Public and Private Praying
Luke 18 records a wonderful lesson on prayer. Two men went to pray, one a lowly sinner and one a religious fellow. The religious fellow prayed long and loud and reminded the Lord of what a fine Christian he was. On the other hand, the sinner would not even raise his head he had such humility and shame, and prayed a very short prayer. Only 6 words!, “God be merciful to me a sinner”. Jesus said of this sinner that he went home saved!
How many times have you heard a Pharisee kind of prayer on Sunday morning at church?; Long and loud, asking nothing and expecting nothing, except the praise of those who are listening. Jesus had something to say about public praying.
“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:6)
I have often heard some well intentioned person say after a public prayer, “that was a beautiful prayer”. Prayer is to get things from God, not to be pretty in the ears of the hearers. I know that personally I have to guard against praying to “be heard of men” when I am asked to pray in public.
I suggest that public prayers should be brief, to the point, asking God for His blessing on the meeting, asking for people to come to Christ, or something similar. I really enjoy King James English and use a New King James version of the Bible often in my study. However, prayer is not the time to use King James English. Great flowing theological terms, flowery speech, telling God what He already knows, and on and on, far too often describes public praying. Great long prayers ought to be for private praying in most cases. In your secret place of prayer, where you are not likely to put on airs, but simply ask, child to Father. In this place, you can pray as long as you wish and God will hear and answer.