Thursday, March 11, 2010

#129-Gang Prayer

Giving honor to whom honor is due (yet another thing Apostolics like), I must start out by acknowledging that Joel coined this term. However, after reading his home run post on the Altar Hierarchy System, I felt that gang prayer deserved an entry of its own, and with his blessing, decided to pen this post. Gang prayer as a phenomenon should be discussed more in depth, but we would do well to include discussion of the individual members and functions of the gang prayer team as well.

Gang prayer definitions and conventions
To be clear, 'gang prayer' is a noun which denotes the Pentecostal ritual of an assembly of people rallied around one, usually at the altar in an attempt to bring the person (henceforth known as the "praythroughee") to a state of physical, emotional, outwardly observable response. The praythroughee's reponse is the desired ending to gang prayer, although it also sometimes dissipates if the praythroughee fails to respond accordingly. The infinitive verbal form of 'gang prayer' is 'to gang-pray' (note the insertion of the hyphen). The verb form is often accompanied by a direct object and normally used with the preposition 'through.' Ex: The fervent congregation members were ready to gang-pray John through to the Holy Ghost as soon as altar call began.

IMHO, gang prayer has good intentions. Some of us have a need to ensure that people get what they need from God, and gang prayer, for some, is a means to that end. However, gang prayer gets tricky when it relies so heavily on an outward response. Once the person starts crying and jumping around, we can breathe a sigh of relief and go on with our business, knowing that God is still able to touch them. The downside is that though emotional responses can be positive, they are rarely indicators of lasting change. It can also get annoying because a response of a certain type is expected. Sometimes the praythroughee feels obligated to go through the motions due to that expectation to satiate the gang prayers rather than actually having any spiritual needs met.

Meet the gang prayer team
Gang prayer is not as simple as it sounds. There are specific roles that each member plays in order to maximize the chances of the gang prayer being a success. Here are the most common of them:

1. The Arm-Uplifter—That person who feels it necessary to keep the praythroughee's arms uplifted. There's some kind of Pentecostal folkloric belief that you have to have your arms upraised to receive anything from God.

2. The Whisperer—They're all up in the praythroughee's face and the Whisperer's breath can be felt as he or she whispers holy sweet nothings into the praythroughee's ear. What they say is usually soothing, always spiritual and more often than not, intelligible. (i.e. "Yes . . . that's right . . . That's the Lord's Spirit . . . don't be afraid . . ." )

3. The Yeller/Screamer—This person is also all up in the praythroughee's face, but instead of feeling his ears being tickled and warmed by soothing breath, the volume causes the praythroughee's ears to ring, making him wonder if God will then restore his hearing after He's finished having His way. The Yeller/Screamer's exhortations are not soothing suggestions, but rather firey demands, and also interspersed with unintelligible glossolalia. (i.e. "Let the Lord have his way! Recieve it! Let go! Don't hold back!")

4. The Back-Rubber—This person feels obliged to make sure the praythroughee gets a holy back rub, either in an attempt to make the praythroughee feel at ease, or out of a misguided hope that they can literally rub the Holy Ghost into somebody.

5. The Rocker—This person starts a back-and forth motion and obligates everyone involved in the gang prayer to stay in motion as well. Staying in rhythm is necessary because if anyone’s timing is off, there will be a bit of uncomfortable collision. Besides, the Holy Ghost likes it when folks move around.

6. The Clapper—These people don't usually physically touch the praythroughee. They just huddle around around and clap, maybe interspersing encouraging commands in an effort to create an atmosphere of praise around the praythroughee, thus allowing the Spirit to flow more easily.

7. The Head-Palmer—This person is either Mufasa, one of the Pillars or one of the Excited Ones, (see the Hierarchy post) and they often play the role of either Whisperer or Screamer as well. The head palm is like hitting the gas on the Spirit's movement, and it usually happens after the other six team players have already had a crack at the praythroughee for a few minutes. Once that palm is planted on the praythroughee's forehead, something better happen. It must be noted that each Head-Palmer has a special style of handling the forehead (sometimes the entire head) of the praythroughee. Perhaps discussion of head-palming styles will be fodder for a subsequent entry.


  1. Ohhh too funny!! I think every one knows who the "whisperer" is in their church, too. It's very awkward because there is that constant warm, almost moist feeling in your ear from the fact that they are less than 1" away from your inner ear. LOL

  2. "They're all up in the praythroughee's face and the Whisperer's breath can be felt as he or she whispers holy sweet nothings into the praythroughee's ear" LOL oh my gosh this blog literally makes me laugh out loud almost to the point of tears!! Keep it up! -Melissa

  3. I look at the number of posts and think #129, wow that is so many. And then I just keep thinking of how many more topics there are to go. What a cultural phenomenon. Keep up the good work.

  4. Haha - freaking awesome. I have been gangprayed on before and it's not fun. Love this one.


  5. About the Arm-Lifter, i think they use the example of the story in Exodus 17:9-13 as reason.

  6. This made me laugh! Although I know the not so fun side of being gang-prayed and having the expectations on you from the gang to react emotionally (which I hardly ever do...don't feel I need to be demonstrative in order to prove I have been "blessed") I see myself in one of the roles described (2)...

    - Emma

  7. Not concerning this blog post but your advertising...why do you have advertisements from the Church of Scientology?
    If this blog is run by apostolics...I find it disturbing to see an ad for the Scientology church on a website like this given their Bible-contradicting doctrine and methods of handling criticism from non-believers.

  8. Because SAL is not the actual owner of this website. "" is. The reason SAL is able to host this blog without a paying fee is because "" gives out contracts for advertising which is the true monetary income of this site, not the bloggers themselves. The advertisements are most likely viewed on all blogs hosted by ""

  9. That is correct Joseph. To add on, the advertisements are "SmartAds" meaning they try and match key words up in certain blogs with companies related to those words.

    We obviously mention "church" a lot and naturally it's not surprising that ads from "church of Scientology" show up.

  10. I have had miss givings on your blog, somethings I don't care for but I let be and don't usually say things. But I have started to look at your blog again and give it a second chance. Looking at it differently and have enjoyed it.

    I must say this had my laughing but I only have one really big problem with this post one that actually got me pretty heated. Other wise I would say this post was AWESOME!!! So if you could just remove this I would really appreciate it.

    (i.e. "Let the Lord have his way! Recieve it! Let go! Don't hold back!
    ...Halalalashatala!") <---- Please remove the mockery of Holy Ghost, I have been taught to NEVER EVER mock speaking tongues that this is a sin.

    Thank you,

  11. Glad people enjoyed the post.

    Jacqueline, I really didn't mean to offend anyone by adding the imitation of speaking in tongues. I didn't grow up being taught that jokes about speaking in tongues was a sin, and in fact they're pretty common (i.e. Sell-em-a-Honda).

    I would say that this really isn't the mockery of the Holy Ghost, just a lighthearted attempt to imitate what it sounds like when people scream in tongues in your ear during gang prayer. Remember, speaking in tongues is EVIDENCE that someone has the Holy Ghost, not the Holy Ghost itself. And lastly, if we removed everything that people felt uncomfortable with on this blog . . . I do, however, appreciate the fact that you gave the blog a second chance, and do hope you continue to come back.

  12. Hi Chantell & Stuff Apostolics Like,

    Thank you for your response to my comment. Yes, I did give this blog a 2nd chance but I feel that I have come to a complete decision about this blog.

    As for your response to my comment well I will be responding in my blog within the week with a post at Midnight Reflections... I want you know that it will not be an attack on your blog but my strong opinion on the subject at hand.

    If you have any questions or comments please email me directly at because I will not be checking this site anymore.

    God Bless,

  13. Jac,
    I got your email and came on to read this...Honestly, it's not even worth responding too!!! When people hav their mind made up your not gonna change them, therfore it's just a waste of your time!!! The truth is that this is THEIR site, they can do whatever they want on it just like we can do whatever we want on ours. If we don't like it all we have to do is stay off it as to not fill our minds with stuff we don't want. Personally, I think it would be more beneficial for us to focus on our kids coming to church OR even scrubbing the toilets at church than wasting our time argueing!!! :)

  14. Why do the kids have to scub toilets at church. Thats no fun, no wonder they dont come.

  15. Hmmm . . . I'm usually a pretty stubborn person when it comes to things like this, but I've reconsidered.

    Part of being a Christian is not allowing things to become a stumblingblock, and I feel that in this case, I have allowed what was meant in fun to become just that.

    Everyone will now find a very slightly edited version of the original post.