Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Prayer, and other annoyances

Actually, I'll start with the other annoyances, 'cause they're easier to write about:

So, I like House. It amuses me, keeps me entertained, and whiles away hours if I need them to be whiled away. Because I don't have access to Sky, I watch House on DVD, when the series ends. I enjoy doing this because I can watch them in my own time, have access to the extras, etc.. I was recently watching series 4 on DVD, and as I went through the various discs, I watched the extras on said disc. Now, series 4 was the one affected by the writers strike, so there were only 16 episodes, across 4 discs. It would make sense then, to have any extras that contained spoilers on the last disc. But no, it's on the third disc, and still four episodes away from the completion of the series - and I now know it all ends. Well done, FOX. I blame FOX because a) they're right-wing nutters, b) they put out House, so they have some part to play, and c) they cancelled Firefly. Enough said.


With regards to prayer: I really don't like prayer any more.

Now, before I get lynched, necklaced or excommunicated, I probably should point out that by 'prayer' I mean 'prayer in groups', or 'praying out loud'. I find it increasingly difficult to avoid switching into holy mode. This is a really extreme example of this: (Thanks to Jesus Needs New PR)

[A minor aside - this woman is crazy. I agree with the essence, I disgree with... well, everything else. A coven of vampires... really?]

Back to prayer: We so easily slip into this holy mode, or start playing language games. For instance, we often at the start of prayers say something along the lines of: 'Dear Father, we pray for Ethel, who has broken her leg.' This feels a bit like we're announcing to everyone else we are currently with who we are praying for, 'cause God sure doesn't need to be told. We then say something like 'We ask that you bring her peace at this time.' Who talks like that?! We're told that prayer is conversation, that it's when we talk to God. But I wouldn't be caught dead talking to a friend like that, why God? I suppose it's because God is thoroughly other, but... really?!

Worst of all, I'm always subconciously on the listen for the 'PHOA' or 'Prayerful Hum Of Approval'. I feel less and less like my prayers, especially when in a group, are talking to God, and more and more like I'm saying the right things on our to-do list.

I suppose what I'm saying is that I feel my prayers aren't genuine any longer. I'm sure God hears them, and translates them from Christianese, but I wish I could break out of these cliches.

So, thoughts? Opinions? Should I be burned at the stake? Etc.


Clairebear said...

completely agree that prayer should be about having a conversation with God. I never liked prayer in groups, it leaves me thinking that I can't say what I want to say, in case of disapproval. thanks for v oicing it. love and miss u xx

David said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Claire. It often takes a lot for people to summon up the courage to pray in groups. Then we have these silly unwritten rules we have to abide by!

Glad I helped by voicing it. x

Tango Man said...

Group prayer has some amazing stories to tell, but it's not for group satisfaction. If you're praying to the boss, why worry about the thinkings of the group. They should be caught up in the boss as well and not scoring your "performance". Maybe you just need a good "handbagging", for the good of your soul, naturally!

David said...

Tango Man, thanks for your thoughts. However, I'm not entirely sure what you're going on about. "Handbagging"?!

Anonymous said...

I struggle with prayer too. I am not sure I have the first clue how to pray - to really pray I mean, authentically and relationally as opposed to what we are taught to say. I don't connect very well to listening when others are praying. I switch off when it doesn't feel genuine.

The other question is - if we don't know how to pray in groups or out loud, how do we know how to pray individually? It isn't like we can see other people doing it, and learn by watching.

Elizabeth said...

As I said to you earlier, Dave, I know what you mean. I get angry during group and corporate prayers. Argh! Even when we pray the Lord's prayer, we say it so monotonously like it doesn't mean anything. Who prays that prayer and really comprehends exactly what it's saying EVERYTIME they say those words?
And Rach, I feel exactly the same. I know my walk with God was at it's best when I taught myself to think in conversation with God, throughout the whole day, absolutely anything and everything. He didn't seem to mind too much I zoned in and out.
It's only since I've picked up my nice heavy burden of guilt and shame back up that I don't feel like my prayers are good enough to pray even on my own, never mind in a group situation. Pah. I should listen to myself.
Maybe we should start a revolution of prayer?! Not that I really know what prayer should 'look' like.

Cait said...

I feel the same way a lot of the time. It's hard for me to think that group prayers and "proper" prayers are really giving me a good connection with God. It's almost like I'm being someone I'm not, and God knows it. I mean, he gets the point sure, but it's weird to say it in a way that's not really conversation. On a random sidenote, I was very angry when FOX cancelled Firefly. I loved that show.