There’s more to public praying than just heeding some “thou shalt nots.” For example, thou shalt not use the words ‘Lord’ or ‘just’ as commas between long, run-on sentences: (“We just pray, Lord, that you would just hear our prayers, Lord, and just touch the hearts and souls of the congregation, Lord…”) and thou shalt not switch to flowery Victorian English in thy prayers (“We beseech thee, O God, that thou wouldst hear our prayers and touch the hearts and souls of thy congregation, for we art thine…”).

When it comes to public praying, the content of the prayer is key. Providing our lay folks some guidance on prayer preparation will help many to conquer their fears of public prayer. 

When preparing for prayer, especially when someone’s asked to lead the pastoral or morning prayer, there are some common acronyms that can help. Probably the best known is the A.C.T.S. outline:

  1. Adoration
  2. Confession
  3. Thanksgiving
  4. Supplication

But what should you do when there is no time to prepare? How can we help teach how to lead extemporaneous prayer? Teach your leaders and congregation to think through these points:

  • Purpose
    What’s the purpose of this prayer? To receive the offering? Bless the fellowship dinner?
  • Pause
    Take a deep breath, say, “Let us pray,” and pause for a moment or two to collect your thoughts.
  • Point
    As in “keep to the point.” Take a quick moment during the pause to think through the prayer, bearing in mind that short is sweet and less is more.
  • Pray
    Finally, just open your mouth and pray. You can hardly go wrong with something like “God, bless this time together as we share. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Public prayer doesn’t have to be a terrifying exercise. A little training can go a long way… plus there are some personal practices that can make it easier.

For more information, or to check out the training video for public praying, take a look at Public Prayer 201 at Church-Talk TV.

Question: Have any tips for public prayer novices? Share your advice along with any other thoughts and questions in the Comments section below.