Tuesday, September 15, 2009

#40-Compartmentalizing your Prayer Requests

The following blog was conceptualized and composed by Chantell Smith from the great state of Alabama:

The Churches
You know the drill. That quaint little time between announcements and offering where we bring our collective petitions before God--prayer requests. If you're from a podunk church, it's most likely done the old fashioned way: random folks informing the congregation of their aches and pains or, for the umpteenth time, calling out the names of the usual ne'er do wells in hopes that God will lead them to do right. If you're from a fair-to-middling church, you probably have a succinct mentioning of needs written (and submitted to the service leader pre-service) on those prayer request cards (the other side is for "victory reports"), and if you're from a slick, fancy schmancy church, you just flash them on the multimedia screen.

The Categorizing
But be Apostolic prayer requests from the podunkiest of the podunk or the fanciest of the schmancy, there's one thing they all have in common--categories. Apostolics like categorizing prayer requests. They're usually divided into 4 categories: healing, salvation, unspoken and special.

Though "special needs" are usually tended to during post-altar call with anointing oil, it's generally considered a catch-all that doesn't fall under either healing or salvation.

Are we better than the prosperity doctrine Charismatics because "financial need" is not one of our big four? Nah. We have financial needs alright. They're just tucked quietly away under "special."

The Unspoken
The one that gets me is the unspoken need. The reason this category exists, supposedly, is because we don't have to verbalize our needs since God already knows them. Yet, they're verbalized by the category's very existence. If one speaks the words "I have an unspoken need," isn't it, in essence, spoken? It definitely leaves one with an oxymoronic aftertaste.

The Special Unspoken!
But there's a curious hybrid category that must be mentioned. The granddaddy of all needs, the "special unspoken." It's almost an otherworldly, mystical need. Not only is it shrouded in mysterious special secrecy, it's altogether unutterable. While healing, salvation, unspoken and special needs are stated in normal, declarative voices, the "special unspoken" is stated just a bit above the decibel level of a conspiratorial whisper. Special unspokens fill our hearts with a curious thrill, and we don't want it ruined by speaking of them too loudly.

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