In Sunday School this past Sunday, I made the comment that I was going to call on someone in particular to pray. I knew that this person wasn’t comfortable praying in front of a group of people, which is understandable, and I was just joking with her. I, like my father the retired pastor, don’t ever call on someone to pray without knowing they will say yes. If I don’t personally ask them beforehand, I have heard them pray in “big church” before.
I have been praying in big church for several years now and don’t really get nervous even in front of large groups of people. That hasn’t always been the case, though. Back in 1992, when I first started going to Santuck Baptist Church, I became a sort of regular offering-taker-upper. I had grown up in small churches and Santuck was a huge church to me and for the first time I didn’t know practically everyone in the church.
At some churches, there is someone who is designated to pray at the offering time. At Santuck at that time, the minister of music would call on one of the offering dudes to pray. So, the six of us offering dudes take our places at the front of the church and as the music and singing stops we close our eyes and wait for the music guy to call on one of us. Now, I had only been going to this church for a short time and didn’t know everyone’s name and everyone obviously didn’t know mine. So when Rod Rodie, the music dude, said, “Brother Chad, would you lead us in our offertory prayer?” I just figured there was a guy named Chad who would start praying. After what seemed like forever with no one praying, I raised my head and looked up at Rod who was by now staring a hole through the side of my head.
I was Brother Chad. Brother Chad was not ready for this. Brother Chad was mortified. Nobody had ever asked me if I was comfortable with praying in front of a big crowd. I wasn’t.
I managed to ramble through a prayer to the Lord, at least I hope that’s who I was talking to because I don’t recall the exact content of the prayer. What I do remember is that at the end I said, “Forgive ME for MY sins, Amen.” As if to say, “Don’t worry about these other 300 or so people who are in this room with me now. I’m not really concerned with their sins. Let them ask for their own forgiveness. It’s just me and you God.”
The rest of that service is mostly a fuzzy memory as it took all the way to the invitation hymn for my heart to get back under 140 beats per minute. There are still several people who call me Brother Chad to this very day because of that incident.
Ever since that day, though, I never assume they aren’t going to ask me to pray. So, like anyone who has ever prayed in public, I always start going over what I will say in my mind so as not to be caught off guard again. Don’t tell me you guys don’t do that. You’ve got an offertory prayer, a closing prayer, and a whole collection in your head.
Thanks for visiting with us here on the blog today. Hope to see you back here again next time. Troy Evans, would you close this post with a word of prayer?