Along the gradual disappearance of Bible reading from gathered worship, the loss of public pastoral prayer is another mystery situation which I notice when visiting other churches. (Of course there’s lots of music)
On Christward Collective Nick Batzig has posted Samuel Miller’s Frequent Faults In Public Prayer.
Given that there are eighteen of these they go to more thoughtful depth that the usual “Stop saying ‘Lord’ or ‘just’ all the time”.
Here are some examples:
Avoid praying in minute detail for certain things. Balance out prayers in general. Especially for a Lord’s Day morning service. It is good to pray according to the same general nature for all the things for which the one leading prays. If there is a man or woman who has a terminal sickness, it is sufficient to plead with the Lord to heal that individual. There is no need to go into all the specifics of that with what he or she is dealing.
Avoid Excessive length. Miller includes a hilarious illustration about George Whitefield. While in America on one of his itinerate visits, Whitefield stayed at the house of a certain man who asked if he could lead everyone in family worship. Apparently this man started to pray and kept on praying and praying and praying. After the prayer, Whitefield went up to man and said, “Sir, you prayed me right into a spirit of prayer and then you prayed me right out of it.” He then corrected the man for trying to pray a long prayer out of pretense to be seen by Whitefield. This is a good reminder for all who lead in public prayer. We are praying to the Lord and are not heard for our many words.
Avoid introducing too much didactic statements — whether Scriptural or not. Miller explained that “the public prayer is not a theological lecture addressed to the One who sits on the throne of grace.” It is a prayer, not a sermon. While the one leading should pray Scripture back to the Lord, it is to the Lord that he is praying–not to the people to be heard by them.
Read the whole post at Christward Collective.