We’ve all been there. The sweat drips from your brow, the knot forms in your stomach, and your hands become increasingly clammy. It’s only a matter of moments when your number will be called and your time has come. Will you be ready?
If you grew up in church, the pressure of the “group” prayer has probably weighed on you at some point. Your youth minister or Bible study leader has said those dreaded words, “Let’s go around the group and just pray as you feel led.”
“Pray as I feel led? I feel led to just sit here and play myself in a thumb war!” you think to yourself. But at the same time, you don’t want to be known as the guy who never prays at youth group.
Jordan prays for his friend’s grandfather who has some health concerns of late. Katie prays that she would do well on the three tests she has looming at school. Michael takes the safe bet and prays for God to let His will be done in their lives.
You’re thankful that this week’s group is a little bigger than normal because it buys you a little extra time to think. Still, you’re only a few people away…
Just ahead of you, Jennifer thanks God for your group leader and their willingness to “pour into us.” As you secretly open your eyes to scan the room, you think about going back to your default prayer, but suddenly the person right in front you prays, “God, I thank you for everyone in this group, please bring us all back safely next week.”
“Oh no! She stole my prayer! What am I gonna do now?”
The time has come, the room is silent, you and everyone else know that it’s on you. Do you step up to the plate? Or do you go with the classic “I’ll pass” hand squeeze to the next person?
I would encourage you to step up and take a swing. No one’s judging you based on how “extravagantly” you pray. Just speak from your heart. Tell God how you really feel. If there’s anyone you can be “real” with, it’s the God of the universe who already knows your heart and what you’re going to say anyway. You don’t have to use big words, a lot of words, or even churchy words. Remember, as a child of God, you have the Spirit interceding for you (Rom 8:26) and again, just pray honestly.
In fact, Jesus spoke very highly of the man who’s prayer, compared to the Pharisee beside him, was very bland, short, and simple. However, the man came before God and expressed his most honest and heart-felt prayer: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13)