Healing Line

Healing Line

Thoughts From Francis

by Francis MacNutt
April 1991

Dear Friend,

I want to share an exciting discovery with you. It's not exactly a new discovery; It's more like something I've known for a long time, but which has been confirmed by talking with people like Canon Mark Pearson and by reading books like Prayer & Temperament: Different Prayer Forms for Different Personality Types (by Chester Michael & Marie Norrisey)

This discovery has to do with prayer and how different kinds of people are best able to pray. I hope this insight helps you understand your own prayer life better — and even more — understand those who are different (since our human tendency is to critically judge those who are different from us).
To give you a little background: our staff took the Myers–Briggs test to help us understand how we were likely to relate to one another. As you probably know the first differentiation on that test is to determine whether you are an extrovert or an introvert.

An extrovert is someone who gets energized by being around people; an introvert is someone who, in times of stress, likes to go off alone to regain balance. The extrovert loves to go to parties and stay late, while the introvert wants to know when the party is .going to end. The extrovert works through a problem by talking it out with someone; the introvert, on the other hand, just wants people to go away so that he, or she, can come to a solution alone.

What does this have to do with prayer? A lot! An extrovert likes a church service with exuberant worship, with loud praise in large gatherings. An introvert desires a more quiet worship service, seeks prayer in solitude and finds Jesus m that quiet place in the heart. Being surrounded by shouting worshipers seems, to the introvert, like an obstacle to real in–depth prayer.

One way is not better than the other; they are just two different ways of finding Jesus in prayer and expressing our love 10 worship. Just knowing that there are two very different ways of approaching prayer can be a big help.

In the first place only about 25 % of the people in the U.S. are introverts; they are a minority which means that they may feel guilty if they don't respond eagerly to the expressive praise so common in charismatic gatherings. In our society introverts often are made to feel as if they are antisocial or loners, when they may just be living in accordance with the way God made them.

In the second place, all of us — but especially introverts — need times of silence 10 our worship services when the congregation can go within themselves to meet the Trinity dwelling in their hearts. We also need retreats and conferences which are specially suited to that minority of Christians who are introverted. (The traditional Roman Catholic silent retreat definitely appeals to a more introverted type.)

The Typical Pentecostal or Evangelical worship service emphasizing lusty singing and hearty fellowship, definitely suits an extrovert while the PreVatican Roman Catholic liturgy with silence strictly observed and no kiss–of–peace was tailor–made for introverts.

These differences only become harmful when the introvert judges that Pentecostal worship is over–emotional, shallow and too loud to be true prayer; the extrovert, on the other hand, may regard a quiet liturgy as 'dead' (which of course, it can be, if something isn't really going on within the congregation).

The ideal would be for each one of us to have a spiritual preference, based on our God–given temperament, but, nevertheless, to be balanced enough to enter enthusiastically into loud expressive praise and at other times, to spend time in a heartfelt prayer of silence. The "prayer of quiet" (so beautifully described by St. Teresa of Avila) may actually have an edge since it is m silence that we are usually best able to listen for God, to hear God and to respond to what God is saying rather than to what we are saying even though what we are saying ts praise and worship.

So please do not feel guilty, but rather rejoice if you relate best to Jesus in silence. It just happens that, in our culture, you are more rare. Not worse, nor necessarily better just one of an endangered species — whom we need to protect.

Love in Christ,
Francis & Judith
Rachel & David

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. April 1991 Issue