I grew up in a church where only the person with the microphone prayed aloud. I had seen people open a service in prayer, or pray over a specific part of the service, but never participated or witnessed a corporate prayer meeting. I remember the first time I went to a corporate prayer meeting and saw people other than the pastors or elders pray.
I love to talk with God. I love the scriptures. I don’t mind public speaking. However, I was intimidated by this environment of public prayer. I wanted my prayers to resemble those of the other people in the groups. I thought that was what was needed for me to be part of this group.
I would listen to their prayers, and at times I would feel like there was something I should pray out. I would fight that prompting because I wasn’t sure so had the right words. I like to have written out what I am going to say or some type of notes because I get easily distracted. I also feel like I have to cover everything and get lost in my words.
At first, the leader would give us different passages to pray out. It gave us a place to focus. Our prayers were usually centered in those early days around unity in the body of Christ. It was good practice, but I still tried to have my prayers resemble the other people. I prayed out a lot of Psalms during those times.
Then there were times where we only had the two and one more for the prayer meeting. There was a lot of mentoring that happened during these times. The leader would just ask me to pray. For some reason in these small groups, I didn’t feel the pressure to be like someone else. There were times that what I prayed didn’t make sense to me, and she would finish praying it out. She fed off what God placed in the inside of me. I allowed my prayers to resemble the conversations I had regularly with God.
Despite the freedom I felt in the small group, when I was back in the large group it was a battle for me to step out and pray. I would feel the urgency to pray, but all my fears and insecurities would rise up. There was still this thought that my prayers needed to resemble the leaders or the other people that were praying. The leader would tell me to pray what was on my heart. When I would step out, there were times that others would then continue to pray off what I God had stirred up with me. I could have allowed that to encourage me, but I still fought the prompting of the Spirit.
When I finally got it through my thick head that my prayers were not meant to resemble anyone except Christ. God didn’t need my voice to resemble someone else’s. He did not mean for me to resemble another in what I prayed about corporately. God stirred up passions within me to pray out. He has guided my path and my experiences have given me a different perspective than others, not because my perspective is right or better, but because I can pray from that perspective. My corporate prayers should resemble my private prayers, not someone else’s. God has given me a unique voice, a unique perspective, and a unique passion. My voice, perspective and passion may be similar to another’s but they differ in that they resemble what God has placed inside of me. It is important that we be careful who we resemble because we are called to resemble Christ, not someone else.
This post is part of a 28 days series on Stepping Out inspired by the #Write28Days Blogging Challenge by Anita Ojeda.