Public Praying

Often prayers that are uttered in public seem to be done on auto-pilot. There are certain words or phrases that are repeated seemingly without thought as to whether they fit the context of the prayer. It seems that when we open our mouths to pray, part of our brain shuts down.
When our girls were young, we determined that we were not going to teach them the rote meal blessings (God is great, God is good...etc) We thought we'd teach them to think about what they wanted to say rather than just recite a memorized prayer. Interestingly, they invented their own rote meal prayers, memorized them and repeated them over and over.
I had a student in my youth group who used the word "Lord" as a punctuation mark or instead of saying "er" or "uh". He was totally unaware until I pointed out to him that in a brief (two minute) prayer he'd said the word "Lord" twenty eight times. The next time he prayed publicly he was almost tongue-tied.
Here is how I deal with the temptation to shift into auto-pilot. Before the prayer, I remind myself that I'm communicating with God aloud, and others just happen to be eavesdropping. I make a conscious effort not to pray for the benefit of the audience of many, but rather to the audience of ONE. I find that if I'm not careful, I'll begin to address the wrong audience. (I once served with a pastor who would preach two sermons in the same service; one in the normal fashion, and the other in his closing prayer.)
Anytime we approach the Lord in prayer, be it public (aloud) or private (in our minds) we should be very aware of what we are doing and what we are saying. Anything else trivializes one of the greatest gifts that God has given us; the gift of a personal audience with Him.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

God is on the Job

Learn to Pray "Chain Prayers"

Thoughts on the Vegas Massacre