Your heart starts to race, palms suddenly feel like a Florida summer day, and your mouth like a jar of sand. Why? You’ve been asked to pray publicly. Some folks love the responsibility, others loathe it.
I fall somewhere in the middle. I wonder about you.
But, being given the duty of talking to God on behalf of a group is a privilege, especially if you allow yourself to enjoy it.
Here are five of my thoughts when it comes to thriving in public prayer.
- It’s really not that different than praying in private. But, we actually have to be praying alone to God for this to be true. We can’t expect to express ourselves well in public prayer if we haven’t first done it in private. This point is mainly for me, but you might be able to relate.
- It’s simple when we cut the lingo. Big spiritual words may sound good, but they are just pretentious. We wouldn’t talk to one another with such obnoxiously gaudy language, so why do we talk to God like that? My guess is we are trying to avoid looking simple or, God forbid, unspiritual.
- It’s more refreshing when we keep it genuine. From my experience, when someone prays like you would expect them to talk, everyone seems to appreciate the gesture more. Interestingly, a more articulate prayer is often the simpler one. Using language that connects with the basic psyche of everyone in the group actually represents the emotions and thoughts of those people better than pretense that’s merely filler words.
- It’s better when it’s taken slow. Remember, you don’t have to pray fast or even fluidly. You can pause, think, enjoy the silence, or do whatever you need to do to communicate what it is your group is asking of the Lord. Don’t impose a rushed spirit on yourself. God certainly isn’t in a hurry, so why should we be?
- It’s stronger when it starts with praise. It may seem awkward to genuinely praise God in front of others, so just start voicing your thankfulness to God. Stay there for a little extra time (remember, not rushed). Remind yourself and the group of what God has done, and let it sink in.
These five thoughts might make your next call to pray more fruitful for yourself and everyone around you.
Think about trying out a few pointers next time it’s your turn.