Friday, June 17, 2016

Prayer Posse

I have long been intrigued by the Jewish tradition of the minyan, at least ten men gathered in a group to pray. I don't like the notion that it must be men, and I deplore the aggressive resistance to women coming together at the Western Wall in Jerusalem for the purpose of prayer.

Still, this commitment to prayer as the work of the gathered faithful resonates strongly with my perception of corporate prayer.

In a delightful piece in the Washington Post Eric Brand describes the challenge of finding ten Jewish men in an airport for the purpose of prayer.

“Mincha!” That’s what you’ll hear when someone’s trying to gather an afternoon Jewish prayer group at the airport boarding gate, striding up and down the rows of seats in the waiting area, looking for volunteers.
Orthodox Jews need to pray in a group of at least 10 men — called a minyan — morning, afternoon and evening. There are specific time limits for each service, so we’ll often grab the moments before boarding to get it done. (I’m still looking forward to hearing “Mincha!” someday and seeing someone who happens to be named Brian Mincha look up and say, “Yes?”)

Most Christians struggle with whether to say grace at a meal in a public place, let alone calling out to others for the purpose of collective prayer. In the specific instance which is the focus of Brand's article a non-Jewish woman from Iowa joins the group of men he eventually rounds up because she is hoping for a safe trip. He doesn't have the heart to kick her out, which is heartening. His conclusion is: "Who knows if the merit of making the minyan kept 200 tons of steel in the air until we reached New York? I don’t know how God does his job. I just try to do mine.

What do you think of this tradition? Would it be good if Christians rounded up a posse for prayer from time to time?

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