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My Escape to Prayer

(A look back to my first experience with public prayer)

It was my first time to attend a prayer meeting since I had become a Christian, and I had no idea what to expect. Prayer requests were taken and the pastor assigned them to each of us respectively. He then instructed us to kneel at the front pew, and starting with the person at the extreme right, we were to pray audibly in turn.  Pray audibly in public? While everyone listened?

Although I kneeled along with the others, I was shaken. How could I escape?  Noting nervously that I would be second from last I tried to get a grip on myself and mentally prepare a prayer; but the more I tried to concentrate, the more intense my anxiety became.

As my turn came nearer, my panic increased. The palms of my hands were clammy, my breathing was shallow, and I suffered from the dry-mouth syndrome.  I was engulfed in my self-consciousness.

Finally, when the person next to me began to pray I could stand it no longer.  Glancing down the line of praying saints to make sure I was not being watched, I stealthily left the sanctuary – by crawling on my hands and knees past the organ, through the double swinging doors, to the corridor beyond! I waited until I heard the last person praying, then tiptoed quietly to my original place and dropped to my knees.

With relief I surmised that I was never even missed. At the close of the last prayer, just as I was rising, the pastor’s voice knowingly remarked, “And now, Penny will close our meeting with a word of prayer.” (Did I detect a chuckle in his tone?)

There was no escape this time! Falteringly, I began to pray when suddenly I received an anointing which lifted me out of my timidity to an encounter with power.  The words rang out with assurance and fervor.

The Holy Spirit makes intercession through us when we allow Him. One of His ministries is to thrust us into this wonderful realm of spiritual blessing – an escape, not from but to prayer.


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