Students Engage in Enacted Prayer

Monday, January 19, 2009

The worship at the Sterling College chapel on December 10, 2008, didn’t involve singing or Scripture reading or a planned performance. It didn’t even involve words. Instead, the Enacted Prayer team at Sterling shared their ministry with the rest of the student body, presenting prayer in a new and unique way.
Paul Brecht, a sophomore theatre major and leader of the Enacted Prayer team, asked the students in chapel for prayer requests. One student shared her cousin’s battle with leukemia. Brecht asked two of the team members to step on the stage and portray the Holy Spirit. Three other team members portrayed the ill cousin, his brother, and the SC student who’d shared the request. As the ill cousin began to show emotional and physical distress, the Holy Spirit portrayers drew the student and brother toward the ill cousin and helped them to comfort him with embraces and support. Then one of the Holy Spirit portrayers pulled the student and brother away and gently led them to assume positions of prayer, placing their hands together and bending their heads. The other portrayer of the Holy Spirit stayed with the ill cousin, placing his hands on the cousin’s shoulders and lifting the cousin’s face to heaven. The team froze in that position and then, after a moment, left the stage.
Brecht first encountered Enacted Prayer in 2006 at the annual Festival Gathering for the Network of Biblical Storytellers. A theatre troupe from Southwest College presented, and, Paul says, “it was so powerful the pastors at the conference, people who serve in funerals and perform eulogies as part of their job, were moved to tears in a matter of minutes.“ What he saw was not performance or even acting, but the attempt to capture the picture of prayer through purposeful movement.
In the summer of 2007 Brecht saw a different group from Southwest College enact prayer, and he decided to start a group at Sterling College. After a mass email did not result in any interest, he began asking people individually, and the Enacted Prayer team began meeting twice a week. Brecht says that as the group members have continually shared requests and then enacted prayer for them, it “has built community and faith in ways I’ve never experienced before. There isn’t a single person on the team I don’t trust and respect.”
The current team members are Paul Brecht, Mollie Cline, Sara Kanary, Lauren White, Valarie Austin, John Gillen, Nathan West and Marcus Mull. Brian Allen serves as the team accompanist. But anyone is welcome to take part, either by joining the team, offering prayer requests, or sitting in on meetings. The Enacted Prayer team meets at 10 p.m. on Sundays and Tuesdays and plans to tour to local churches and hold workshops on campus.