I was baptized a Methodist, confirmed an Anglican, went to a Catholic school and married to a man who is Pentecostal. As for prayer, I join different Christian churches during revivals, all night services or weekly prayer services depending on my availability and schedule. All I am trying to say is that I prefer to say I am a believer of Jesus Christ rather than attaching myself to any particular denomination. However, I have a soft spot for the Anglican Church where I have worshiped and served since childhood.
During a weekly prayer service at a charismatic church few years ago, I walked out before the service was over not out of anger or pride. It was with the realization that it was the wiser thing to do at the time. Here was a service going so beautifully with the elements of praise and worship, a good preaching and a fire filled prayer time. Suddenly, it was announced that the man of God had a special direction for singles who wanted to be married soon. The congregation became excited as many shouted and clapped in excitement. My ears perked, what could be this special direction? After all I was single and wanted to meet that wonderful man. All singles in the congregation were asked to stand up for prayers.
I was shocked when almost three fourths of the congregation stood up both men and women, young and old. And this was obviously a very large congregation with singles including the widowed, divorced and single parents. The head pastor who was to give us his revelation on how to grab our perfect matches was obviously shocked that majority of his congregation members needed life partners. So here I was standing and looking around with interest at both those standing and sitting. I observed that among the few seated were old men and women whose primary concern had little or nothing to do with Marriage. I patiently waited for the special revelation that would have me walking down the aisle with my prince Charming in no time.
The head pastor then announced that we were all to move to the conference room for that juicy piece of information. I was not too pleased because I knew the conference room was much smaller than the Church room. But the charismatic man of God made it sound as if any unmarried person who missed that information was doomed to singleness. As I pondered what to do next, I realized the excited congregation of singles had began heading towards the conference room after the head pastor. Not wanting to be disobedient towards a man of God, I followed suit.
When I got to the conference room, the place was already full and I had to squeeze myself at the back. I am not a tall person so imagine how frustrated I was standing at the back. However, i could see the podium as i anxiously waited for the head pastor. The heat had become unbearable, the sweaty odor from the close contacts too much for me to handle. After dealing with our demons in fervent prayer by stumping our feet and clapping our hands, most of us were not smelling our best. I felt like suffocating but i did not want to miss the special prayers and direction that was supposed to move me from Miss to Mrs. I stood waiting with the others despite my discomfort until i could take it no more.
Then I asked myself a simple question; if I don’t hear this juicy piece of information or receive this special prayer, will I never get married? Will God not answer all the prayers i have already offered to him? Will He be displeased if i walked out without the direction needed to move me to the next level? As if in answer to these questions, my body moved with its own will as i began to move towards the exit on my way out. I sighed with relief at the fresh air that greeted me. I looked around to see if there were other rebellious singles like myself. Seeing others would have made me feel less disobedient but I was the only one.
Wait a minute; I said to myself, who I am trying to please. If I suffocate in there, I will be dead before my husband arrives. After all, do I need to be in a crowded congregation before God answers my prayer? No, Jesus died for me so I might live. Whether I stand in the building or leave to my private prayer closet at home, he still hears me and will answer in his own time. God, I prayed silently, thank you for listening to me wherever I am. Answer me in your own time and do not let me behave in desperation. And in his own time, he did answer.
I am not urging you to walk out of church like I did that fateful day; I have stood in the heat several times. I am just sharing with you how wonderful it is to realize that God does not reside only in church auditoriums. That his grace abounds for all of us whether we stand behind the pulpit or sit in the congregation only if we believe.