Call me Scaredy-Cat.
Like everyone else, I am totally afraid of certain things. I am freaked by snakes, falling, heights, spiders, and the words “I’m praying for you.” Yes, the casual greeting exchanged in so many Christian communities terrifies me. This fear is only eclipsed by the words—prayer list, sharing of joys and concerns, and who has a prayer request. During these times, I cringe, remain silent, fumble in my purse for a mint or a piece of gum, try to look interested, but really I am wishing this time over as quickly as it began. Panic, fear mingle together as each person shares his or her request, and prayer is offered for the spoken needs. I wish I could be like every other Christian and find this part of Sunday School or Bible Study as an act of worship, but I can’t.
Prayer itself doesn’t terrify me, but the glorified gossiping during prayer request time does. Far too many Christians hide their gossip behind the veil of sharing a prayer request. We focus on sharing the “story” surrounding the prayer request just so we can hear what other may know. Like I said, we Christians are a wonderful lot who glory in each others failings and relish the retelling of others’ lives. Some of the most graceless times are when we should be lifting each other up in prayer rather than whispering tales of woe amongst ourselves.
Perhaps, few have escaped this gossip frenzy. I haven’t. I have felt the side-ways glances and heard the hushed whispers of speaking ill of me. Confronted for my feminism, my word choices, whatever parts of me unacceptable, but only after the story had circulated amongst other well-meaning believers.
I still need prayer and the strength to share my requests with others. Some believers who have never met me can simply write, “I’m praying.” And I feel their prayers. These prayers offer me a healing balm that believers do still bring requests to God without the baggage of gossip.