TO BARE ONE’S SOUL
I ponder the question – “What makes me so fearful of praying out loud in public?”
In the wisdom of my years, I search my mind. One thing I have learned is that if something is hard to achieve it is well worth doing. The endeavour becomes fertile ground for growth and learning.
As a child I was shy and timid. I lacked confidence as a teenager, as I was sensitive to my parents divorce, but after I married a new self assurance emerged. My interest in acting led me to join a local drama group where I was given leading roles in their productions. No mean feat for a shy person. A standing ovation on one night helped me to realise that maybe I might be good at this.
Then there was my interest in horses. I was terrified when I bought my first horse to ride. Her one goal in life was to unseat me by rearing as soon as I was astride. But with perseverance and determination I trained her to be a model horse. Then together we rode to hounds with fifty or so other horses thundering across the paddocks, and leaping over fences; undoubtedly a frightening but exhilarating experience.
In my business life I had worked with the public as medical receptionist and as a travel consultant and tour guide. I had also managed my own business. I was well used to dealing with people. But to pray in public is another matter.
As a convert to Catholicism, I had been attracted to the Liturgy of the Mass, and the quiet prayerfulness and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, but I had never been called upon to pray out loud. I left that to the Priest.
I was introduced to a Charismatic group within the Catholic Church. I was not drawn to their outward approach to praise and worship, much preferring my own quiet personal prayer. But I was forced to take notice, when, to my amazement, I fell to the ground when a priest laid his hands on my head and prayed over me. I rested in the spirit for a good ten minutes.
Being a very rational person, this remarkable event, set me thinking. I attended some Charismatic Healing Masses and went to hear testimonies of visiting speakers on the power of the Holy Spirit. I was even blessed with a healing of my oesophagus, a condition the doctors had told me would be with me for life.
With all this knowledge I was building up my spiritual appetite, so when I was invited to join the Charismatic Prayer Group at my local church, I accepted.
Now, twelve of us gather every Monday evening to worship in song and prayer. Some of us take turns in leading, and when I was first asked to be a leader I was petrified. It is so difficult for me to bare my soul in public. Fear is paralysing. My mind becomes numb and I can’t find words to say.
I remember too well when I was asked to read my work at a Poet’s meeting. I could barely hold the paper with the words upon it, my hand shook so much. Yet, I could go on stage and act out another writer’s words, but to lay myself bare by reading my own words is so hard for me. Perhaps, it is fear of rejection, or fear that I will be judged.
But I have drawn on my experience, and tell myself, ‘if it is hard it is worth doing,’ and I call on the Holy Spirit to guide me. I am still nervous, but I surprise myself when inspiration takes hold, and my words of prayer appropriate the moment. It is then I know the Holy Spirit has entered my soul and I am no longer fearful.
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