Tuesday, September 23, 2008

To pray or not to pray ... in public that is.

So yesterday I walked into the middle of a church service. No, it wasn't Sunday and no I didn't go to church. Rather I went to the doctor's because Ashes wasn't well.

At first I was a bit bewildered - all the nurses and some of the patients (I assume they were patients) were sitting, listening with rapt attention to this guy that was at the front of the room. Not being a Twi speaker (or was it Ga?) I said my good mornings and sat down to wait for a nurse to attend to us. A second after sitting down, the rest of the 'congregation' stood up and everyone began to say their own individual prayers. Realizing what was happening I got up - out of respect. Looking around slightly bemused - not at the persons but just at the situation in which I found myself - I made eye contact with the 'preacher' whose own look in no uncertain terms indicated I was doomed to hell. After wards as he walked around shaking hands I made the second faux paux of the morning by digging into my hand bag ( was trying to find the health card) - now I know he was convinced that I was one of those yet to be saved!

Now don't get me wrong. I am a Christian and yes, I do say my own prayers. But religion has always been something that is private for me. I have never been one to wear it on my sleeve so to speak. However, here in Ghana I think there is the expectation that I should. Not just me alone, but in fact everyone. I find my self having to always qualify that yes, I am a Christian and yes I do believe in God, despite my dreadlocks and despite me not going to church - or bringing my daughter - every Sunday.

Prayers are a part of every meeting - especially where I work. Sometimes it is interesting to hear the 'prayees' who seem more interested in their own eloquence than really asking for guidance in terms of what has to be done. I remember a particularly difficult meeting that we were having once on some issues that had to be resolved and the particular individual who was on the hot seat so to speak suddenly said ' oh, let us pray'! After a long, devout prayer which the person ended with a resounding 'amen' they were then most apologetic because they to leave for another meeting! End of that discussion. Hmm.

Yesterday's unintentional attendance also reminded me of the days of using public transport in Jamaica - the church services on the buses (selected routes or so it seems) usually ended even with 'collections' being taken before the final stop.
Am not sure if the same thing happens here.

Have resolved - though not followed through - on going to church more often though. But yes, would prefer for that attendance to be voluntary and not mandatory or in my doctor's office.


Tessa said...

I was in trust hospital and the woman I shared a room with was one of the fruit/dried shrimp sellers from in front of barclays. Her entire church congregation stuffed in to the room to pray over her and then kindly asked if I would like to be prayed for. They all lay hands on me and worked to cast my sickness out. Thinking about it now makes me smile. I do so love reading your blog,thank you. Warmly, Tessa (a former resident of Accra)

Denise said...

Hi Tessa, that must been quite an experience! Hmm, I also guess that it worked :-) as you are here commenting on this post. Thanks for leaving your comment as well - its nice to know that people do take the time out to read my rantings and ravings. Kind regards, Denise.

Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

Well, wouldn't they love to take the credit for Tessa's recovery (though she was certainly going to recover anyway)! It is the 'thing' here to assume everybody is christian or speaks one particular language or has the same ideas of morality as the next person. I don't even think of these things anymore. Vent on, Denise! :-)

Yngvild said...

I couldnt say it better myself (of course). I havent been commenting on your blog but this one was sooo "ghana" and something I've really experienced alot myself. And I dont call myself a Christian... so in all those meetings and any circumstances there is praying, you are stuck between the being true to your own non-existent faith (?) and sit down while everyone is standing up, or trying to blend in by standing up and pretending to pray... :-)