At my church the prayer petitions for the congregational prayers are printed in the bulletin and if anything new comes in after they're printed, they're announced before prayers are offered. The petitions go on for pages (and are lifted up silently during worship) and I'm of at least two minds aobut the whole thing -- it's an amazing witness to how people feel about prayer and the sense of collective community that shares one another's burdens; however, it's a fine line between "community information" and community "concerns."
That being said, I rarely list prayer petitions.
Late this past week my grandmother had a severe stroke. She's almost 97 and before this has been remarkably healthy. I don't know if she'll recover and if she does, what her life will be like.
Sunday morning came and I didn't list her or my family in the prayers (my dear colleague was doing the pray-ing).
I thought about it a lot, but for some reason I didn't want everyone asking and expressing their concern -- I guess I did it partially out of self-preservation and partially out of the need to be private somehow.
While I have a fairly realistic perspective on the end of her life, she's still my grandma, and when she dies it will be hard. At the core of my actions (or in-action) was the sense that I didn't need/want to be repeatedly reminded of that reality by well-meaning parishioners on a Sunday morning.
So much of our lives as pastor are public that I sometimes unnecessarily cling to or make things private that maybe don't need to be or shouldn't be.
Do I need to open myself up to their (my congregation's) care and concern? I could hardly list a prayer concern with the asterisk "she really doesn't want to talk about this; please pray quietly for her from far away," although that's what I would want to do.