Questions about prayer

This blog has become my sounding board for many of my questions about life. For instance, sometimes I write yet do not publish because I'm satisfied by the time I've finished writing.

Lately, I've been wondering about how and why we pray in public. Maybe all the answers to all my questions are simple, but public prayers have been getting on my nerves lately. I want your opinions.

1. What is the goal of praying in public? Is one person really speaking for all of the people in the room? What if they say something I don't want to go along with?

2. Why are we supposed to bow our heads and close our eyes. Isn't Jesus in heaven now? Is the prayer less powerful if somebody still has their eyes open?

3. I've been told that one of the great powers of prayer lies in the fact that my prayers might have more effect of changing my mind than changing God's mind. If that's true, then whose mind is public prayer supposed to be working on?

4. Do people pray the same in public as they do in private?
Truth be told, I've gotten into a bad habit of tuning out public prayers. They're usually too predictable. Are most people's private prayers just as predictable? I won't enter myself into a "prayer warrior" contest any time soon, but I'd like to think that we can find more to pray for than the same churchy things in our churchy language.

5. Why are public prayers almost always about things that we already feel like we know an answer to? In other words, Why don't we pray about things that we don't know?


posted by Josh M on 8:16 AM


Philip Murphy said...

Hmmm. You've posed too many questions for me to answer. Maybe you should pray about it some... publicly of course... preferably loud and on a busy street corner.

DK said...

These are good questions. I think that public prayer has turned into performance art much the same way preaching has changed from teaching to a pep talk for the religious.

Granted, there are many preachers that wish to share their views and discoveries with their congregation and are blessed with the means to convey it publicly. However, I can’t count the number of church services I’ve been to that seem more contrived than passionate.

I am reminded of a man at my old church who was a retired preacher. When he got up to say a prayer everyone started timing him because he’d always squeeze a quick sermon in. I don’t know if he was showboating per se, but it was easy to question the sincerity of all those Church of Christ-isms in a row. So much of what we do is just habit and tradition (sorry, the 1st century church didn’t have contribution “separate and apart” from communion…) and I think that public prayer ends up being just that.

I guess when I pray publicly I like to think of it as a time to pray a blessing upon the group. I suppose anyone can freely oppose what I say when I pray. Someone could pray quietly to themselves “Dear God, please don’t bring your blessings to me today, amen.”

Anyway, I’ll shut up now and leave you with this example:;&version=31;

Josh M said...

maybe i'll just keep letting my mind wander during all these public prayers.

i'm still open to suggestions though.

W said...

A lot of the things you are talking about I have thought a lot about also.
I get irritated at public prayers because they seem predictable and not very personal. I know when I pray at night, sometimes I can be predictable, but most of the time I am not. An when I find myself being predictable I stop myself and just really talk to Him. When I pray I ask God questions, wonder, talk things out, ask Him to bless certain situations about certain people in my life, let Him know that he deserves and will get all the glory for everything in my life. But public prayers, why do we bow, when He is obviously up? I mean if we go along with the thought that He is also everywhere, then just by bowing we are showing respect. A lot of times when we pray in public I don't listen as much as I should and I say my own prayer...Alright, well, I just felt like I should add my thoughts. See ya!