Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Serious Prayer

Wednesday mornings in the Mission Office have been set aside now for prayer meetings, 9 am to noon. I don’t take visitors, I don’t do any business – I simply sit in the reception area with whoever gathers, and we pray.

When I announced this new practice to the pastors, their reaction was largely, “What took you so long? … It’s about time!” One of the pastors told another, “Sounds like we’re getting serious now!”

Today marked our first prayer meeting. Four pastors showed up. I began the meeting by saying something like, “You already know how to pray. Teach me how Cameroonians pray!” So they put on a serious demonstration.

For those of you who have only ever been Methodist, this kind of prayer might have frightened you a little. It bordered on the Pentecostal, though without the speaking in tongues.

We began each prayer topic with a short song or chorus. Then I announced the subject and asked one of the pastors to lead us in prayer. Often the pastor would break the larger subject into more specific requests, and ask others to lead these prayers. But once a pastor began praying, everyone was expected to join right in and pray along with him.

The prayers were intense and meaningful. Sometimes our prayers were loud, voice piling upon voice, reaching to a crescendo. Then we might all get quiet, until only one voice was heard. We prayed standing, sitting, kneeling. Personally, I like to pace during prayer.

We prayed for a variety of topics, but the majority of time was spent praying individually for each one of our pastors. And we closed by praying for the pastors who were present, laying our hands on their head and shoulders, in a show of support and unity.

I can't help but feel that something had literally changed by the time we were done. The spirit in the office was different. The mood of the pastors was lighter. Perhaps the atmosphere has changed. That will happen when you invite the Holy Spirit in.

When I got home, I told Leah, “If nothing else, that’s one thing I’ve done right since I got here!!”