Prayer in groups

Jesus taught his followers to pray with an example prayer, Matthew 6:9-13, that begins with "Our Father" and goes on to request "our daily bread" and "forgive us our sins as we forgive" and "lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one." Those 1st person plural pronouns are fascinating to me. It seems that he expected his followers would be praying together. but just before this prayer he encourages them to not be show offs in their prayers like the hypocrites who are praying to draw attention to themselves. instead he encourages them to go find a closet to talk to God who sees what is done in secret and rewards those who pray that way. so there's a tension between show off praying and prayer in community.

times in group prayer are times of extremes for me. sometimes i feel i'm in heaven, other times i'm asleep. i think i've said before, i'm losing my embarrassment of falling asleep during prayer. why shouldn't i if i'm quiet and my eyes are closed and i'm so relaxed in God's presence? it also doesn't hurt if someone is going on and on. and sometimes as i drift into that space between consciousness and unconsciousness i dream and sometimes i get visions from God. how do i know when i have visions from God? i can't explain. they aren't normal weird semi-conscious dreams. can something be normally weird? things from God are weird weird. so weird that i'm shaken back into consciousness and start to wonder if i should share the weirdness with the others in the group. and usually when i have someone receives it as a message from God. so that's pretty cool.

some people pray together simultaneously. i've been in things called concerts of prayer. a leader will announce a request and everyone starts praying out loud for that thing. its a really neat thing. its an example of the convergence of randomness. let me digress for an instant. the study of randomness finds that random things end up influencing each other and coming into harmony. fireflies in a tree will be flashing randomly one minute and pretty soon they are all flashing on and off at the same time, making the tree they are resting on look like there's a kid at its base flipping a light switch. likewise, you can all be praying simultaneously for the same thing and you hear snippets of what the person next to you is praying and you agree with that and you pray a similar way. you had an angle and that person gave you another angle. its really cool.

regular group prayer sometimes flows like a jazz session. a thing is prayed for and the next person picks up that theme and adds a riff and so on. it doesn't always flow. sometimes one person sucks all the oxygen out of the room. he lifts up all the prayer requests very thoroughly and leaves crumbs for the rest of the group. that's not cool.

one of the hardest times for me is when all the requests have been lifted up to heaven and then there's silence. its really awkward for me. so i'm usually the guy who says "amen" first. i want the silence to end. i'm willing to be the least spiritual person in the room. but sometimes i think God wants to give something to us while we wait, a word of knowledge, a sense of His presence, some sort of reward like Jesus mentioned in Matthew 6:6. so i'm just now learning how to wait on Him. but its nice to learn with friends.

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