Study the weekly calendars of most American churches and somewhere there will be a reference to a "prayer group," or words to that effect.
These gatherings may take place at church, in homes or at a coffee shop. The format will usually be informal, but -- after snacks and a devotion of some kind -- people are offered time to share what is happening in their lives so others can pray for them.
What is a pastor's spouse supposed to do?
Consider these numbers from a recent LifeWay Research survey of 720 spouses randomly selected from a multi-denominational list of Protestant pastors. Nearly 50 percent of clergy spouses said their candid prayer requests "would just become gossip," with 11 percent "strongly" agreeing. Half said they no longer confide with church members because they have been "betrayed too many times."
"For these spouses, the walls around them are pretty high," said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. "If you ask them to open up with people in a new church community, they're already going to be pretty cautious about doing that."
While this survey found high levels of satisfaction among clergy spouses, concerns about privacy and isolation are the "kind of thing that seminaries may need to warn people about when their spouses go into the ministry," he said.
There's more. Nearly 70 percent of these clergy spouses said they had few friends with whom they could be candid. Just over half said they had experienced "personal attacks" in their current church.
Are they are living in a "fishbowl"? Half agreed.