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Prayer as Crowd Control

Prayer as Crowd Control

Have You Ever Been Guilty of This?

I was at a youth meeting at a local church and leaned over to a good friend and whispered, “Prayer as crowd control.” He happened to be a veteran youth worker, and a huge grin formed over his face as he nodded repeatedly.

Have you ever done this? I know in years past I was “guilty as charged.” You just hear the phrase and you know of what I am speaking, right?

You walk up in front of a crowd of students (or other audience) to welcome or to introduce someone or the next item on the agenda – and no one seems to be listening. You try again, repeatedly attempting to get folks attention (seconds of failure turn into a minute) and people start shushing and saying, “quiet down.” Then it happens. You raise your voice just a bit and utter the magic words, “Let’s pray.” You pause and bow your head. Just like that – shuffling stops, voices diminish and a stillness sets over the crowd.

I became intimately acquainted with this when I became a public school teacher and one of the first days in front of the class I found I had no one’s attention and caught myself right as I was going to say, “Let us pray.”  That probably wouldn’t have had any of the desired effects – wrong environment!  At the same time, when I later reflected on the incident I realized how I had almost unknowingly come to rely upon prayer as a technique.

Prayer as crowd control

Prayer isn’t about controlling others. Prayer isn’t about pushing our agenda or a technique to acquire what we want – but too often we use it in such a fashion.

Let’s make a resolution:
No more prayer as crowd control.
No more using prayer as a transition, or as a mood setter, or program element.

It is easy to fall into the trap of using prayer in this “powerful way” but, instead let’s work harder at gaining the attention of our audience with better techniques. Let’s leave prayer as a means to give God our full attention and to align our lives to His will.  Prayer is not a technique to manipulate others or gain control; prayer is a means of submitting our will to the King of the Universe.

On earth, as it is in Heaven.

Repost from Barefoot Online. To read more from Doug at Barefoot, check out their blog.

Doug Jones
R Douglas Jones has spent the past 25 years as a volunteer, part-time and full-time youth worker in the local church and as a retreat leader. He has earned a Master of Arts degree in Youth Ministry from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Doug lives in Western Pennsylvania with his wife, Lawren, and daughter, Amelia, along with many dogs, 2 cats, 2 horses and a pony.