The Prayer Professional
When I am at wedding dinners, social dances, group meetings, wherever the leader considers prayer would be a good thing, I get conscripted. Why not ask me? After all, I’m a pastor. When I encourage someone else to lead in prayer, I hear, “Oh no, not me. My prayers aren’t good enough. I’m not prepared. You pray. You’re the professional.” I’m not a professional. I’ve just learned to pray from my heart in all circumstances.
Most of us pray at home. We rattle off quick prayers on the way to work, as we begin a new job or wave good-bye to our teenager. We know how to pray. Why then does leading a group in prayer cause such extreme anxiety?
It can’t be that we’re afraid God will complain about our effort. After all, some of our private prayers are limited to one word like, “help” or “please”.
I believe we see public prayer as performance and the group in front of us, not God, as the audience waiting to criticize when we don’t do it correctly. No wonder we become tongue-tied at the thought of praying out loud in front of people.
Here are my suggestions to follow when leading a group in prayer.
- Remember, prayer is a conversation with God. What someone else thinks is not even relevant.
- Be assured, God welcomes any and all conversation with us.
- There is no right and wrong for prayer. God listens to our heart, not our words.
- Focus on caring for the group in front of you, rather than worrying about what they’re thinking about you. What do they need to say to God? Tell God their concerns.
- Let go of yourself and how good you are or aren’t. That is irrelevant.
Try these 5 suggestions. Take a deep breath and pray. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to lead your group in prayer or pray with your friend.
“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)