I’ve been really trying to avoid commenting on these Webex Worship Services. After all it is a Worship Service, even though it’s a Repeat. It’s like time travel. We are answering to a prayer from a week ago. I suppose that is just one of the paradoxes that comes with technology.
The lesson was fine. The standard lesson of proving the Iglesia Ni Cristo is the true church and then segues into obedience, offering and worship service attendance. What can I say? Standard. Because it was the 20th anniversary of the registration of the Church in Jerusalem, I was looking forward to a more profound lesson like what brother EGM taught in 1996. That was when he taught that lesson about Elijah who will Restore all things. But hey, I can’t complain.
What I do feel I need to comment on is the OVER THE TOP prayers of the ALL the Ministers who prayed. First off, they were immensely LONG. The book of Ecclesiastes says “Do not be quick with your mouth… God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few”. Those prayers were More than a Few words.
Why were the prayers so long? Because ALL THE MINISTERS who prayed had to take most of the time praying for “pinakamamahal naming kapatid” (most beloved brother) OVER and OVER again! How much can you say about the “most beloved brother?” Apparently quite a lot. From his travels despite the dangers, he went to visit Jerusalem. (But then if you think about it, the brethren who live there are the ones who are more in danger. Constantly!) And then pray about his care for us, his Administering… and on and on…
What is wrong you might say? Nit-picking are we? No. Physically it hurts my feet standing so long. Biblically, aside from NOT “keeping your words few”, the Bible also states that in our prayers, “do not use vain repetitions.” That’s basic Bible study lesson isn’t it?
And to prove that these prayers are NOT appropriate, just look carefully at this letter from the “most beloved brother” himself, before he became the “most beloved brother”, because brother EGM was still alive (in 1999) and he was instructed to write this:
What can you notice? There is a proper format that was taught not only to the Ministers but even to the Head Deacons who are also often tasked to pray in the Worship Services. We just don’t randomly shout prayers to God for our most beloved brother, here, there and everywhere.It states DO NOT REPEAT the things that have been prayed for. Even in the prayers, there must be a proper way. That’s because the book of Corinthians states “let all things be done decently and in order“. Again, basic Bible study lesson.
If you will read the bottom part of the letter, it even mentions of how the Minister must “CONTROL his emotions… wailing and exceedingly loud and high-pitched prayers are GROSS and UNDIGNIFIED”. (not my words) So does it not include those who keep screaming over and over “HALIKA.. HALIKAAA… HALIKAAAAAAAA!!!!” fall under this category? So is this just a vicious attack of “Defenders”? Or is this not an instruction of the former Administration? Or has this also been changed by the present Administration? It is clearly written that the prayer for the Administration is in the opening prayer. And if many will recall, Brother Erano Manalo even gave instructions NOT to mention his name but rather the Duty.
In the Webex worship service, the Ministers were running amok with praying, yelling and wailing for the most beloved brother in every segment, even in the prayer for the OFFERING. What made it sad was that the request to bless the offering was at the very tail end of the prayer. First and foremost, was our most beloved brother. (Sigh)
What made it really sad for me, if you really listened carefully, was that in most of the prayers, of which half was for the most beloved brother, the Lord Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, the Saviour, the Son of God, was barely mentioned. One Minister, merely mentioned Him for a moment, so that He could bring all those requests – about the most beloved brother – to God. What is He? A bike messenger? Remember, basic Bible study lesson again. Let me just copy and paste this one, it is quite long and I want to get just right:
“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”. Philippians 2:9-11
Did the prayers sound like they did this? Did they praise the name of Jesus? Did they exalt His name? Listening to the prayers this weekend it gives the impression that someone else is the head of the church and must be praised – the most beloved brother.
Please, let’s get back to the basics. Brethren are not stupid. They can tell the difference. Don’t stray from the doctrines. We know the difference.
To the Ministers, if your aim is to show that you are loyal, do us all a favour, find other ways but don’t drag us with you into uttering long, vain repetitions in gross undignified ways.
The Lord Jesus warned us already. Take heed to these warnings:
“Look out for the teachers of the Law. They like to walk around in long coats. They like to have people speak words of respect to them in the center of town where people gather. They like the important seats in the places of worship. They like the important places at big suppers. They take houses from poor women whose husbands have died. They cover up their actions by making long prayers. They will be punished all the more.”
How much clearer can these warnings be?
- Look out for the teachers of the Law.
- They like to have people speak words of respect to them
- They like the important seats in the places of worship.
- They take houses from poor women whose husbands have died.
- They cover up their actions by making long prayers.
BRETHREN, WHO ELSE CAN THESE BE REFERED TO? Read it in any Bible versions you want.
Remember, “they will be punished all the more.” Let us all pray that we get through these difficult days. And, don’t be gross doing it.