It’s our church mission prayer month (June 2011). After prayer meetings I say to myself, “I’m encouraged!”
It’s always wonderful to pray with fellow Christians. It could be when someone leads up front at church, in small groups at the end of Bible study, with the family around the dinner table, even one-to-one after sharing sad news. It’s always a joy to call on God in faith.
And there are things to remember to help us in group prayer. There are matters of being in a group that effect the dynamic. I think the following tips will help any Christian make the most of group prayer. I have made every one of these mistakes, and will continue to do so. In other words, they’re mainly tips to myself.
- We, not I
Jesus taught the disciples to pray Our Father, rather than My Father. I think group prayer is most inclusive when the one speaking uses we pray more than I pray
- Who are you talking to?
Use the address to God to mean something. Address him as Father, or Saviour, or Lord of all, or Creator. They’re more than mere labels, but speak of God’s character. These titles directly lead to prayer points (for instance, God’s Fatherhood leads to prayer for his children gathered in church)
- Try to make sense
Prayers are sometimes confused. It doesn’t stop God hearing and answering! But it can confuse me as a listener, and distract me from joining in with a hearty Amen. When you say, ‘Dear Father, we thank you for your death on the cross to give us life …’ my mind will immediately depart the room of prayer. I’m thinking, ‘I’m sure it was the Son who died …’
- Know your habits
We all have verbal habits. Mostly, that’s OK. Yet, in prayer, some habits add nothing but distraction. I want to follow your prayer lead, but some of these thrown me off the scent
~ ‘We wanna pray this, & we wanna pray that, …‘
Just go ahead and pray it then! Ask God, don’t tell him you’re considering asking
~ ‘We do pray … We do ask …‘
I know we do. ‘Do’ in a sentence can emphasise a point (likewise with really). My difficulty is when it’s in every sentence. Use sparingly
~ Ending every pause with ‘… yeah’
This is irritating. Oddly, ‘yeah’ is usually twice as loud as the rest of the words. ‘We pray for … YEAH Fred’s work problems.‘ If you pause to think, or to slow things down, great. End the pause with a real word and something to say
~ ‘We just pray for Freda to move from death to life‘
Christians are justified, love justice, and feel strangely compelled to say ‘just’ in prayers. ‘Just’ might work, if praying for one thing – say your point, then Amen. Usually, there are many things we just ask for. ‘Just’ is thrown in so we don’t sound greedy. But wait a minute, we’re asking the God of the universe to open blind eyes and call the dead to live in Christ! There’s nothing ‘just’ (on ‘only’) about that
Why work on praying better in public? It doesn’t impress God and thus force him to answer. But it loves me, through assisting me to participate in prayer with you. And I do wanna pray with you … YEAH!
Any other helpful advice?