Monday, June 01, 2009

Programmatic Prayers

(Part One: "How's the Reception?")

The TV pastor concluded his message on being available to God through prayer this way. "I want you to bow your head and close your eyes with me." He adjusted his sleeve and checked his wristwatch. "Just for a moment. Just for brief moment. I want you to pray with me."

More absurdity. Here the preacher was telling me to take time, turn off the television, make space for God to speak, for me to pray. But what I saw was a preacher squeezing in a prayer before the show ended. No matter whether I had been watching in my living room or sitting in the audience, I saw a preacher who sincerely believes that we need to make time to pray but was unwilling to use the church gathering as one of those times. (If not with the gathered church, then when?)

The programmatic nature of many churches these days inhibits to opportunity for God to actually be in control. There's a schedule to maintain. When it's necessary to finish on time in order to turn over the parking lot and start the next service on time, the movement of the Holy Spirit (of God himself) gets squeezed. Okay God, we'd love to have you show up and work among us, but you've got a 2-minute window for that to happen. Go.

Again what the preacher said was contradicted by the context in which he said it. This conflict undermined the message he wanted people to take home. Instead of using the medium, or reforming the medium to reinforce his message, the medium stood at odds with the message. The message could be powerfully communicated if the medium were aligned to drive it home.


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