I pray a lot and I don’t. Sort of sounds like a contradiction does it not?
I find that I pray a lot privately and very little publicly. Even when people come into my office, I don’t always pray with them. If I feel particularly lead or if the person I am with asks for prayer I am happy to pray with them.
What is my hesitation? In part it is because I want prayer to be meaningful. I never want to pray out of any sense that this is the religious thing to do, or to pray because that is what is expected of me as a pastor. I want prayer to be real and authentic as I speak with God. Prayer for me is personal, but should it always be private?
When I pray with others I hear how they pray and what they pray. I get to hear what God is stirring in them and what it is that they are passionate about. At times, I am also convicted about the things I am not praying about or haven’t prayed for in a while.
When I pray with others, I am reminded that I am not alone in this journey, and that I am part of a community of people who are seeking to be disciples who make disciples. A group of people who are self aware enough to give our best to God, but also humble enough to know that we need God to fulfil His mission.
When I pray with others, we get to celebrate together God’s answers to our prayers. It is part of our story, and it seems that sometimes God waits for us to be united or together in prayer before He will answer. In short, it seems like something special happens when the people of God get together to pray.
As Tim Keller suggests, “by praying with friends, you will be able to hear and see facets of Jesus that you have not yet perceived.” That is the other thing about praying with others, it strengthens your faith.
So should prayer always be private? I would have to say no. Perhaps, I need to pray publicly a little more. Maybe you do as well. Let’s guard our hearts as we pray, but also join with others in the knowledge that there are perhaps some things that public prayer does best.