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Dear Mel Vol23 – The Pusher

Dear Mel:
I recently attended a new bible study where I pretty much knew no one. The study that night talked about prayer and praying out loud. At the end of the evening the leader of the group took prayer requests and then assigned each person one of the requests. I spoke up and said that I was not comfortable praying out loud, especially as a new person. It’s not something I want to do. I was told that everyone has to participate and then the leader moved onto the next person she assigned. I was floored. I really enjoyed the bible study but because of how the prayer part was handled, I won’t go back and haven’t been back. What do I do? I want to be part of a bible study and I really liked this group but I don’t believe I should be forced to do something I am uncomfortable with. I read your post the other day about how your husband was always being pushed to do something he didn’t want to do and thought maybe you would have some insight.
~ Pushed To Pray~

Dear Pushed To Pray:
Oh boy! This is one of my pet peeves in the family of believers. I’m so sorry that you were ignored when you spoke up. Sometimes those who have no problems praying out loud or being more outgoing, just don’t understand what it’s like to be someone who is uncomfortable or even terrified to be out there in front of others. And some of them think it’s somehow their job to push you to help you grow. There is a significant difference between encouraging someone to take a leap by saying, “Hey, I was thinking about xyz and I prayed about this and I think you should consider xyz because you’d be really good at it.”
and forcing someone to do something they’ve told you they don’t want to do!

The sad thing to me is that this has kept you from going back to the bible study that you enjoyed. Is this the only bible study at this church? Maybe you could find another group that won’t force you beyond your boundaries. If not, you might call the leader of the group and ask to speak in person. Get together for coffee or something and let them know how you feel. Tell them what you’ve shared with me. I would say, “I appreciate that you would like to have everyone pray out loud but that is not something I am comfortable with at this time especially as a new person. I may be ready at another point to pray out loud and I may not but I am going to ask you to respect this personal boundary of mine because I really do want to come and learn.”

If she’s not going to listen. You can choose not to go back or you can just tell the entire group when prayer “assignments” are handed out that you will pray silently for the request but you are not comfortable with praying out loud and will refrain from doing so. Or you can take the assignment and not speak up. They really cannot force anyone to speak.


*Dear Mel Questions are reader submitted. Have a question? You can ask it totally anonymously by filling in the Dear Mel Form. See if your question is chosen next Thursday! Readers are encouraged to leave their advice in the comments section, so give your advice and if you ask a question, be sure to come back and see what others have shared!*

 

7 Comments

  1. Excellent answer Mel! This reminds me of churches where the pastor will ask everyone in the service to gather into small groups and pray for each other. For new people, this is incredibly uncomfortable. The leaders in these situations should be taken aside privately and made aware of how intimidating it can be to pray out loud with strangers, just as you said.
    In our bible study, people were allowed to pass when it came their turn to pray and there was no judgment put on them for taking a pass. God created everyone differently. People with strong leadership or teaching skills don’t have an issue with speaking up in front of a group and they also tend to be, well, let’s just say less than empathetic with people who don’t like to speak in public. I know, I’m one of those teacher types. Sometimes we need to be reminded that our way of praying out loud is not the only “right” way to pray! 🙂

  2. In my bible study group prayer is done at the start of the evening – prayer requests are taking in from anyone who has a request. nobody is forced to pray out loud as not everyone is given this gift from God to do so and people who cann’t pray out loud pray into themesleve.

    I am very privledge to be in such a great group of brothers and sisters where there is no persurre to do something you do not have confidence in doing.

    I would go back to the bible study as you found it was a great help, remember God could have sent you to change the way things are being done within the group, my veiw is you are maybe not the only one who has a problem like this but because of the sitiuation they just feel they have to go along with it. i cover you in blessing to go back and let God work through you to do what ever he wants within in the group, should it be changing that persons heart who asked you to pray out allowed or something eles God has in store, remember theres a perpuos behind everything.

    May God bless you my Bro or sister

  3. Oh, this makes me so upset. I remember as a new believer how hard and how long it took me to utter a prayer out loud in a group and even then the words were scripted in my head as I listened to each person pray before me. I was consumed with worry about what “they” would think about my prayer! Only after getting to know the Lord more and just letting go of my fears did it get easier. If someone had forced me into it sooner than I was ready I would have wanted to run too! Mel, you offered great wisdom! Please don’t give up “pushed to pray” every bible study is NOT like this!
    Heidi recently posted..Taking the Scenic Route…

  4. i love this mel! i think having something like this (dear mel) is super helpful to your readers and i love your honesty. so cool.

    and great advice too. (i hate it when we pray around the room. it almost seems forced.)

    =)

    • I do too and to be quite honest, I think it’s a time zapper. We spend so much time just sitting there waiting for the next brave soul to speak up. Why not just pray along with one or two who are comfortable praying out loud or let everyone pray silently? Either way it gets done! And no one has to be put on the spot.

  5. Hi Mel – great post. I can totally identify. Praying in front of other people is definitely not my gift! When I’m forced to do that, I spend all the minutes leading up to it just trying to figure out what to say, which totally ruins the prayerful atmosphere.

    I saw a chart somewhere about the prayer styles of different personality types. Those who are introverts generally seem to prefer praying silently. Wish that was more accepted!!

    Blessings,
    Lisa Are Wulf
    Lisa Are Wulf recently posted..Peace Like a River

    • I do too Lisa. I think those who are very outgoing and extroverted forget that not everyone is like them and it can be a really big deal for some. And I agree, focusing on what you are going to say, takes so much away from the moments in prayer.

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