30.11.07

Is it Okay to Pray Out Loud?

I started a conversation on my rigorously conversational blog, Seedlings, to help me think through how things will go here.

Because I've struggled with a few questions... Is it okay to pray out loud? I mean, didn't Jesus say we should pray in secret? And, like unto it, Is it okay to let people comment here, where I pray out loud?

In the end, the decision, the need to answer these questions, has fallen squarely in my lap. After all, people had amazingly heart-felt, different opinions. (And I thank each person for sharing those thoughtful opinions.)

Several things have swayed me though. One is that people have already expressed a sense of feeling encouraged or blessed here. Some have told me so in private emails, some on my other blog, some right here in the comments. To my mind, this is part of the reason we have spiritual gifts and also why we come together to worship. As Paul says, "What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up." (1 Corinthians 14:26)

As a writer, I've already come to terms with what I felt was a very special confirmation to build people up, to "sustain the weary with a word". (Isaiah 50:4) I suppose sometimes I'll only be sustaining myself here, with these words. But I also know that I'm a public person, a writer, called to sustain others through the sharing of my life, my thoughts, my heart, my faith... through words, even those expressed to God in prayer.

And so I'm praying out loud. But not without a bit of fear and trembling. I am not so deceived to think that I couldn't become that pious Pharisee Jesus condemned, praying too louldly and waving my prayer shawl to garner attention. So if you think of it, pray for me, even as I pray here.

Now about whether the comments should be open or closed, Nikki gave me a beautiful picture during that Seedlings conversation. I thank her for that and have decided to share it here...

"...I come from a tradition where much prayer is corporate— we lift together the private intentions of our hearts in words we can sing and speak together. The candles you have on the top of the page are the sort of candles one finds in every almost every Orthodox church. When one enters, one often takes a beeswax candle or two, lighting them and placing them in sand before an icon or in a holder like the one in the photo— always with a prayer, and those prayers are as many and varied as the hands that light and place the candles. Those candles burn, beacons of each individual intention, while the whole church prays and sings in one voice and all of our prayers rise symbolically in the incense that wafts heavenward.

Perhaps your blog is your candle. It's your quiet intention in the midst of our incense cloud of prayers. The beauty of the comments that are in the right spirit is that they become other candles in the holder— the whispered prayers others leave behind when they approach the quiet place you have created. They allow the blog itself to be less about you and your private experience, and more about the ways our experiences of the Holy overlap."


So here I am praying out loud. Quite comfortable if you come in and put a candle beside mine or say "Amen." If I don't talk back, comment back, well, please understand... I did learn something from my Catholic mama's "Shhh...." all those childhood years, when I wanted to talk even as the candles flickered through glass cylinders of emerald, ruby, sapphire.

"For everything there is a season... a time to keep silence, and a time to speak." (Ecclesiastes 3:7) Lord, give me the wisdom to know the difference.

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3 Comments:

Blogger NaNcY said...

When God flickers the thought of your soul across my mind and heart, i will lift up a prayer for the words that you put here and for the words that cross your heart to God at any time...and for your heart and soul and for mine as well.

30.11.07  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

I popped over hear due to the hyperlink on seedlings - after leaving you a smart alec comment that is - little time to read in the past few weeks.....

Oh my goodness, the linked post from seedlings is one I didn't read - and that is my life verse - for over 20 years - it's just worked out differently in my life and with my spiritual gitedness, it comes out in exhortation and biblical counseling.

How very cool for God to use you and your writing and the same verse to encourage to me to keep with counseling even when it seems draining and hard - with the same verse yet.

Praise be to God from whom all blessings flow...

Wow - I have goose bumps - thanks to you both - you and God - it's been a rough day and I really needed the encouragement I just found here!

30.11.07  
Blogger Terra Hangen said...

Wow.
I visited your three blogs and am very blessed by them.
You are reaching people by your words of encouragement and healing.
I know you miss your gardening grandma, and I feel for you and your dad.
I had a recent loss and know that our loved ones are in a joyful place, where there may be plenty of plants.
"The Great Divorce" by C.S. Lewis has my favorite depiction of heaven; a truly lovely place.

26.5.08  

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