I am back from Cuba and I had a lovely time. I have been thinking a lot about some people who have asked for guidance around prayer requests. They understand that there is a risk / reward balance to intimate sharing of needs with others. If you can relate, then I hope this helps you to be wise.
Healthy trust is essential for community prayer.
There are risks and rewards to intimacy.
What are the risks and rewards of sharing prayer requests? Gossip, Privacy, Misunderstanding, Judgement, humiliation.
How do we share prayer requests in a wise community building way? That is in Part 2.
I have prayed for a lot of people. I have a lot of people praying for me. As you may know, I have been pastoring in pain for a long time. The acute pain is long gone. The fatigue lingers temporarily. Things are way better now that to God’s mercy and grace in my life. This is a new day for me! 🙂 I am well on the way to where I want to be, but I am still in process. Truthfully, I am in the good place that I am because God surrounded me with a “care constellation” of professional advisors, ministry colleagues, church leaders, caring congregation, local community members, friends and family. People have shared my pain and allowed me to minister to their deep pain as well. I have been burnt and blessed by trusting people with my prayer requests.
Community can be built by public prayer for private pain. The fact is that people experience private pain in public life. There is no where to hide when you are mourning, grieving and suffering. Life goes on even when I was stuck…bills needed paying, groceries and laundry need doing. People’s pain has to be worked out both privately and publicly and that is tricky.
Public life can complicate private pain. People in pain want to be known and cared for, not smothered, but are fragile and may avoid intimacy out of fear for greater injury. Have you been in that place? Every thought: I want help, not judgement with my addiction. I want to talk about my abuser when I am ready, and not one second before. I want to grieve a loss without being hurried up to get on with life. I want sympathy not challenge on my failures. I want pain relief from my life. Where can I go for help that is safe? How do I express my needs? I don’t want to be alone tonight, but I don’t want to talk either. I just want someone to sit beside me and watch a movie.
In ministry, I have learned that each person has different, delicate needs. Some people want questions, conversations, calls and casseroles. Other people want space, time and privacy. Some know exactly want they need. Others have no idea. To complicate it even more, what we feel can change daily. I want to be alone one day and then I want a crowd the next.
In an office, family, team or church it is tricky to find safe, supportive community. Some people would be mortified with a memorandum on their private matters, others would be offended if someone doesn’t announce it widely for them because they cannot possibly tell everyone while coping with other tasks. How widely do you want your issues known in your community?
A legitimate fear is the office or church gossip.
A legitimate threat to healing is silence!
It is a risk and reward thing.