Saturday, January 9, 2010

#60 The Long Prayer

If brevity is the soul of wit, then longevity is the soul of effective corporate prayer. No white Christian church service would be quite complete without the long prayer.

The long prayer takes up an inordinate percentage of the total worship time allotment (up to 1/6th of the entire worship experience), and only the highest level of expert white Christian has the mental stamina to remain focused for the duration of this specimen. This is why the astute white Christian mother will preempt the long prayer by distracting her family with church candy. Assuming that the purse's church candy supply has not been depleted during the offertory and/or special music, the candy is distributed to her children and husband. The candy acts as a deterrent for both prayer-time misbehavior and prayer-time sleep. White Christian mothers will use similar distraction tactics- or "dis-tractics"- prior to the passing of the communion plates.

If the gum or mint does not have the Wilhelminan longevity to keep up with the length of the prayer, many white Christians that don't have expert level long prayer stamina pass the time counting the specks of paint on the tile floor. This move gives the prayer-time "peekers" the perception that observe the hunched over white Christian that he or she is deep in prayer.

Finally, since the church bulletin went to press late Friday, the long prayer is also a great way for the pastor to squeeze in some congregational announcements that might have occurred after the bulletin's printing. "Lord, thank you for being with the Walter family during Bob's father's heart operation yesterday," updates the prayerful pastor in what is definitely a bold move. Not only was the congregation not aware of Bob's father's heart condition or need for medical procedure- the overwhelming majority of white Christian church membership can only vaguely recall that this person even exists. He might have been that one bald guy that wore the piano-key tie to his grandson's baptism three years ago... but if it's not, the congregation is forced to ask themselves, "What 'chu prayin' 'bout, Pastor?"

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8 comments:

Jake Belder said...

This post is great. I resonate with the whole thing. But having grown up in a Dutch family, in a Dutch Reformed church, I'd especially like to say how much I enjoyed the phrase "Wilhelminan longevity." As a kid I remember that while our parents fought about how loud the organ should be, we kids were embroiled in the never-ending King vs. Wilhelmina debate.

I also knew a pastor once who would pop a Wilhelmina into his mouth at the beginning of his sermon, and would somehow lodge it on the roof of his mouth. When the mint was gone, that was his cue to end his sermon. Given the longevity of a Wilhelmina, you can image how long those sermons were.

Luther Zwingli said...

Thanks, Jake. I'm curious where you stand on the King/Wilhelmina debate. Full disclosure: I've been a staunch Wilhelmina supporter for decades.

Luther Zwingli said...

Actually, Jake- you're debate reference has inspired me. I've put up a poll on the SWCL homepage so that our readers can determine the ultimate white Christian peppermint.

Jake Belder said...

My parents always preferred King, so we had those all the time. But now, I will choose Wilhelmina over King-- with one exception: you can't beat the Extra Strong King's.

kenagyfamily said...

Personally, I liked the part about praying through the annoucements. We tend to call that prayernouncements, which are similar in form to prayervitations, which is inviting White Christians to respond to the sermon while talking to God.

Anonymous said...

hate to rain on parades here, but Altoids are the official church (or anywhere else) mint. Or LifeSavers when I was a child.

Luther Zwingli said...

curiously strong comment, Anonymous.

Luther Zwingli said...

Also- "LiveSavers" could be a pretty cool white Christian candy ministry.