I do not like corporate prayer; nor do I do it very well. True corporate prayer is as intimate as sexual relations. And the former can and has very much led to the latter. True corporate prayer means vulnerability. And in anyone who has received a steady diet of barbs and rejection by the visible church over the years, such are disinclined to be that exposed. I do not know how to reconcile this.
Most of what I have observed and experienced in corporate prayer is formulaic and at arms-length. I have been to one men’s group in which each man took dutiful turn praying for one of the others in a painfully formalist exercise. I expect that it is all quite ineffectual and worthless.
Wednesday prayer meetings are the worst. Above eighty percent of prayers offered deal with someone’s sickness or some other malady with pleas for recovery. I am seriously tempted to go “full heretic” and pray that someone that I know be killed off.
And then there are those who self-ordain themselves as prayer warriors. These tend to hog the allocated prayer time with largely incoherent mumbles. They might as well as be praying in tongues. Actually, it would be an improvement since we could then demand an interpreter of the tongue.
Some have complained on this count. I have hitherto tended to excuse such prayer warriors; although I have often prayed, during those ordeals, that I was snoring narcoleptic. However, there was a recent incident, in which one self-styled prayer warrior was quick and indeed manifested a readied preparation beforehand to reject a personal request in a somewhat desperate situation.
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? (James 2:15–6)
Consequently, my belief is that unless one is willing to be the sacrificial conduit in the fulfillment of those muttered prayers, those mumbles are but one long and tedious liturgical blasphemy. For if the prayer of concern is not matched by a conduct of concern, it emits the stench of disingenuity and hypocrisy. Certainly, this would inherently reduce the length of those warrior’s prayers.