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Author Topic: Prayer in Public  (Read 6112 times)

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Prayer in Public
« on: September 29, 2006, 09:47:15 AM »


I recently was taken aback by an opening prayer at a Bible Conference. The speaker opened his lecture with these words:

“Let’s open up with prayer REAL QUICK.  Father we thank you that we can come here again, and and gather.  We just ask you that you would open our our our minds to the mind of Christ, that you would open our eyes and our ears to see and hear the things of the spirit.  For it is in your Son’s name we pray, Amen.”

The speaker prayed that prayer in 14 seconds flat.  Try and repeat it yourself in 14 Seconds and see how incredibly rushed it sounds. It sounded like he just couldn’t wait to get it over with so he could give his really important talk. But here’s the best part. Guess what the subject of his lecture was after he gave this rushed 14 second prayer?  His talk was titled:  “How PRAYER Reveals Christ.”  As you always say:  “Unbelievable!”  I noticed that they omitted this prayer when they recently posted this lecture in video. Any comments?

Keep up the good work.


Dear James:

In the past year I have been giving thought to the whole idea of “Public Prayers.” Several years ago I was accused by someone who said to me:  “Do you not believe in corporate prayer, Ray?”

I usually open Bible Studies and Conferences with prayer, but not always. I always dismiss our Conferences with prayer, however.  I pray for hours, days, weeks before a Bible Conference, so why is it necessary that I spend a couple of minutes asking God once more for inspiration just prior to my lectures, aloud, and in public?  Well, quite frankly, it is an expected ritual; a tradition of men.  I don’t believe that most pay any special attention to what is said anyway, as they are eager to hear the “lecture” or “study” about to begin.

Our last Mobile Conference was held in a Public Library meeting room. They approved our use of the room as long as it was not for a "religious worship service."  I assured them it was to be a series of Lectures on the Old and New Testament Scriptures.  For this reason I did not open with a public prayer, as the library personnel were in the area.  I did however, pray a couple of other times at the Conference and closed with prayer. They could hardly kick us out after we were finished.  As it turned out the Library Security man present on our Sunday meeting was most cordial.

Christians do the same thing with saying grace in public restaurants.  They will often bow their heads and hold hands in a circle, all the while people are passing by or sitting next to them while they pray over the food before they eat it.  I would speculate that there are few Believers who are more appreciative of food that I am, or thank God more often for it than I do.  I do not take food for granted. I know to a small extent the suffering of millions of people who have starved or gone hungry most of their lives.  I have gone days without food and water and I know the pain of hunger on just a relatively mild level.  I do not feel the need for a ritualistic saying of “grace’ in public buildings and restaurants.  God knows my heart and God hears my silent prayers just as loud and clearly as He does my audible prayers.

It was “as they WERE EATING [not before]” that Jesus took bread and blessed it—the bread (Matt. 26:26) and “gave thanks” (Luke 22:19).  I just don’t see where Jesus prayed “corporate” prayers before corporate events. Look at one of the most important sections of Scripture in the entire Bible—the Sermon on the Mount.  What do we read?  “And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him: And He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit….” Etc., etc.

Were was the “corporate” prayer before this most important teaching of His ministry?

I do not shrink from praying for people or with people or in front of people, but neither do I feel obligated to pray just because of custom.

Here is how Jesus taught us to pray:  “But YOU,  when YOU pray, enter into your closet [inner room], and when you have SHUT YOUR DOOR, pray to your Father which is in secret….” (Matt. 6:6).  How did our Lord pray:

“And He withdrew Himself into the WILDERNESS and prayed” (Luke 5:16).

“And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into A MOUNTAIN to pray….” (Luke 6:12).

“And it came to pass, as He was ALONE praying….” (Luke 9:18).

“Then comes Jesus with them unto a placed called Gethsemane, and said unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray YONDER” (Matt. 26:36).

“And in the morning rising up a great while before day, He wnet out, and departed into a SOLITARY PLACE and there prayed” (Mark 1:35).

But here’s an example of where Jesus did pray aloud in front of a group. It was the occasion of raising Lazarus from the dead. After removing the stone from the tomb, Jesus lifted up His eyes and said:  “Father I thank You that You have heard Me.  And I know that You hear Me always…”  Jesus knew that His silent prayer to His Father had already been heard before He prayed aloud. Then why did He pray aloud?  Let’s read it: “….but because of THE PEOPLE WHICH STAND BY I said it, that THEY may believe that You have sent Me” (John 11:40-41).  Proof that Jesus did NOT normally pray aloud in public.  Jesus Himself acknowledged that there was a special reason why He praid aloud on this one particular occasion.

Nonetheless, when I do pray in public, I pray to GOD and not to those listening. And I never feel RUSHED to get it over with.

God be with you,

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