When we are leading prayer we want to help others and most of all we want them to feel they can pray too. Don’t get worried about doing the wrong thing. Relax and bring your honest heart before God. Don’t worry about getting your theology wrong. Prayer leaders model that God is ‘grace’ by leading in a humble honest way.
But when you lead prayer do avoid the following four things which may not help others in prayer…
1. Avoid Newsflashes Or Newsletter Prayer
– Prayers which explain or provide information (which you really want the others hearing to know)
– Prayers that list off, showcase, or even show off our big ideas, cleverness, ministry and action.
– These sorts of prayers make our prayer a show for others. Ouch!
2. Avoid Using Strange Or Different Language When Praying
Often when people pray they use a new set of words they never use anywhere else and it can be unintelligible to those they are leading. Other times these strange words we use actually become meaningless because of repetition. Religious speak often does not model humility or simplicity – it distances us from God. Here are some examples of special prayer language that don’t make sense in normal English:
– Implore, beseech, grant that, unto
– Bless, Bless, Bless… (the word Bless gets used so much if becomes meaningless)
– “We just… just… just…”
3. Avoid Droning On And On Without Pause
This one hardly needs describing – if you’ve suffered it you know! When we lead we need to also think of those we are leading, not just our own thoughts and our own relationship with God! In leading prayer we must think about what will help others pray too!
– Because we are leading others in prayer we model simplicity.
– Long petitions that drone on might give the impression that prayer needs to be long to be effective.
– Long endless prayers may not give others the space they need to pray with us – it’s hard to follow.
– So when we lead people in prayer we give them pauses or spaces to reflect and wander!
4. Avoid Using A Different Tone Or A Special Voice
Some prayer leaders develop a special ‘prayer voice’ which is not who they really are. Others have a ‘religious’ or ‘official tone’. This is a subjective area but it is fair to say that approaching God ought not to be done in a commanding, officious tone. Then again, we should not lead in a way that sounds offhand or bored. We model humility, honesty, and simplicity.