Over the years, I have prayed with a lot of different people, from different cultures and different expressions of Christianity. I’ve prayed with older people whose prayers were spoken in quiet, somber, reverent King James English. I’ve prayed with Asian believers when everyone in the room was taking very seriously, all at the same time, the verses about “crying out to the Lord”. I’ve prayed, years ago, with newly-saved hippies in the Jesus Movement. I’ve prayed with people who spoke in tongues. I’ve prayed with people who were very staid and formal…very casual…very intimate…very exuberant…very passionate…very weepy…very joyous…I’ve prayed with people who knelt, people who stood, people who raised their hands, people who shouted and ran around, people who sang more than they prayed, people who wept, people who prostrated themselves face down on the floor…I’ve prayed with Catholics and Baptists and Jews and people from pretty much every Christian denomination…and even a cult or two…
All that various and sundry prayer experience is mainly because I’m not exactly a new kid on the block — and I used to get around a lot. Maybe I still do, come to think of it.
There are some seemingly extreme differences in how people pray, and even in how the same person will pray in different settings and circumstances. Certainly my “God, You are amazing and I want to worship You!” prayers are quite different from my “This situation is desperate!!” prayers. Not every conversation with my husband follows the same format and style either.
Sometimes I will use the term “prayer-compatible”. There are people you can pray with…and then there are people you can pray with. It’s not just that you can be real and uninhibited (in prayer, anyway) in front of that person, but that there is this mysterious sense of unity. You don’t have to pray exactly the same way or have the same “style” — it’s deeper than that. When you are prayer-compatible, it’s not just polite praying back and forth, or even all crying out at the same time — at that time of prayer, you are on the same page, in agreement over what you are praying, hearing some of the same things from the same God, and responding in similar ways. The prayers get real. Sometimes that other person will start praying for something that you were about to pray for…or you discover that something extremely important to you is also important to them…and you are not just praying together, you are experiencing that awesome mystery of gathering in Jesus’ name and knowing He is there with you, guiding those prayers. Your agreement with each other turns out to be agreement with Him….and you know that. Their prayers become your prayers, and yours become theirs, and they all become His.
When you find a group of people like that…or just one person…don’t let go of them. Pray your hearts out with each other. Enjoy the beautiful, powerful mystery.
It will change you.
It may even change your world.