A Few Words of Advice for Public Prayer

Some of congregation think that it is better for deacons who say the prayer during Sunday worship to speak without written notes. Maybe because of this, I also noticed some offered prayers without notes. I believe this is because of the congregation’s expectation that deacons of our church should be able to say a 3-minute prayer without notes and that is why they made such a request. However, my thought is different.

Since the basis of prayer is a conversation with God, anything can be said. Therefore, remembering our Father is with us, using our daily language without any pretense to report all the details of our lives tends to help deepen our relationship with God. When we say grace before a meal, it will reveal the person’s daily prayer style and pattern. Therefore, based on their prayer, we can tell the level of prayer life of the person.

However, public prayer during Sunday worship is different. This prayer is heard by the whole congregation. Because of that, the content needs to be refined to include the most relevant events and issues within the time limit allowed and each word needs to be selected carefully to achieve that goal. Such a well-prepared prayer is instrumental to open our heart, guide us in worship and even hear God’s voice through it.

It is not easy to memorize such a prayer. That is why, even pastors during the general assembly, will say prayers with notes. Compared to that, sometimes, I observed some public prayers which were not well prepared and noticed that the prayer did not flow well with the rest of worship. Therefore, please understand that public prayer during Sunday worship should be done with notes and that is the general practice.

I want to add few more points about prayer. It is good to say long prayers if it is a private time with the Lord. However, public prayer should be done in a concise manner. For our church, the rule for prayer is 3 minutes. All the deacons follow this rule faithfully and I encourage shepherds also to follow this rule. If the prayer is longer than 3 minutes, listeners’ attention tends to shift. On the other hand, if it is shorter than that, it leaves the impression of lack of preparation.

Therefore, whoever is assigned for public prayer during worship service should look into the church bulletin to see the current church events and issues and select the most relevant items to lift them up in prayer. Also, during house church, whoever will say grace over the meal can prepare the prayer note in advance and say the prayer with notes. It will be very helpful by giving them more confidence in public prayer.

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