Call Me Scaredy-Cat

Call me Scaredy-Cat.

Bobbie's boyphoto © 2008 Diana Parkhouse | more info (via: Wylio)

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.

13 Comments

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  • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com suzannah {so much shouting, so much laughter}

    i have experienced that, but more when i did youth ministry (among high school kids and new christians). gossip cloaked nobly as prayer-sharing is ugly and hurtful and should be called out directly and gently. those communities (i hope) mustn’t understand what they are doing and how they are coming across. have you shared your concerns?

    i’m also card-carrying feminist and was just wondering this morning where the other christian women were who would probably never do a homemaking link-up. pleased to meet you:)

    • http://www.veronicamonique.com Veronica

      I vacillate on how I feel when someone says, “I’m praying for you.” I want to be able to accept it as a gesture of encouragement and compassion, but sometimes I wonder if it is a polite way of cloaking disdain for my choices. Those that have said these words to me and the tone of voice in which they were communicated have not always come across as kindness. Condescension would be what I perceived as being their radiant motivation. Still, when a friend offers to pray for me, I feel most appreciative.

      • http://silly-bear.com Sarah

        Still tricky for me to say “I’m praying” etc to anyone…usually if said person isn’t religious or doesn’t welcome prayer, I send positive thoughts which I guess is the same thing as prayer.

    • http://silly-bear.com Sarah

      I spent long time wondering if I were the only Christian feminist, but everyone in my blog roll has their feminist cards too. I think those who are new to faith don’t fully understand the fine line between gossip and genuine concern;however, my experience was with lifelong Christians. And they know better. Glad to meet you too!

  • http://www.BaptistWineClub.com Knighton

    Oh, the “I’m praying for you” thing. For me, it always felt more like, “I’m judging you and I’m going to use the prayer chain as a way to gossip about you.” Probably because they did. Often.

    Makes me sad to think about this topic.

    • http://www.halfwaytonormal.com/ Kristin T. (@kt_writes)

      I love your list of fears, and your honesty in this post. As someone who went through a divorce several years ago, and eventually had to leave the church I had been a part of at the time, I’m sure so much more of that prayer request gossip was happening than I can begin to know.

      But you’re right—we need prayer and we need to know when and how to pray for each other. Twitter is a great avenue for asking for prayer, because in 140 characters you can only say so much (and most of us aren’t running into one another in the grocery store or during church coffee hour). And when it comes to in-person requests at Bible studies and the like, maybe it would be better for us to keep the requests short and simple—maybe even vague?—to leave more room for the spirit to do the work.

      • http://silly-bear.com Sarah

        From my experience, we don’t leave very much room for the spirit to work. We want every detail not to understand but as spiritual blackmail. We spend too much time kicking each other round when we struggle.

    • http://silly-bear.com Sarah

      Prayer should be an encouragement not a weapon of hate. But I believe there are still Christians who pray to encourage.

  • frogla

    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.

    This is so poignant sarah! i welcome anyone that i feel safe with to say “i’m praying” or “pray for me”. somedays more than others i really need to feel prayers thru out the day. gr8 post! <3

    • http://silly-bear.com Sarah

      Prayer is a healing balm, and we all need it. We also need a place of safety and sometimes, God provides us with a safe haven in a virtual community.

  • http://www.emergingmummy.com Sarah@EmergingMummy

    I had a whole comment typed out but then I saw KT’s and yeah, that’s just what I wanted to say (but better). I try to stay general when there isn’t a huge amount of trust there. And thank you for this honest post!

    • http://silly-bear.com Sarah

      I keep coming back to the idea that we don’t know what truly to pray for, but the Spirit does. I think we aren’t so concerned with excessive details that we see more of the power of prayer.