How to pray (in public)
Firstly, the 'what' - the content of what we pray. Include:
- Wellfield - needs people have, and that people have shared. Consider the underlying spiritual issues worth praying for where appropriate. For example, someone's relative is ill: pray for God to use this to teach them more about their need for him, to keep their eyes focussed on eternity, to be awakened to their need for Christ etc.
- Wider - so we don't just get caught up in ourselves, pray for wider needs in our country, or the northwest, or St Andrew's, or one of our supporting churches etc.
- World - for example, the Harkers, or persecuted Christians somewhere.
Pray also in response to God's word - perhaps something we heard last week. Include thanks for answered prayers, praise of God's goodness, and perhaps general confessions too - but perhaps check with who's leading the meeting.
Secondly, the 'how' - the manner in which we pray:
And we need to remember we're praying to God, not to the people who are listening in. So mean it. In one sense it doesn't matter what everyone else thinks.
But we're also leading prayer on behalf of a group of people, so it needs to be accessible too. Watch out for:
- Length - without being so short as to finish before everyone else has tuned in, avoid being so long as finish everyone else off! (Especially if children are still together with us.)
- Language - we don't have to be someone else, or use a special voice. And if you're someone for whom this is a problem, avoid using words that others don't understand!
- Loudness - rather than muttering into your beard, make sure deaf people on the other side of the room can hear. That way, everyone can join in the prayer.