Prayer for me is so very personal and somewhat of necessity in order to get through my day, and as pointed out by my father a while back, Matthew is fairly explicit on Public Prayers, but this was a common practice in the Old Testament. In Matthew 6 (KJV) (NIV), it is speaking of Giving to the Needy and essentially the warning is IMO more about making yourself seen as somewhat of an idol and being praised by others.
In the Early Facebook Days, I used to take long periods of time to search for people in need of Prayer, both those publicly asking for it and those who just seemed the Drama was becoming too much to handle. I would jump in and comment, "Prayers Sent!!!" to no avail. Before long I began noticing people doing this and felt I knew Some of them well enough to know, or believe in my heart, that they were simply posting "Prayers sent up" but more than likely Not taking the Time to stop, bow their heads and actually pray for that individual.
After being confronted by my father on Matthew, I immediately took to the keyboards and wrote a huge rant on Public Prayers. I'm unsure if it's still on Facebook or not, but for today, it just seemed more appropriate to begin a new. It wasn't long before I just stopped bothering to comment when I would pray for someone, as telling them or publicly announcing this fact just seemed redundant and unnecessary. Now, I just pray...
Anyway, Matthew 6 goes on to suggest that you pray to the Father in private and not present yourself to others as a hypocrite, as no matter how religious you might become, we are all sinners by nature, and as devout Christians, we must struggle to overcome our physical, Worldly desires and keep our mind and our body clean and pure as possible. No human being is perfect and without Sin, and no matter how self-righteous you think you might be, God will Never see Any man as being Perfect!
We read in 1 Kings 17:36-37 (KJV) (NIV) that Elijah prayed publicly on Mt. Carmel. He prayed before "a great congregation of men, women and children" (Ezra 10:1). If Public Prayer is absolutely not allowed in the New Testament, then it is definitely a change in what God allows. Actually, Christ himself prayed publicly before He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41-42) and on many other occasions. Paul knelt and prayed with the Ephesian elders before he left them (Acts 20:36) as well. There's actually not any crystal clear statements about the order of worship in the early churches, but there are a few passages which tend to promote Public Prayer by Witnessing to Others such as 1Corinthians 14:15-16 (KJV) (NIV).
If you read carefully this passage, you can plainly see that Paul stresses the importance of praying and so that those who occupy the Room of the Unlearned (1 Corinthians 14:16) can say Amen at Giving Thanks. To me, this gives reference to the acceptance of Public Prayer. Think of it this way; how could anyone say "Amen" if no one is listening? Although there are other passages to seemingly approve this practice, this seems to clearly show that it was practiced.
There is no doubt a difference, however, between Public Prayer and Private Prayer. For instance, with Private Prayer, we often tend to pour our heart out to God and tell Him all and become less concerned about structuring our prayers or shorten them to appease those we are praying with in Public Prayers. We just simply Talk to God, whereas in Public Prayer, we are leading and uplifting others to Praise God.
Personally, as long as I have prayed with family and friends, it seems to always feel a bit uncomfortable, especially the Prayer before meals, as I know that everyone is hungry and just wanting to say a simple Grace and chow. In fact, whenever I end the Prayer and say, "I gave you a short one," there's always at least one person to say, "Thank you!"
Nevertheless, the actual Sin that Matthew 6:6 expresses was making Private Prayer a Public Display. In order to make sense of it all, one must accept that it was not referring to the proper use of Public Prayer. Trust me, and my family knows what I'm referring to here; you would not want to have me get up and stand in front of a congregation and go into what is often my typical Private Prayer. Half of the congregation would probably walk out as I babbled with tears in my eyes and literally pouring my soul out to God.
I have been told on numerous occasions by family members who were more or less temporarily inconvenienced from sharing a hotel room that this should Never be done in front of others. Truth be known, Prayer for me starts in the morning and really continues throughout the day, as long ago I decided that I'm not talking to myself, rather I am speaking to the Lord, and this practice cleaned me up quite a bit.
Some have accepted the Public Prayer as Mutual Prayer, referring to those times when more than one person participate in praying together. You could argue that this is Still considered Public Prayer, but instead of one person praying and others saying Amen to their prayers, it would have involved a group of people joining together in Prayer. The closest I have personally come to this was in the Pentecostal church where I met my wife (Brownsville Assembly in Pensacola, FL), a Charismatic group of people who were literally on fire!
Being raised in a southern Baptist church (First Baptist in Kosciusko, MS), the Speaking in Tongues and lurching all over the floor took me by surprise. Admittedly, Witnessing this for the first time was beyond shocking to say the least! Even after the many, many experiences watching others do this, no matter how hard I tried, I just could not bring myself to join in on the whole Religious Ecstasy.
Anyway, one of the fundamental concepts that formed the Pure-Rights Movement is Freedom of Religious Expression. As a Christian, it is our belief that you can worship God and praise Jesus in any fashion that brings you closer to His Glory. Praying with and for others is just as important as Witnessing to them, which as Christian, is our duty on this Earth above and beyond any other than our own personal worship and devotion.
In Matthew 26:40 (KJV) (NIV), Jesus took three of His disciples with Him to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. After the disciples fell asleep, Christ scolded Peter by saying, "What, could ye not watch with me one hour?" Jesus was going to pray a little distance from them, but they were to watch "with" Him in Prayer. Basically, they were more or less expected to participate in His Private Prayer, but on the other end of the spectrum, it was almost as if they prayed the same Prayer in unison as seen in Acts 4:24-30 (KJV) (NIV).
You will find many variations of this, such as in Acts 12:5 where Peter was thrown into prison, "but Prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him." We can read in Acts 12:12 (KJV) (NIV) that after being released, he goes to the House of Mary the mother of John Mark, "where many were gathered together praying." Although not necessarily considered as Private Prayer, it wasn't people listening to one person praying, and then saying Amen, either. I believe it was one of the keys of the power of the early churches in Early Christianity.
In fact, there are other evidences of people exercising participatory Prayer in the New Testament, and most any True Christian has also participated in praying with other in groups. When do most people pray? It is my personal belief that not all but many people, Christians included, only pray on their worst of days, when they're reading the Bible, prior to mealtime, bedtime, or as I have found myself several times, running on fumes and possibly miles from the nearest gas station. Prayer doesn't need to be done out of fear or because you might need better scores on a test or luck on a lottery drawing. Giving Thanks and asking for Forgiveness is a Daily Duty. The ability to witness to others is a Blessing.
Not long ago I had an accident in the woods and had a tree or limb come down on me while thinning the trees. I'll spare you the details for this post and just point out that while on the phone with 911, an ice pack to my head and gasping for what I believed was my last few breaths, the only thing on my mind was getting my keys safely locked in my bedroom. I knew where my heart was and my relationship with the Lord and Knew that if it was His Will, I was more than ready to go Home and be with my mother, brother and long-missed elders.
We read in Acts 1:14 (KJV) (NIV), "They all joined together constantly in Prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers." The early disciples met in the upper room and "continued with one accord in Prayer and supplication."
In 2 Corinthians 1:11 (KJV) (NIV) the Corinthians are expected to be helping "together" by Prayer, "as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many." There's just no doubting that the early churches gathered together for Mutual Prayer in which all people there participated in Public Prayer, and as Christians, I feel that we should be Witnessing to and congregating with others, holding hands and praying with anyone who allows it.
Ultimately, there's no denying that our deepest and most sincere Prayer will be in our Private Prayers where we are alone and willing to open up to God, thank Him for what we've been given, ask for Him to forgive us for our Sins and shortcomings and bare it all unto Jesus. Truthfully, this Prayer should be done in the Prayer Closet, a private room and in secret, as it is not for Public Display. This is not to take away from the purpose of this article and condemn joining together in Prayer, as there are the more appropriate or "Proper Times" for this practice.
Do keep in mind that God will Always be listening to not only what is coming out of your mouth but what is truly in your heart, so whereas standing on a street corner, chasing people down while shopping or eating and preaching to them might not be the most prudent of places to share God's Word.
There are so many people in this world suffering from various hardships, drug addiction, mental and physical abuse, homelessness, sick patients in hospitals, people who cannot afford health care, wayward youth, misguided prisoners, friends and family members and many others who desperately need your prayers, although many will deny they are needed. God will hear your prayers for those people from your Private Room and leave the actual Preaching for the Sermon. If you feel that you have a genuine calling to serve the Lord, then there are many ways in which to do this.
If you do feel deeply compelled to share your prayers publicly, then please pray.., Before you Pray, and ask God to help prepare and guide you and your delivery, for the strength and compassion to confront those who are sometimes less than willing to hear, but only by humility and grace, as you go to pray.
If you're only confronting others in Prayer to make up for where you feel that your own Christianity is lacking or to make less obvious your shortcomings, then no. Pray "so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. Truly I tell you, they already have their reward. But when you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
Lastly, I just want to thank anyone who took the time to read this article, as it has been quite some time since writing anything other than Facebook Rants, which doesn't happen often and usually sparked by the desire to post only a couple of statements and ends up being a Truckload of emotion. Ever notice how Fundamental and Testament both contain the word Amen? Two different words but both dealing with Reality.
My Reality has always been struggling to Catch Up, and without my relationship with Jesus Christ, my beliefs, morals, ethics, convictions and willingness to Keep On Trying, nothing in this World would be possible. It's crazy to admit, but I have been working on this article all day long. With as many projects as I'm consistently chipping away at, both online web development and here at Home, at this rate, I could use some of those prayers if you don't mind ;)
Where Will You Spend Eternity?
John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:36 - Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.
1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Mark 11:24 - Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
James 4:3 - When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Jeremiah 29:12 - Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
Ephesians 6:18 - Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
2 Chronicles 7:14 - If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
John 15:7 - If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Philippians 4:6 - Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Mark 11:24 - Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive [them], and ye shall have [them].
1 Thessalonians 5:17 - Pray without ceasing.
Matthew 6:7 - But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen [do]: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
Luke 11:9 - And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Romans 8:26 - Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Matthew 6:6 - 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.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 - I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men;
Matthew 26:41 - Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak.
James 5:16 - Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Jeremiah 33:3 - Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
Ephesians 6:18 - Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Luke 18:1 - And he spake a parable unto them [to this end], that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
Psalms 34:17 - [The righteous] cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
Colossians 4:2 - Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
Matthew 6:5-8 - And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites [are]: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Matthew 6:9-13 - After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. (Read More...)
Matthew 6:1-34 - Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.