Okay so this may not have been the exact picture I am looking for above, but it will suffice. Let me describe the ideal scene I have in mind:
It's been altar call for a good 10-15 minutes now (or a break through worship service), and the mood at the altar is somber. God is moving and you begin to anticipate that this could end up turning into one of those altar calls that has no temporal boundaries. It could go hours...the Spirit is lingering and the Pastor is whispering to God in his chair...Where this winds up is anyone's guess.
And suddenly you feel yourself being drawn to a quiet time with our Savior. So you quietly resign yourself from the altar and slip into the corner of the sanctuary in a pew hunched over with head in hands. Two occasions usually call for such a prayer: Either a prayer of confession and repentance, or a prayer for a cry of help in the midst of the storm....
Either way, it's you and God mono-e-mono....and you don't want to be disturbed...
And then after 3-5 minutes in silent whispering prayer, you feel it....
And by It I mean a soft hand on your shoulder!
"Why God why?!? I wanted it to be me and you...not me, you, and the hand on my shoulder."
Suddenly your mind escapes the intimate conversation and you begin to ask....
"Who is the owner of this hand that is touching me on my back?"
"Do they have a right to be there?"
"If it's someone I don't really get along with, do I stop praying all together?"
"What if they start drawing attention to me and soon gather a crowd to hover and pray over me?"
"God, where were we at?"
"Okay, but seriously, who in the world is in my prayer closet?"
So then, while still in crouched position you begin to play investigator....
-If the hand is moving in a circular motion on your shoulder in a symbolic act of attempted comfort, you know you have a female praying for you.
-Hand motionless? Slowly crack eye open inconspicuously and try to peak at the lower region of the person who is praying for you (if they are next to you). If you see pants or skirts, this should indicate gender. You then can peak at the shoes as well, but for people like me, that hint is pointless because I really don't pay attention to who wears what shoes....
-If the "helping hand" is clearly coming from someone standing up or sitting down behind you, you are in no man's land....just try to grunt through the prayer for a couple more minutes to be polite to their actions of intended support. And pray you don't get mobbed by a pray-gang (future post).
I understand that there are some people who do need support in prayer and would love nothing more than for someone to lend a "helping hand" to their back as they pray through their regret/anxiety. For these who enjoy the helping hand we thank you fellow helpers out there for all your patience as people pray their way to emotional/spiritual breakthrough.