Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What Do You Say to a Silent-Type?

May 2008 46
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Silent Contributions
by Dianne Bundt, associate editor of Pray!

Several weeks ago on the National Day of Prayer, I participated in a large-group prayer gathering in our city. As with most corporate prayer events, much of the praying was done aloud. At times people used a mic to lead the rest of us in prayer. Other times, leaders instructed us to pray with the people nearby. At one point, everyone was encouraged to talk to God at the same time. People said, sang, and even shouted their prayers of agreement. It was a delightfully noisy event. Yet despite all the opportunities and encouragement to speak up in prayer, I didn’t have a lot to say. Although I was completely engaged in the prayer going on around me, you probably wouldn’t have known it by listening to me.

Perhaps you can relate to my experience. Or perhaps you lead prayer meetings and have wondered why, despite your best efforts, some participants remain nearly silent. Either way, some realizations I've had about my tendency toward silence might provide insight and encouragement.

First, I’ve realized that part of my struggle to pray aloud stems from how I’m wired. As an introvert, I don’t naturally “put myself out there” with people, especially those I don’t know well. I also like to process what others are saying and think through what I want to add before I speak up. Unfortunately, by the time I’ve thought of what I want to say, the group has moved on. So to keep up, I focus on agreeing with others’ prayers rather than scrambling to create my own.

Even if I don’t end up getting many original prayers in, however, the Holy Spirit has reassured me that I’m still an important member of the team. By being fully engaged, listening to what others are praying, and silently pleading with God to fulfill those prayers, I multiply their petitions and contribute to the spirit of unity and agreement that God desires.

So if you’re a silent type like me, don’t be discouraged. Speak up when you can, perhaps by verbalizing an “Amen” or a “Yes, Lord.” But know that your nonvocal participation is also a vital part of corporate prayer. And leaders, next time you feel bewildered or disheartened about the quieter members in your prayer gatherings, take heart: What’s said during a prayer meeting is only the tip of the iceberg. More than likely, there’s a lot more prayer going on than what meets your ears.


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1 comment:

Prayer Podcasts said...

I have always been a silent prayer, overall silent person in Church. I get it from the parable where Jesus tells of the man screaming and letting everyone hear his prayer, and the woman who prays silently by herself.

I have just always been the strong silent type I guess.