Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Home Group (11/29/07)
TITLE: The Night I Prayed Out Loud
By Betty Castleberry
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I tucked the phone farther under my chin and flipped the bacon in the skillet. “Yes, since it’s at your house. I’ve never been to a home Bible study before, though.”
“You’ll love it. You already know all the ladies. I hosted a group before we moved here. We learned a lot, and it was fun, too.”
“If you say so.”
“See you tonight.”
I busied myself with house work until almost time to leave.
Right before the meeting was to start, I knocked on Linda’s front door. I wasn’t the first to arrive. The early birds greeted me with smiles and hugs. The conversation was light and fun.
Tillie Mason had come with one of the other ladies. It was wonderful to see Tillie. She wasn’t able to go anywhere by herself any more. Her children had taken away her car keys and were contemplating moving their mother into assisted living. She still loved to come to church and church functions when she was able, though. I took a seat beside her.
Linda took prayer requests, and then we turned to the book of Acts. Tillie fumbled through her Bible, rustling the thin pages. She looked at my open volume and leafed through the pages of her own Bible again. I reached over and discreetly helped her find her place.
Linda led the discussion as we read through the fourth and fifth chapter of Acts. When it was Tillie’s turn to read, she stumbled over a few words, but did well until she came to the word Satan. She pronounced it Santa. Bless poor Miss Tillie’s heart. She didn’t even realize her mistake. I stared down at my Bible. I was terrified I might laugh if I looked up. After all, the idea of Santa in the Bible was funny, although I didn’t want to laugh at Tillie’s expense.
Soon the moment had passed, and we finished our study. We were going to close in prayer, just as I expected. However, I did not know we were going to stand and join hands, then take turns praying out loud.
I froze. Although I wasn’t shy, I had always had difficulty praying in front of others. I knew I wouldn’t be forced to pray, but felt like I should.
My position in the circle was such that I would be almost the last to pray. We reached out to one another with hands and hearts and started the prayer. Linda’s prayer was sincere, but lengthy. My mind drifted. Kelly, whose hand I held, really needed to use a good moisturizer for her dry hands.
Susan prayed next. Her prayer was also long. Tillie began to rock back and forth, trying to keep her balance. The slight swaying motion made me open my eyes a tiny bit. I was looking down, so I didn’t think anyone would notice.
Janice stood directly across from me. She was wearing the cutest little black heels. My mind drifted even farther. Where in the world had she found those?
I made an honest effort to listen to the others who prayed. It would soon be my turn, and so far, everyone had prayed out loud. I didn’t know how to get out of praying aloud, and began to panic. What would I say, and why was I worried about it? Wouldn’t I just be talking to God, like I did every day?
I silently rehearsed what I would say when I prayed. Tillie began to speak. I was next. My heart started to pound. I struggled to remember what I was going to say until Tillie’s words began to soothe and comfort me. She may have been suffering from senility, but her prayer was calming and genuine.
I was lost in her faithfulness until I realized she stopped talking and it was my turn. Hesitantly, I began a simple prayer. As I prayed, Tillie’s hand squeezed mine gently. My prayer began to take on a life of its own. The words I needed to say came to me.
Tillie’s reassuring gesture was enough to calm me. The lady who put Santa in the Bible helped me learn to pray out loud.
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