The Prayer Circle

We all have a story. We all have a before that has led us to who we are today. It’s a personal story that is riddled with both the broken and the beautiful. It’s the broken that tends to have more power and influence over us, especially if anyone ever finds out about what was, who we were before today. Opening up can be the hardest thing to do, because we know how it feels to have our story, our pain thrown back at us in a backhanded way. Especially in the prayer circle.

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I have had the privilege to be seated in circles with people that I trusted. To listen and pray over some intense pain and amazing triumphs. But there is nothing more cringeworthy than when pain turns into telling someone else’s story. You know how it goes, I’ve been there. I’ve started sharing how upset and hurt I am by a friend or loved one’s actions and before you know it I’m laying out all of their mess, telling their story in a “safe place” prayer circle.

Hear me it is okay to open-up about how a situation is making you feel and the struggle you are going through. That is what community is for: to carry, encourage, and pray for your struggles and growing pains.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16

BUT, when it crosses over to naming names and how their sin and actions are causing you pain, that is not your story to tell. It’s their story. It’s painfully hard to not get into all the nitty-gritty details of how that person is messing up and hurting you, but at what cost?

I’ve also been on the flip side. I’ve been the one whose sin was aired through prayer request and conversation, and then showed up at church with people knowing intimate details of my life and judging me because of my mess that wasn’t their business to begin with. I was robbed of telling my story and being able to answer a key question: “why?”

Before we ask for prayer for the pain that someone else’s actions have caused us, let’s consider the other person; respect their privacy and stay as vague as possible. Focus more on what we are feeling and dealing with as a result and pray for the other person to find healing and Jesus in the midst of their pain. That one day they will feel safe to join a community and share their story and find healing; not judgment. Gossip and prayer are two different things and sometimes it's hard to tell the difference when gossip is dressed in prayer clothes.

I’m learning and trying to be better with what I tell others to pray for. They don’t need to know all the details to know someone in my life has hurt me, and I’m hurting and struggling with how to handle the situation along with my hurt. If something is serious and I need help or advice, I can go to someone I trust, but prayer circle is not the place to seek help or advice.

The prayer circle should always be about praying for each other and a safe place to voice my requests, not tell someone else’s story through the lens of my hurt feelings. I have no right to judge when I’m guilty of hurting the feelings of those around me. And especially when I know how it feels to be prejudged by what has been shared in a prayer circle.

We have the privilege and honor of carrying each other’s pains in prayer. My prayer is that the prayer circle will become a place we all feel safe to be honest with what we are going through; and not places where we gossip or find material for gossip in Jesus’s name.