Almost every Sunday I give announcements in our weekly service and pray before our time of giving. After giving announcements, I used to try and find a meaningful Scripture to read that applied to giving and then pray off the top of my head. Lately, I’ve been taking a different approach; I have been writing out my prayer and reading it.
Many people don’t like this idea. They might think it isn’t genuine or that it’s too planned. They might think it’s unnatural. However, I would respond that it is actually beneficial. There are good reasons for us to do this and it might be something we should actually practice more often. Here are four reasons I believe we should write at least some of the prayers we pray publicly.
It is Intentional
When we plan out our prayer that we will pray to God before His people, we pray intentionally. We are intentional about the songs we sing in worship. Our service structure is intentional. Our pastor’s message is planned and intentional. Why would we not be intentional in this as well?
When I meet someone to have a purposed conversation, I think about the things I will say to them before I ever meet with them. I may even write down notes so I don’t miss anything. I want to be intentional and not waste their time.
When I pray a corporate prayer, I want to be intentional in the things I am leading our people to pray to the God of the universe. We are gathered with the purpose of worshiping Him. Why not think about how we worship Him and what we want to say to Him?
It Allows You to Pray Scripture
I need to memorize more Scripture. There is no doubt about that. But as I stated above, I quit reading Scripture before the time of giving. The reason i did this is that I am now praying Scripture. Many times I will pray Scripture from the text we were in during the message. Writing my prayer allows me to pray Scripture that I don’t have memorized.
Praying Scripture is powerful. Donald S. Whitney says in his book, Praying the Bible, “So basically what you are doing is taking words that originated in the heart and mind of God and circulating them through your heart and mind back to God. By this means his words become the wings of your prayers.” God is perfect and so is His word. Praying God’s words are so powerful. This also teaches your people how to pray the Bible and provides another point of application for them from the sermon.
It Avoids Saying the Same Old Thing
We are creatures of habit. Many of us get in a routine of praying. We have a prayer we pray for our meals. We have a prayer we pray before bed. We may even have a prayer we pray for our quiet time. We get in a routine and find ourselves mindlessly saying the same thing over and over to the God of the universe. How crazy is that!? If you had the chance to have multiple meetings with the President of the United States, would you have the same conversation every time? Of course not! That would be crazy. You’d be wasting his time and yours.
Obviously we have things we continually bring before God letting Him know their importance and the weight they bear on our hearts, but at the same time, praying the almost exact same thing over and over is boring. It could be a major reason people quit praying. They feel they say the same thing every time.
Just because your prayer is written does not make it any less genuine. It helps you think through conversation with the Lord as you pray the whole time you are preparing the written prayer. Then when you read it out loud, you are still praying what you’ve written. In fact, the people you are leading in prayer will likely listen and be more refreshed since they can’t quote what you are about to pray.
It Models Prayer for Your People
As a student pastor, one of the more difficult parts of my job is getting a student to pray out loud in front of their peers. If we’re honest, adults can be just as bad. People are intimidated by public prayer even though it’s just talking to God out loud. I believe part of this intimidation is that they feel they don’t know how to pray or won’t sound eloquent enough.
Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. When we pray publicly in the church service, we are modeling prayer for our people. Prayer spans all feelings and emotions, but we often don’t pray those publicly. Our people need to know that they can cry out to God in their sorrow, their anguish, their frustration, and their sin. We can pray these publicly. Most of our prayers express thanks, praise, and petition and we need these things. But many people in our congregations are hurting, mad, and may be stuck in some sort of sin. They need to know we turn those things to God as well.
We see the full spectrum of all of these things in the Psalms, which means praying them can be helpful. Are people need to know where to turn and how to pray.
When I pray written prayers, I still read them in prayerful, conversational tone. At first, I was trying to hide the fact that I had written anything at all, but I’ve realized that’s not helpful. That’s one reason I’ve written this blog post. I want to start helping to model what written, scripture-based prayer looks like so each Monday I’m going to start posting my public prayer that I prayed the Sunday before. Hopefully, this may help someone pray more and learn to pray the Word. Here is Sunday’s prayer based on Psalm 25.
To You we lift up our souls (vs. 1). In You we trust (vs. 2). Many of us today may feel the troubles of our hearts are enlarged. Bring us out of our distresses (vs. 17). For Your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon our guilt, for it is great (vs. 11). Make us to know Your ways, teach us Your paths (vs. 4). Bless our worship as we give to You today.
In Jesus’ Name,