think is sincere, forget God-glorifying. We have learned to pray just the same and guess where its landed us – prayer meetings are more often than not a chore… suffering for the gospel. (I say that reverently)

How can we fix this?

  • Well, firstly – lets remember that we are speaking to someone (already this should completely reform the prayer) Think honestly what a scintillating relationship you’d have if you were delivering this to your best friend (Note the sarcasm)
  • Secondly, lets remember we are speaking to God, Our Creator, Redeemer, Father and King. (Would you deliver your monotonous monologue to a living King/Queen, Father or friend?)
  • Just a general point here – think about your conversations with other humans/leaders/friends? Would you speak to them as you just prayed?
  • Thirdly, remember that you are praying in a group. This means you CANNOT pray the same prayer you might pray if you were on your own. I like to imagine myself kneeling before a majestic King with my friends at my side. We are speaking to Him about whats going on in the land. I simply cannot picture one of us giving a long, boring monologue about everything he can think of while the rest of us sit around like morons, goofing off, completely separated from the conversation happening in front of us until its our turn. Is that how you conduct your conversations with each other? I think not! Others participate in the conversation (for thats what it is) agreeing with the speaker etc. Also if I were really conversing with my King along with my friends, I wouldn’t deliver a long speech about everything I could think of, filling the silences with the King’s name instead of “um” and then get up and leave. No, conversations are built upon – they develop, I think we would do well to shorten our prayers and pray a few times, building on the prayers of others as you would do in a conversation

(Just an aside here Martin Luther said: “The fewer the words, the better the prayer.” which I think he based on Mat 6:7)

To sum it all up – remember that we are not speaking to an imaginary God who is “way up there” oblivious to those around us. Lets remember we are speaking to someone real, to God Himself, and that we are involved in a conversation with others – affirm them. Keeping these three things in mind will ensure that your prayers are not insincere ramblings (remember how Jesus prayed in Luke 22:44) and that they are neither boring, nor daunting! Anyone would be daunted by giving the 5 minute impromptu speeches we have become used to giving.

Join me in trying to keep an open mind and asking God alongside the disciples for God to teach us to pray โ€“ it isnโ€™t easy.


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