136 thoughts on ““Unspokens””

        1. Um … there’s a problem with this response. I’ll just zip my lips and move along. Nothing to see here.

        1. Fundyfacinated, if the person’s name is in blue not black, you can click on their name and be taken to their blog (or whatever blog they chose to link to).

  1. I always thought the Unspoken was mentioned only as a means for a person wanting attention. i.e. “Most of you have no pray requests to even mention yet I have one that’s so burdensome and sinister…I can’t even tell you ‘underlings’ what it is” πŸ‘Ώ πŸ‘Ώ

  2. What if the unspoken is for someone else? And what if it’s “very special”? 😯

    1. That’s what all of my unspoken requests were; I honestly never heard of using “unspoken” requests for personal sin. I was always taught (from the Bible no less) to confess your sin to God, who will forgive you, and if you mess up again, just confess the sin to God again. No need to have anyone pray for you about your sin!

    2. That’s what all mine were: prayers for classmates who didn’t come to our church who I knew I’d be judged for praying for.

      After the time I got told off for adding a classmate with a badly broken leg to the list because ‘he’s out of the hospital, why are you putting him back on the list?’ even though he was in a wheelchair with his leg stuck straight out in front of him and could barely make it to his classes because of the tiny elevator to the second floor of the school not being built for anything wider or longer than a standard powerchair – and was clearly miserable no matter how much he kept a smile plastered on his face – I didn’t want to take the risk anymore.

  3. I’ll never forget the time in my fundy church Sunday School class (adult age, and split by gender) when during prayer time one of the guys announced that he was “having problems with masturbation.” This was a group of probably 15 guys or so. The awkward silence…

      1. I’m reminded of the applicant for a church office who was asked if he was a “practicing homosexual” and answered, “Eh, I’m good enough at it by now that I don’t really need to practice much any more.”

    1. Oh wait, maybe he was trying to say that he thought he might be doing it wrong, and needed someone to show him how. Apparently you were no help.

      1. That was my first thought, too: It’s really not that hard … er … I mean difficult … to do.

    2. Read in a youth ministry blog, where a guys small group was sharing prayer requests. One of them said he was struggling with masturbation. Another guy said, why, it’s not that difficult. Everyone laughed.

  4. Matthew 6:3b
    “…let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

    John 13:27b
    “…That thou doest, do quickly.

    90% of people do this in the shower, the other 10% sing.
    And do you know the song they sing?
    ummmm, that’s what I thought… I’ll pray for you. πŸ˜‰

      1. I once worked a night shift at a newspaper. A male co-worker called a female colleague on our office phones to talk about a page she had worked on. Lifting the page, he asked, “Do you know what I’m holding in my hand?” Mistaking him for a random heavy breather, she said, “Dude, if it only takes one hand, I’m not interested!” and hung up the phone.

        Thus she got the reputation for being the coolest and cleverest person in the office.

    1. Making me think of the little old lady who named her parrot “Onan” because he was always spilling his seed… 😳

  5. Sorry, Darrell. I think you crossed a line on this one…

    And, I’m really going to be upset if someone has an unspoken request at church tonight…

  6. Of all the times I have had an unspoken prayer request it was never about masturbation. I certainly would not have mentioned my unspoken request if I had known what the perverts in the pew thought I was referring to.

    1. Haha, that’s never what I thought (not until now). But I will totally admit to letting my mind wander because most of them I knew enough about to know their other dirty secrets. So if I didn’t know what their unspoken prayer request actually WAS, I knew what it SHOULD have been. (Ah, judgment, isn’t it great?).

      1. Ha! As teens, my friends & I would entertain ourselves by writing down the most outrageous guesses as to what the unspoken requests really were.

        Sweet old widder lady voices an “urgent unspoken.”
        Translation: Need massive funds to pay my bookie.

        It was highly entertaining. Of course, any unspoken voiced by a male under 60 was almost always guessed as porn addiction, masturbation, or impotence. 😈 πŸ˜†

        1. Why is it that faith healers, on TV, never cure men with impotence? They could make millions!

        2. The problem is, if they then demonstrated that they were cured, as is customary in faith-healer shows, the TV station would lose its license.

      1. Nothing wrong with masturbation. One can recognize that everyone does it without thinking in detail about what that means.

  7. All of my unspoken requests were about other people that I didn’t want to gossip about. But thanks for ruining that for me! πŸ™

  8. This being Wednesday prayer meeting night, I think I will skip prayer and we can all go home early πŸ˜‰

  9. I have to admit, trying to imagine what the “unspoken” request might actually be was an rather enjoyable mental exercise during those prayer meetings.

    I was even in a church a few times where the pastor would take shouted requests from the congregation, followed by this question: “How many of you here have other unspoken requests?” And probably 75% of the (large-ish) congregation would raise hands. Now I’ll never get that image out of my head. πŸ˜€

    1. I remember that as well, from a church we were in when I was quite young, maybe 7 or so. The prayer sheet even had a little blank line where the number of unspoken requests went – they actually counted them all while everyone’s hands were up.

  10. I never understood the point of an “unspoken” request. If it’s “unspoken,” don’t speak it. But then again, fundies do love their drama.

    1. Truly. At our church we all pray quietly while the Pastor prays for requests. There is no need to explain about my neighbor who they are never going to meet anyway. The fervent prayer of a righteous man (in Christ) availeth much. No need to have everyone’s Amen to it.

    2. I’ve always considered “unspoken” requests to either be (1) Too long and complicated to discuss or (2) involving another person whom you don’t wish to gossip about, or possibly embarrass.

  11. Ah, the memories . . . Thursday night Prayer Meeting and all the “unspokens.” I can understand making an “unspoken” request if a person wants prayer a third party and wants to protect his/her privacy. But much of the time I suspect it’s because the last thing we would ever want to do is denude our souls before the congregation and actually admit that we’re PERSONALLY struggling with something. Churches do not tolerate honesty very well, especially fundie and evangelical churches. After all, in Christ we the victory, eh? πŸ˜•

    1. But isn’t this kinda-sorta like what we Catholics call “a special intention”? “I’d like to request prayer for a special intention….” (No, I never in my life associated it with masturbation. Seriously!)

    1. . . . And “in Christ we HAVE the victory.”

      I woke up late this morning after a late-night power outage knocked everything out and I had to listen to the wind howl all night.

  12. There is a highly complex and delicate etiquette and ritual that surrounds “unspoken” requests.

    First, unlike on Stuff Fundies Like, there is no “race” to be the first to make an unspoken request. That is NEVER the first request. You must wait until someone else makes a real prayer request first.

    Second, even though everyone KNOWS that SOMEONE will make an “unspoken” request, the pastor (or whoever is taking down the requests) is FORBIDDEN from just going ahead and saying, “Are there any unspoken requests tonight?” Asking the question cheapens the value of the requests and renders them null and void.

    Third, as soon as ANYONE says “unspoken” the pastor (or whoever is taking down the requests) is REQUIRED to say, “Are there any other unspoken requests tonight?” Failing to ask the question prevents other people from raising their unspoken requests because . . .

    . . . fourth, it is FORBIDDEN to have two “unspoken” requests in a single prayer meeting. Once the first request is made and the pastor asks for a “show of hands,” it is FORBIDDEN to make another “unspoken” request even if you forgot to raise your hand the first time because you were busy trying to cook up a really good and shocking request.

    Fifth, once someone has made a real prayer request, they are FORBIDDEN from making an “unspoken” prayer request. Sometimes this rule is violated, e.g., “I stubbed my toe and I’m gonna have surgery on it, oh, and I have an unspoken.” Everyone is supposed to glance briefly in scorn at the person breaking the rule and the pastor (or whoever is taking down the requests) must sigh quietly before asking “Are there any other unspoken requests tonight?”

    Finally, there is an extremely important Order of Precedence for who can make the unspoken request each evening. Generally, a staff member and/or their spouse is not supposed to make an unspoken request. A child is not supposed to make an unspoken request. (Actually, children are pretty much only allowed to pray for lost pets . . . awwww . . . or for their reprobate daddy to “stop smoking and come to church” . . . awww.) Generally, it is better for a woman to make an unspoken request rather than a man. Generally it is better for an older woman to make an unspoken request rather than a younger woman. Generally it is better for the person making the request to be crying softly. Finally, it is usually best to defer to the parent who just dragged their “rebellious” teenager to the alter and cried and prayed and dragged the invitation out for 25 minutes.

    Should these rules be followed, one is generally assured that God will hear and answer the unspoken requests.

    1. Well, George, they actually call it an “altar” but I know what you are thinking . . . with all the manipulation and mind control that goes on there they might as well call it an “alter.”

    2. “it is FORBIDDEN to make another β€œunspoken” request even if you forgot to raise your hand the first time because you were busy trying to cook up a really good and shocking request.” <— Got a chuckle out of me

    3. OK, dumb question. This is the first time I’ve ever heard about this unspoken-request stuff, so please bear with me.

      If it’s mentioned in the prayer meeting, then how is it unspoken? Private, yes. Unspecified, yes. But unspoken? Unspoken? Doesn’t unspoken mean…you don’t speak it?

      As Inigo Montoya might say….

      1. No, no, no, you silly Catholic. You don’t understand at all. πŸ˜‰ In Baptist prayer meetings on Wednesday night, after the church service part (singing and preaching), the pastor (or a designee) takes prayer requests from the congregation and then one or two men are called on to pray. This is not just an IFB thing . . . most Baptist churches do it. There is a tradition, know one knows how it got started, that if you want to pray for something but it is so awful and dreadful and horrible that you just CAN’T say it out loud (or if you want to imply that it is), then you raise your hand (and follow all the other rules I put up here . . . no kidding) and say “unspoken” in the most world-weary voice you can muster. Then, during the prayer, one of the men will say “and Lord, we pray for the unspoken prayer requests. We don’t know what they are, but you do, Lord.” (Who says the Baptists don’t have a liturgy?)

        Wednesday evening prayer request time is the closest that Baptists come to the rite of confession.

        1. I attended Wednesday night services in an IFB church nearly every week since I was born until about 2 years ago.

          It is as Deacon’s Son describes.

      2. To answer your question seriously, Prayer Requests are exactly the same thing as Special Intentions in Catholic churchs, and Intercessory Prayers in the more liturgical Protestant churches. It’s just different names.

        But making an “unspoken” prayer request seems to be more of a Baptist thing. I’m not clear on how I can pray on someone else’s behalf if I don’t know what I’m praying for, unles the prayer would just be, “Help Catholic Gate-Crasher with whatever problem he/she is not mentioning.”

    4. You forgot the obligatory quiet eyeroll at “the attention seeker”. The guy or gal who generally lives a seemingly happy, normal life but flings themselves on the altar in tears about once a month and who always — always– has a spoken or unspoken request in every prayer service.

      1. Frequently the same person as the “grieving parent of the rebellious teen.” (Darrell needs to write an “IFB field guide”!!)

        1. Ah, yes. The Rebellious Teen (TM). There wasn’t a much greater sin than rebellion.

          How many of them just wanted to escape fundyland, and ended up rejecting God altogether because of the actions of their parents/church?

  13. I hated prayer meetings when they went to everyone stay I’m the same room. Before that the teenagers took all of us kids to a room to play games. There was always a lady who had an unspoken prayer request.

    1. They used to do the prayer requests and praying at the end of the service until they realized half the congregation was getting up and sneaking out during the invitation (guilty as charged). So they started taking requests and praying at the START of the service so that no one could escape. Grrr.

  14. At the church I attended during my yute, nobody would mention unspokens during the request time; once the “spokens” were logged, the deacon would ask for unspokens, and everyone would hold up an appropriate number of fingers. The deacon (or maybe two, if there were a lot of people there) would count the fingers and announce the total that were being prayed for that evening. I want to say that the number was reported on the attendance/offering board as well, but I can’t be certain of that. It was not uncommon to have unspokens numbering in the hundreds.

    1. Why not in the billions?
      There are something like seven billion people in the world, and most of them have more than one problem.

    2. Another church besides mine counted, huh? This wasn’t at a church in Wisconsin by any chance, was it? 😯

      1. “Another church besides mine counted?” Oh, the implications of just what that sentence means. 😈

  15. The most lifeless, routine, monotonous part of most churches is the so-called prayer request time and subsequent prayer. The vain repetition from the pulpit and the pews is so predictable in its recitation, you’d think the prayers were memorized. God is generally not a part of it, and the people have no real expectations that answers are forthcoming. BTW: I pray for my pet!

    1. Yes, but every church has their story of the prayer request that was made for 20 years and finally came true!!! (Makes God sound like Disney World – all your wishes will come true if you just believe hard enough.) Ours was a retired pastor (actually a fairly decent guy overall) who prayed for 20 years that his sister would be “saved” out of the Catholic church and one day she did!!! And the current pastor loved to trot her out from time to time as “evidence” that if you pester God long enough you will eventually get what you want.

      I much prefer the Catholic way of including in many prayers the sentiment that “only if this is your will and is good for me” then I want it to happen.

      1. Gary, no implication at all. When I added that I pray for my dog Pepper, it was sincere because I really do. I marvel that God has made dogs in particular perfectly suited to interact with us humans. They adore us, are very protective, and are very grateful for everything we do for them, as evidenced by their frolicking around, wagging tails, and utter excitment when we get home. Pepper, and our late dog, Sarge, are the two main characters in my latest book, “Canine to the Right of Me, Canine to the Left.” Hope this helps clarify.

        1. And then God also made cats to to ignore us and keep us in our place; I play doorman for five of them all the day long. πŸ˜€

        2. In October 2011, a stray lab/terrier/who-knows-what showed up at our doorstep. I haven’t been the same since. It simply amazes me how that pooch has changed my life. My hubby says (jokingly, I hope!), “You love that dog more than your kids!” Um, nooooo. Not even close. But I will say this: Coco has never talked back, given me grief, or relied on Spark Notes rather than read a simple 200-page book. πŸ˜†

          Yep, dogs rock. Mine is endlessly fascinating. When she’s not chasing bunnies and squirrels, doing her gymnast-on-the-high-beam routine on a fallen tree trunk, or digging her way to China, she’s snuggling next to me adoringly. Oh my gosh. Of course I pray for her!! πŸ˜€

        3. I often give thanks to the Lord for sending us our cat. That little stray came to us at a time when we were going through a trial, and his fury presence brought a much needed respite from it. He is God’s creature, he was a gift from our Creator and I cherish him and God’s goodness!

        4. Fury presence? Does that mean you like a hissy kitty who plays with his claws and teeth, or does he just make you giggle with this claws and teeth on mice and stuff? πŸ˜†

  16. Can’t help but think of the “Beloved” on this subject. In this video Schaap polishes a shaft back in 2004 and tells the kids that its a sin to become manager at Burger King and White Castle.

      1. I listened to JS polish his shaft, and then I listened to your distillation of his sermons in the 10 second byte. I enjoyed the 10 second one immensely.

      2. Some verse about a dog returning to his vomit keeps popping into my head … Can’t imagine why.

      3. BG, maybe you should put a trigger warning on that. It was as if I was actually there at FBCH! 😯 :mrgreen:

      1. He may have been squealing, “the knife of circumstances” there. But “circumcision” works too (in fact, it’s Biblical).

  17. :mrgreen: 1st time commentor :mrgreen:

    I always thought that during chapel at PCC all those ‘unspokens’ were probably the same…
    “Please let me hold my gf/bf hand without getting socialled.” or, more likely; “forgive me for holding hands with my gf/bf”


  18. It wasn’t at a fundy church, but I was at a fairly large singles gathering (men and women) where a guy went forward and asked for prayer to overcome a sexual addiction. I am guessing he did not get any phone numbers.

    There are some things that should stay unspoken.

  19. For everyone who saw today’s cartoon and thought, “I never thought that,” I agree. However, the deeper point is true — often in church our minds would assume the worst about someone else instead of the best. (The same way fundies like to believe any ex-fundy’s life is miserable and worldly, they often view each other that way too – “Thank God that I am not as other men” – demonstrating at the same time both self-righteousness and a lack of charity toward others.)

    1. Yes.
      What I was always told is that “most unspokens are for people having affairs and other marital problems”. Even though masturbation never occurred to me, the lack of charity is the same.

  20. At my church and during teacher’s meetings at the school, we had “unspokens” and “special unspokens”. The “special” could be used after a “regular” unspoken, because it had a higher degree of importance. And yes, “And now for the unspoken requests tonight, Lord. We don’t know what they are Lord, but you do, and we just ask, Lord, that you would…” Exactly. Every time.

    1. Ah, yes…the copious sprinkling of “just” in the pious prayer.

      “We just ask, Lord, that You would just intervene, Lord, in just every circumstance, Father. There are just so many unspoken requests, Lord, we just have no idea what they all are, Lord, but You do, and we just ask for Your intervention…” πŸ˜†

      And Fundies have the gall to complain that Catholics use “vain repetition!” πŸ™„

      1. … And in these sentences, the word “just” means nothing at all. If you can drop a word without changing the meaning of a sentence in any way, you usually should drop it.

        Some people refer to the people who lard every prayer with “just” as the “Jesus Wejus” movement.

        1. IFB Grammer class:
          Class, please conjugate “Wejus”


      2. Repetition like that are verbal commas, allowing the brain to churn trying to uncover that poor woman’s name with the goiter problem.

  21. Sorry to “one-up” (no pun) the IFB’s, but in the pentecostal church of my uthe we ONLY had “special unspokens.” As someone said above, after the shout-outs, the preacherman called for “special unspokens” and most raised a hand.
    Serious question, though: Are prayers more likely to be answered when we involve the larger numbers, as in “please ask everyone you know to pray”? A step up is “please ask your church to pray for my cousin in Kansas.”

    A Mormon friend asked me about the “just” this and “just” that in the prayers. I dunno.

  22. Being a former Mog myself I got to experience the full brunt of fundy fun at Wednesday prayer time: getting called on to pray for all of the requests. You go up to the front, try to pray without stumbling over your words or sounding stupid, try and fail to remember all of the requests, try not to go on too long, try not to quit too soon and (at least for me) suddenly have to pee very badly. I never was comfortable praying in public. I like to feel like I am conversing with God when I pray. It is hard when dozens of people are eavesdropping.

    1. I flat-out can’t pray out loud with an audience now because of things like that when I was little.

      Try being the twelve-year-old who has to remember the name of the cousin of someone she only sees on Sunday and can’t remember the name of half the time anyway because the Sunday School teacher picked her to pray for that request. Ten minutes of prayer requests, no note taking, and pretty soon I wasn’t volunteering and wasn’t doing more than the most perfunctory praying I could get away with.

      Plus I have a rich inner prayer life. With injokes. Injokes with God are not good for out-loud prayer. In had to guard every word lest I be called ‘irreverent’ for actually treating my relationship with God as a relationship.

      Add in family shenanigans involving ‘you didn’t say grace right’ because I didn’t go long-form, and the Lord’s Prayer and other ritual prayers are all I can manage in public.

      I’m still Baptist, and the people who would call those prayers ‘Vain Repetition’ are some of the same who made me end up this way. I had to turn down leading a women’s Bible Study and had a crying breakdown in front of my then-pastor because the thought of being expected to open and close with prayer as group leader was that distressing.

      And the very things people have tried to do to ‘fix’ it are the reason I can’t even say “God is great, God is good, now we thank him for our food” at a meal now. Because someone who found out I could still do that (at the same time I surprised myself by being able to) decided to lead me through it word-for-word like a four-year-old at the next meal we shared with other people as an ‘encouragement’ towards saying grace ‘properly’ again instead of just a quiet internal ‘thank you, dude’. I’d been happy I could still manage that – the rediscovered capability lasted under 48 hours and it doesn’t look like I’m getting it back again πŸ˜₯ .

      1. I don’t like praying in public, either. At all. I have taught classes before where we were supposed to begin in prayer, and I’d ask the class for volunteers to prayer. If no one did, I went ahead and did it, but even in front of a class of teens (all perfectly lovely teens, too), I felt incompetent, like it was a performance being judged.

        I have conversations with God. But I don’t even know that that would be considered “prayer” because it’s so informal. But I can’t really bring myself to do the “formal” thing because it just feels so wrong to me.

    1. Now george, that will cause you to go blind.

      Then can I do it until I need glasses like you?

      george, those are only for, you know… reading.

      Yeah, I only read the articles in there as well.

      goodnite george

      Goodnight Mrs Calabash and SFLers whereever you are.

      1. “wherever” george… w-h-er-e-v-e-r *sigh* Honestly, sometimes I feel like I’m talking to myself. 😯

  23. Some unspoken prayer requests may refer to that, but I’ve seen plenty of prayer request sites where the person with that issue just says it right out. Prayer.la is one example where I’ve seen this.

  24. Since we’re on the subject, funny story…

    I have a friend whose in prison right now. One day, when we were chatting on the phone, he told me he wasn’t getting into Odinism. He explained to me that it’s a form of the old Nordic religion (i.e. Thor and the like).

    Well I thought he said, “Onanism.” I knew I heard the word before, so I decided to look it up to get more information about what my friend was into. Boy was I suprised, and thoroughly confused about what my friend was into!

    A few more google searches with the name Thor attached to them instead of just Onanism, and I realized my mistake in hearing him properly. It didn’t really help that I did these searches while on break at work. 😳

  25. So as a Sunday morning teacher, I’ve been trying to help change the thinking of the adults away from this unspoken thing by doing two things:

    1. Set an expectation. I tell them we will pray as long as they offer “unspoken praise” when God resolves the matter. It usually gets a chuckle and often a conversation later.

    2. I write down the requests to trigger my memory for public prayer at the end and use that list to follow up the next week before taking the same requests a second week in a row. A person with an “unspoken” seldom wants to be held accountable by being asked if anything has changed week after week. They certainly don’t want to drop the unspoken without a resolution occurring.

    The results seem to have been:
    1. Some risked it and became a little more transparent and honest about their life’s struggle, decided to trust other believers and real burden bearing occurred. YAY Galatians 6!

    2. Others decided to seek counseling for habitual sin issues – to varying degrees of success.

    3. The unspoken, at least in the class I teach, is fading away as we leave the Old Paths.

  26. I thought maybe Darrell was joking about the people who make assumptions about other people’s unspokens. I never got to find out what anyone else’s unspoken was about, but that didn’t keep me from guessing. I never had an unspoken except once. I didn’t actually have a prayer request at all, I just said, “unspoken” because I wanted the attention. It wasn’t satisfying, so I never did it again. I never would have even thought about requesting prayer for the other thing, spoken or unspoken. Even as an “unspoken” it was just too embarrassing.

  27. I thought maybe Darrell was laughing at the people who make assumptions about other people’s unspokens. I never got to find out what anyone else’s unspoken was about, but that didn’t keep me from guessing. I never had an unspoken except once. I didn’t actually have a prayer request at all, I just said, “unspoken” because I wanted the attention. It wasn’t satisfying, so I never did it again. I never would have even thought about requesting prayer for the other thing, spoken or unspoken. Even as an “unspoken” it was just too embarrassing.

  28. When I was a teenage fundie, “unspoken” meant “I AM FILLED WITH ANGST, WOE. SEE HOW TRAGIC I AM. I always figured that was everyone else too. πŸ˜‰ But I was rather naive about all things masturbatory at the time.

  29. If you really want to go to the head of the line, you must voice a “special unspoken request.” That trumps an plain old unspoken request.

  30. This one may have been a bit much…. Probably could have used something else to get the same point across

  31. I always say ‘unspoken’ & I could care less what y’all think about that! Just pray for me or my family. You DO NOT have to know every detail in my life to effectively pray for me. Period. Every single church I’ve ever gone to uses the Prayer Requests as their jumping off point to gossip about others in the church. So to keep them from sinning I just say ‘unspoken’. If y’all want to figure out what my ‘unspoken’ is, the problem lies within you, not me. I also teach this to the youth girls I’m in charge of. It’s really cut down on gossip & people tend to not ‘prod’ for more info either. They are satisfied with just being able to lift another up in prayer.


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