For many people, speaking in front of others is frankly terrifying. So why do we insist on praying in groups? I’ve had a number of conversations in recent weeks about how people struggle to pray in front of others. What are we doing when we pray publicly? Whether we are in a service, or a prayer meeting, in family worship, or with a suffering Christian brother or sister, our task is to express to God the unified desire of the Church, to be a mouthpiece, speaking on behalf of the group. The prayer of one person becomes the prayer of us all, as we are brought together to the Throne of Grace.
When I am given the joy of leading in prayer, I’m not seeking to impress other people with my eloquence, insight or theology; or to prove my spiritual stamina with long prayers or my spiritual brokenness with short ones. It’s not about me. Instead, I have the privilege of praying aloud in a way that is natural to me, while others stand with me, praying the same thing in their hearts.
Acts 2:42 speaks of a Church that is devoted to praying together; Acts 4:24 shows us what that looks like. When we pray together, we encourage one another, teach one other, we love one other by our concern, and we point one another to God, who tenderly receives the feeble cries of his beloved children.
So how can we overcome our reluctance and pray aloud? Here are a few simple thoughts to get you started:
- Be a pray-er. One of the reasons we struggle to pray in public might be that we have not learned how to pray in private.
- Let others lead you in prayer. It may take time to learn to lead in prayer, but the best way to learn is listen to others. Come along to prayer meetings, and don’t feel under obligation to pray out loud. Learn to pray quietly in those situations first, then when you are ready, lead the rest of us so we can pray with you!
- Pray for God’s help. When you know you will lead others in prayer, pray ahead of time for the ability to do it clearly and helpfully.
- Resolve to pray. Unless you intend to pray, you probably never will. Resolving to pray include determining beforehand that you will lead us in prayer, and thinking through what to pray about and how to do so in a way that others will resonate with.
- Consider how you will pray. Search God’s word to find passages that might help shape or inform your prayer, and draw confidence from the many promises that God will hear.
Remember that Jesus is praying with us and for us too (Heb.7:25), so brothers and sisters, let us pray …together! Throughout today our prayer meetings (at 7.00 am, 12.00 and 7.30 pm) will have an emphasis on our outreach and evangelism. If you aren’t able to join us today, here are some thoughts that might help you pray throughout today:
- Give thanks for LIFE exhibition, and for the many hundreds of school children and staff who enjoyed it; and pray that what they learned would not be forgotten
- Give thanks for the CE course that has just finished, and for that group as they continue to meet over the summer; and ofr recent Family Events nad Messy Church events
- Give thanks for The Lord’s Prayer Project which is currently running at St John’s.
- Pray for the 321 course that is still running, and for Just One on 8th July (there are still a few seats left on the coach if you would like to come along!)
- Pray for the Holiday Club at St. Andrew’s (9-11 Aug), and the Epic Explorers course starting in September
- Pray for the Who Cares Mission starting in September
- Pray for Bixley Farm launch on 3rd September and for the team who are taking evangelistic responsibility for that community.
- for our regular rhythm of outreach through Lunch Club, Drop-in, Leisure Club, Cruisers, Taste Cafe etc
- and for people to become Christians as they meet Jesus through us and our outreach.