Sunday, December 6, 2015 am                                    Perfection 2015 Index


Our Public Worship (5)
Prayer in our Assemblies


AS we continue our study of our public worship, today we want to notice the subject of prayer.    Recently, we addressed prayer in our lives as Christians (in September).  We also addressed some things we should be praying for, noting the “model prayer” of Jesus (Matthew 6:9-13), as well as some things that make prayer acceptable (and unacceptable).   We will not be repeating all of that study.  Today we want to address prayer as a part of our worship services.  We might mention some things previously addressed but we intend to do so in light of our assembling together and to show how prayer is a part of our public worship.

So let’s get started!

 I.                    Prayer

a.       Praying In Truth

                                          i.         What is prayer?  It is the avenue God has provided for us to speak to Him. 

                                         ii.         Prayer in our worship – there are several passages that address prayer in a public capacity and/or as part of our worship.

1.          1 Corinthians 14:15 – pray with the spirit and with the understanding.  This passage deals specifically with our prayers in the assembly.

2.          Acts 2:42 could possibly be describing prayer as part of our public worship.

3.          Acts 4:24, 12:5 – prayer offered for Peter by the church.    These passages show the church praying, though it might not be limited to the assembly (but I would not exclude the church when assembled praying for him).

4.          The Lord’s Supper involves giving thanks as part of it – 1 Cor. 11:23-26

5.          Also, many of the letters to churches included request for prayer – i.e. Col. 4:2-3. 

                                       iii.         In some ways, public prayers are different than private prayers, while in other ways they are the same.  Our prayers in worship are directed toward God with the congregation in mind.  That simply means that what we pray for is appropriate to pray together. 
Many of the same things we pray for individually, we would pray for together, though not with the same intimacy or details. 
For example: While the model prayer Jesus taught was addressed to individuals, the things He instructs us to pray for can be addressed at any time (Matt. 6:9-13).  And we find in that a model for prayer.  NOTICE Luke 11:1 where the disciples of Jesus request, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.   Evidently, included in these prayers would have been public occasions – and Jesus gives a model prayer similar to that of Matthew 6.
Some examples of things scripture shows include:

1.    Begin with praise for God and thanksgiving for His blessings – Phil. 4:6, Acts 4:24 – they praised God together. 

2.    Thanksgiving for brethren here and abroad – 2 Cor. 9:14 – prayers were the brethren in Judea could offer for those who had helped them, but it would be offered. 

3.    Dealing with our sins – confession, repentance and forgiveness – Acts 9:22.   James 5:16 speaks of confessing our trespasses to one another and to pray for one another.

4.    Praying for the sick – James 5:13-15.

5.    For all men, especially leaders that we may lead a quiet life – 1 Tim. 2:1-3

6.    For opportunities to reach the lost – 2 Thess. 3:1 – that the word of the Lord may run swiftly

7.    For brethren dealing with problems – Acts 12:5 – the church prayed for Peter while he was in prison.  Philippians 1:19, Paul in prison they prayed for his deliverance.

8.    Pray for brethren everywhere – 1 Thess. 5:25, “Brethren, pray for us.”  Heb. 13:18

9.    These are examples of things we can pray for publicly.   I am convinced that anything that is appropriate to pray for publicly can be.

                                       iv.         WE offer several prayers in our services.
Most of them have a specific purpose - LS, closing, opening, main prayer, giving (sometimes), etc.  Special request prayers – such as when one responds to the invitation.

                                         v.         According to His will – 1 John 5:14-15, Romans 8:27 – prayer from the heart that will be according to the will of God.  1 John 3:21-22 – it is based upon keeping His commandments.

                                       vi.         Offered in the name of Jesus – Col. 3:17, 1 Tim. 2:5, etc.

b.       Praying In Spirit

                                          i.         Reverence for God – Matt. 6:9.  We need to consider this in the way we approach Him and our requests to Him.   There are many today who have casualized God and it is reflected in the way they address God as well.  As I have said, He is NOT “the man upstairs” of “Big daddy” – use some respect.  EVERY example in scripture shows this (e.g. Matt. 6:9)

                                         ii.         Faith and sincerity – as with every prayer, we need to believe God as we pray.  We need to be genuine.   Don’t love to be heard for your many words or how good you are!  Matthew 7:7 – know that God wants to give you what you need.

                                       iii.         With thanksgiving – Eph. 5:20, both physical and spiritual.  1 Thess. 5:17-18 – pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks. 

                                       iv.         Humility – Luke 18:9-14 – the tax collector was humble

                                         v.         With a forgiving spirit – Matt 6. 14-15.  AS we express concern for brethren who are unfaithful or weak, we need to be wanting them to return and willing to welcome them back.  If there are attitudes standing in the way of that (because of hurt, etc.) pray about those things.

                                       vi.         A desire to obey God and be put to work if needed.   

c.        Preparation for prayer

                                          i.         The leader – again, you are entrusted with an important task.  Take it seriously!    Here are some suggestions offered by various resources to consider as you pray.

1.          Make preparation. Practice as you can.  NOTE: One of the best ways to become proficient at public prayer is to engage in private prayer regularly.

2.           Think about what you are going to pray about.   If you know about your assignment ahead of time (yes there are times we are put on the spot), think about what you want to pray for.  Not every prayer has to contain everything that needs our prayers.
NOTE: There is nothing wrong with writing down what or who you want to pray for and looking at it as you pray.

3.          Speak loudly and clearly.  Remember the audience is praying with you.   Consider your posture as you pray – thinking about your voice projecting – does a bowed head cause you to not project to the audience?  Use the microphone (adjust it if you need to before you begin).

4.          Use words that YOU understand and the audience understands.   If you choose to use language you set apart for prayers (some use KJV English in their prayers – Thee, Thou, etc.) be respectful.  

5.          Make it appropriate for the occasion – several prayers each with different purposes

6.          Make it appropriate for the audience – not a time for personal issues or to go on the attack with someone. 

7.          Be aware of repetition” and flowery language. Just as many quote “the Lord’s prayer” by rote and sometimes with little thought, it can become easy to say the same thing in our prayers and not think about it.   There are certain phrases that brethren have adopted that we need to understand (e.g. “guard, guide and direct us”, “study another portion of thy word”, “without fear of molestation”, “bring us back at the next appointed time”, etc.)   If we are not careful, these can become “vain repetition”.   (NOTE: I mention these because I use them myself)
Try to personalize the prayers each time.  NOTE: Again using similar phrases are not wrong, provided you are genuinely praying from the heart.  But there is always the danger of it being presented with little thought.  AND if the audience knows exactly what you are going to say, possibly their minds will wander, etc.

8.          Be sincere – I do not say these things to discourage.  I believe we do a good job here.  These are presented as food for thought and as we ask, Are we giving Him our very best?  If you stumble over words, don’t worry about it!  If brethren are critical of that, THEY have the problem!  We noted earlier, Romans 8:27 – we have the Holy Spirit to intercede for us in our prayers.  What you intend is what God will hear!

9.          Be yourself in your prayers. They need not be “eternal”, in fact shorter prayers seem to be the example for such occasions (think about keeping the audience that you are leading).

                             ii.                  The Listener – we too need to prepare to follow along in the mind! 

1.          Be reverential in your demeanor.  Again, we often assume positions that help remove distractions and focus on the message.

2.          Help the leader by removing distractions – depending on who is leading, distractions can cause one to lose their thought.

3.          Work to not let your mind wander.  Not always an easy thing!  Remember our worship is a sacrifice – give your best effort!

4.          Pray along with the leader in your mind.

5.          If appropriate, say “amen.”  1 Cor. 14:16 speaking of clarity in prayers also notes that those listening can say “Amen”  It says, “Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.”
Here we typically don’t say amen out loud here – which again is fine!  But a prayer ought to be one that you can say “amen” to – which means you have to know what was said.


And thus we can see, that as with every act of worship, even in our prayers we need to be giving Him our very best – both “in spirit and in truth.”  How are you doing in this?