If you ever get the opportunity to hear Cuban Christians pray, you are in for a treat! Whether it is one person or an entire congregation, the words tumble out in such profusion that they are like battering rams beating against the gates of hell. I can't even think as fast as they pray! Our prayers tend to be neatly packaged, often versions of the "God bless mommy and daddy" prayers we used to say as little kids. Not so with our Cuban friends! An invocational prayer that begins a worship service can last for ten minutes. The typical service we attended began with a few people gathered on their knees for a half hour before the bulk of the congregation arrives. Loud and lengthy prayers inaugurate the worship which consists of singing (no hymnals or video projection of the lyrics; it's all memorized) for twenty minutes, a minimum of a half hour spirited preaching, followed by an invitation for prayer.
People flock to the front of the temple (their term for church building), declaring their ailments. The pastor and other leaders lay hands on them, praying loudly for healing and deliverance, demanding in the name of Jesus for demons to release their hold on the individual and declaring our freedom in Christ. It is old-time Pentacostalism on steroids.
I wouldn't go so far as to say everyone ought to worship this way, but I've learned something from these experiences. I tend to be quiet and reserved in my prayers, usually offering them silently when by myself. But some time ago, I noticed various Scriptures enjoining us to lift our voices to the Lord, often with shouts of praise. The fact of the matter is, I've been disobedient to the plain words of Scripture. God has been prodding me for some time to be more vocal in my prayers, speaking out in faith what he lays on my heart.
That's the thing about mission trips. Paul said it well in Romans. He desired to see them that he might impart a blessing. Then he corrected himself, saying that he hoped they would be able to encourage each other (1:11-12). Our Cuban brothers and sisters have encouraged and corrected me, perhaps not even realizing that they have done so. For that, and for them, I am grateful tonight.