Invitation to Boldness

Throughout the month of October, we are exploring stewardship. When someone becomes a member of a United Methodist Church, they are asked if they will participate with their presence, prayers, gifts, service, and witness. Last week, we explored presence. This week we take a look at prayer.

If you asked people the difference between a worship service and a performance, my guess is one of the distinguishing factors would be prayer. Prayer is often considered a religious activity. In Christianity, we have some prayers that are taught to us from a very young age that for many of us, become engraved in our hearts. I don't have to open a hymnal or Bible to remember the words of The Lord's Prayer. It's something that I've said so many times and sticks with me. In some traditions, there might be other prayers like the Hail Mary that are well-loved and familiar to congregations. Outside of The Lord's Prayer, for me, the prayers I remember are many of those sweet songs and rhyming children's prayers we would say or sing together in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School.

While prayers hold a prominent place in many worshipping experiences, I find often many people do not feel comfortable praying, especially out loud. Since my time as a seminary intern serving in local congregations, I often find that when I extend the invitation to lead prayer, most, if not all, of the heads in the room go down. Eyes avert anywhere in the room but on me and silence fills the room.

Is there a right and wrong way to pray? Should only certain people be leading prayer? What even counts as a prayer? This week we'll explore all this and more.

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