Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I remember the first time I ever heard an "unspoken" prayer request. I was sitting in a classroom at a Christian school (when in high school) and the teacher was asking for requests. One person said, "Unspoken." I suppose he didn't want to tell everyone else what was going on in that situation.

I can understand why a high school student would say "unspoken." However, it troubles me that in the church we have many problems in our lives that we do not share with others. In fact, we don't even say "unspoken." We just keep our problems to ourselves.

Of course we will share our physical maladies with others. But, will we share our financial problems, marital problems, parenting problems, financial problems, chronic sin problems, etc. with others? Are we willing to get real with others so that they can encourage and pray for us?

On the flip side, do we want others to share their deepest problems with us? Do we even want to know them that well?

If a church is a family, which it should be, then we need to be real with one another. In order to do this, we must be willing to let down our defenses and tell others our struggles.

A related issue is that much modern church structure is not designed to foster family-type relationships. Churches that are large and program-driven often give little opportunity for folks to truly get to know one another at more than a surface level.

So maybe the "unspoken" issue is less a problem with individuals and more a problem with institutional church structure. My guess is that many people who have unspoken prayer needs (whether voiced as "unspoken" or not) would be much more willing to share in a small group, familial, church setting.

What does "unspoken" tell us? Maybe is lets us know that something just isn't right with the way our church operates.


Norma Hill - aka penandpapermama said...

Maybe "unspoken" is sometimes a way of asking prayer for others without "gossiping." On the other hand, maybe we're just better to pray with that person ourselves... and build a close enough relationship with them that they can be drawn into the family and learn to trust others to pray with them too.

And what about when our own "requests" involve others who could be hurt by our sharing?

Eric said...


Thanks for commenting.

I imagine there will always be situations where we might not express the details of a situation, especially if it would hurt someone.

In general, however, people in churches do not share their real problems with one another. I believe the typical church structure gets in the way.

Jason_73 said...

Ah... the unspoken prayer request! You just brought back many funny memories from my high school youth years. I think that may have been the first theological debate/conversation I was in, about the validity of a unspoken prayer request! Ha! If it could have only stayed that innocent and simple!

Eric said...


My daughters tell me that the unspoken prayer request still reigns supreme in youth groups. The kids usually say, "School. Unspoken." I suppose they get it from the adults. We don't want to be real with people we don't know well. What does that say about our churches?

Jason_73 said...

I'd say that it means "the church" doesn't understand the concept of being a real family, but then I was just with my family last night and we don't get it either!

Jason_73 said...

Hey Eric,

Check out this fb group


Eric said...


I looked at the FB page. Wow and sigh.