Praying With Old People

When the pastor at the front said, ”It’s time to pray together now,” I thought it was kind of a novel idea. Taking 10 minutes to actually pray together at church instead of getting another cup of coffee? or rushing out the door? Fancy that.

I turned to my husband thinking we’d pray just us two.  After all, we had just moved to this city and were brand new to the church. And I was uncomfortable talking to strangers, let alone old strangers because this church was distinctly filled with the elderly, let alone something intimate like praying with old people.

Of course, Mr. Never-Met-A-Stranger is right at home already (he has this weird idea that somehow when we’re in church together that it makes us all family). He promptly turned around and invited two gentlemen that – no lie – looked just like Statler and Waldorf from the Muppet balcony, to join us.  They had more hair growing out of their ears than I have ever seen in my life.

I love to pray. But now I was intimidated. What if they were the kind of men from a previous generation that think women shouldn’t be praying here? What if I said something offensive? What if I got too charismatic-y for everyone? (I have an unconscious tendency to hum while other people are praying, to whisper things like “Thank you, Jesus” or ”Amen” if you say something I really like.)

My husband introduced us and they asked us how long we’d been coming here. ”Well, about two weeks now. How about you?”

The one who looked like Statler said, “Well, I’ve been here forever but this guy is pretty new, too.” And the one who looked like Waldorf said”Yep, only been here since 1973.” They eyed us, waiting for us to get the joke, and cackled approvingly when we grinned appreciatively.

Then, out of pleasantries, it was time for business. They leaned forward to us and we leaned back towards them, our glossy heads bowed together with their bald pates and ear hair.

We prayed.