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.
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