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How should we pray in public?

Many Churches today have a lengthy time of ‘praise & worship’ which is made up of singing followed by a time of prayer in which everyone prays their own prayer aloud, usually making much noise. This is a new practice that was not there 50 years ago. Is it to be encouraged? Is this the right way to praise and worship our God? What does the Bible teach? We shall deal with the question by giving a series of propositions.

The real question is not ‘How would I like to worship God?’ but ‘How does God want me to worship Him?’

God must be praised and worshipped only as He has commanded!

Throughout the Bible praise and worship are offered to God alone. The
Psalms have many exhortations for us to worship the Lord with our whole
soul (Psalm 103). The real question is not ‘How would I like to worship
God?’ but ‘How does God want me to worship Him?’ We dare not come
before Him in any other way than He instructs us in the Bible, His word.
There is abundant instruction throughout the Bible (read John 4:24,
Hebrews 10:19-22, 12:28-29), and so many examples of such worship as
in the Psalms. Remember what happened to Nadab and Abihu as they
offered “unauthorized fire” (Leviticus 10:1-3); and to Uzzah when the ark
was carried on a cart instead of on the shoulders of the Levites (1
Chronicles 15:12-15). Remember what happened to Ananias and
Sapphira when they lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4); and to Christians
who ate the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:29-

There are no examples in the Bible of such ‘praise and worship’ where everyone prays out loud their own individual prayer

In Acts 4:24-30 it says “they lifted their voices together” but because only one prayer is recorded it must have been one person praying and all joining with their ‘Amen’ at the end (as 1 Corinthians 14:15). In fact, Paul imagines everyone speaking in tongues at the same time, and an unbeliever entering and pronouncing the assembly mad (v. 23).

In all our Christian assemblies we are to strive to edify one another

1 Corinthians 14 is a great chapter about worship and the one principle that
should guide everything done is edification (see especially vv.12,26). This is why a tongues’ speaker had to be interpreted or keep silent (vv. 27-28). We do not assemble as God’s people to do our own thing but to use our gifts to benefit our brethren. There are those who are more gifted to pray publicly and they should lead and be heard by everyone. The congregation then responds with ‘Amen’ which means ‘I agree with this prayer, may the Lord answer.’ “All things should be done decently and in order” (v. 40). Why are the clear instructions of this chapter of the word of God so consistently ignored?

We do not assemble as God’s people to do our own thing, but to use our gifts to benefit our brethren.

Our Lord instructs us how we should pray

In the Sermon on the Mount. There is the Lord’s Prayer which is given to us as a pattern prayer, not just to be repeated but as an outline of what we ought to be praying for (Matthew 6:9-13). This is the way to overcome that temptation to pray for the same thing over and over and get louder and louder as we do so (v. 7). We must remember that we are coming to God who is our Father in heaven. Would you keep on repeating yourself with increasing volume to your earthly father? It would be taken as great disrespect.

Grace and Truth Magazine