I recently wrote a blog about unspoken prayer requests and how I thought that they were bringing about the destruction of the church.

I thought that they opened a door to disunity and gossip, and closed a door to answers and blessings from God. (Read the whole blog here.)

However, not everyone agreed with me, and that is totally fine.

One individual, T.E. Hanna, blogger at Of Dust and Kings, commented back regarding his thoughts on my blog.

His thoughts were excellent, his points were solid and I thought that they deserved a response.

A response that helped clarify where I am coming from, expand on the thoughts of my initial blog, and add the great things that Hanna had to say.

This was his response.

 

I love what T.E. Hanna had to say, because there are some things that he said that are worth discussing.

First, from what I am reading from Hanna is a very realistic approach to unspoken prayer requests. This is not a bad thing.

I am a writer and thinker that is always looking towards the ideal.

“In a perfect world this…”

“In a perfect world we would do…”

“If this would change, then this could happen.”

There is nothing wrong with this way of thinking or writing.

It is a part of our Christianity, or it should be.

God calls us to be perfect as He is perfect.

While we know that we will not be made perfect, or achieve perfection in this life, we are called to strive for the ideal of perfect. We are asked to live our lives according to a higher calling, even if we fail, even if it is difficult for us at times.

But being idealistic all the time does present a problem, and Hanna seems to have seen that.

While idealism is all well and good, there needs to be a realistic or practical aspect to writing, thinking, even your Christianity.

I can talk about high ideals and lofty goals, but without concrete ways of acting them out, they are useless.

T.E. Hanna does make a good point in that there does need to be some realistic actions in place when it comes to unspoken prayer requests, and I totally agree with him.

Idealism must be balanced with reality.

There was one other thing that Hanna talked about that I liked that I wanted to address.

He is absolutely right about using wisdom when deciding to share when it comes to a prayer request.

It would be foolish of any Christian to walk into a new community, new church, and unload everything that one could possibly need prayer for.

It could be traumatic and off putting to have a stranger walk into church and tell everyone how they have a dark sexual past, how they are battling depression and suicidal thoughts, or how they are dealing with numerous addictions or health issues.

It isn’t that a church should be unwilling to pray for people with these problems, but it can be difficult to pray with great care and concern about a stranger.

That is not the ideal.

Ideally, we should be praying for our enemies,doing what we can for the last, the lost and the least. But truth be told, it is not always easy to jump up to pray for the overburdened stranger.

If we do find ourselves in an unfamiliar church or Christian community, it would be wise to be leery of what information you share if there is something that you desire prayer for. Complete disclosure may not be the best course of action.

For example, should you find yourself in a strange church and need prayer for financial wisdom and blessing, it isn’t essential that all information is shared.

You do not have to tell the whole congregation how you are getting out of a bad business deal with a fellow Christian that decided to back stab you and steal everything that you had put into the company, and how you are now hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and that the financial institutions are going to repossess your house and car, true all that this may be.

Prayer requests are not supposed to be a cry for sympathy from fellow believers, but a call for brethren to help and bring the issue before the Lord.

It would be wise to be careful what information you share in a prayer request, especially in a strange setting. That is a realistic action.

But while that is realistic, the ideal is something that we should be striving for.

While it may be wise to limit what information you share in a strange church setting, when you are in your home church, with your church family, it would be ideal that you share some information. Maybe not the whole story, still applying the wisdom Hanna talked about, but some.

Why? Because this is your church family. These are the people that you see week in and week out. These are the people that you share an ongoing spiritual journey with. They know you better than random strangers.

How can your brothers and sisters in Christ help walk with you through a difficult time, whether it is financially, physically, relationally, or spiritual, if you can not share details?

How are we supposed to bear one another’s burdens if we have no idea what they are?

Not wanting to repeat what I have already written, but that is what the Church is called to.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6.2 NKJV

Yes, that is an ideal. it may be difficult and uncomfortable to actually share these things in reality, but we must try.

Just as God calls us to perfection, to be like Him, and we must try, so we must at least try to share with our close brothers and sisters in the faith what goes on in our lives.

It may seem spiritually and emotionally dangerous as Hanna said, but to me, that is fear trying to distract and steal something that we all desire from our prayers, answers.

Any danger that we may have to face with sharing our prayer requests and exposing our shame should be met with a flood of grace, forgiveness and understanding. Just as Christ so loved us and died, and so covered our sin and shame, so are we called to live and act.

When we are presented with a prayer request that does come with shame, and a great vulnerability, we need to, realistically and ideally, act like Jesus did.

First, because we are called to, but secondly, because we have been shown that same grace, forgiveness and understanding.

I wrote a blog about unspoken prayer requests and someone picked up the conversation and kept going.

This is what T.E. Hanna had to say.

This is what I had to say.

What do you have to say about this?

What do you think about this whole matter?

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4 thoughts on “A Response to “Unspoken Prayer Requests”

  1. I think you make some exceptional points, Reg, and I love your holistic approach.

    The fine line between wisdom and vulnerability is a difficult one to traverse. One of the critical things we need to remember (and you drive at this in your article) is that church is a community made up of broken people in the process of being made whole. This is what sanctification is about: wholeness being brought into the brokenness that sin has wrought in our lives.

    Because we are broken people being made whole, we must remember that there is, in fact, brokenness. There is also wholeness. And everything in between.

    So while I would not recommend that people expose their vulnerability to an entire body of believers that are at all different stages along this spectrum, I DO heartily push towards the need for mentors and spiritual leaders within the body. It is to these mentors that I open up my vulnerability, expose my shame, ask for accountability, and pray for healing and reconciliation with.

    That takes incredible courage and forces us to push beyond the fear of exposure. It also aligns us with a healthy path for spiritual renewal.

    “Bearing one another’s burdens” can happen when we make those burdens known to particular people within the body rather than the entire congregation as a whole. I absolutely agree that we need to avoid the sort of individualism that has robbed many of our faith communities of their cohesiveness. At the same time, we also need to operate in ways that further the spiritual formation of those individual members, and that may occasionally require a more personal approach.

    Like

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