In these times, it is more important than ever for us to come together to pray. May the Lord help us take this to heart! Here are some thoughts about public prayer:
1. When you pray in public, do not use that time to criticize and correct the mistakes of others—use it to pray! Prayer is our opportunity to express our concerns and gratitude to God.
2. Instead of searching for pretty words and refined expressions, speak so simply that a child could understand you.
3. Address God the Father or the Lord Jesus, not the congregation, and do not subject God and people to an insincere dissertation. Simply pray! This also means not just listing a series of facts; instead, present your requests “by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6).
4. Do not waste your time telling the Lord over and over again how great and merciful He is, and especially avoid the irreverent and wasteful repetition of requests though constant paraphrasing and the use of many words where few would be better. This saddens the Spirit of God and is exhausting for your fellow congregants. “God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:2).
5. Pray for a specific purpose and not for yourself or for things of a personal nature—that is for your private prayers. Think about glorifying the Lord and His Kingdom, about the things that are ahead of us, and about His work and His people, wherever they may be.
6. Do not say too often: “Oh Lord Jesus; oh God and Father” and the like. Sometimes, people seem to start off every sentence this way, but this, too, is an unnecessary habit. Compare this approach to that of the Lord’s prayer in John 17.
7. Say what you mean. Be direct, natural, and serious, and don’t try to be eloquent. Never pray just to pray, or to pass the time, or even to make sure that your fellow congregants do not forget the sound of your voice.
8. Do not make your prayers too long! If you have a lot on your heart, pray several times instead. In private, you can pray for as long as you want and are able, but not in public.
9. Speak loudly and clearly enough so that everyone there can understand you. What can your prayer do for the other worshipers if they cannot understand you, and how can they affirm it with an “amen”?
10. Above all, let us remember that we are called to pray “in the Holy Spirit,” “lifting up holy hands,” and “calling on the Lord out of a pure heart” (Jude 20; 1 Timothy 2:8; 2 Timothy 2:22)!
None of us should think that we can pray for strength and anointing in public if we do not actually lead a life of prayer at home, if we do not make a habit of seeking the presence of the Lord in private and of bringing our own needs to God in sustained prayer. Not without reason is prayer called the breath of the soul. Just as the physical body can only remain strong through regular exercise, so too can our spiritual self only remain healthy through constant communion with God. In His holy presence, we gain the strength we need for difficult times.