In class a few weeks ago we spent two hours in discussion about prayer and how it relates to our church gatherings.
Just about every church in the world refers to itself as a praying church, yet most churches spend less than two minutes praying in each gathering (that is not an exaggeration). If you figure most church services are about 75 minutes long, that is less than 3% of the total time of the church service for prayer.
As a worship leader it is often my job to pray in the midst of our time of worship together. That could be as an ending piece or the middle of what we had planned.
I’ve found my prayers too often become brain dumps of random thoughts with little to no preparation of what I would like to say. I don’t think I’m much different than most worship leaders in evangelical churches. We (worship leaders) spend most of our preparing songs, and we place no value in the art of a good prayer (and I know many of you would say that prayer should never be planned).
I wonder if the lack of prayer in our services subtly communicates that prayer isn’t important. We encourage people to come to prayer meetings and to pray more, but we don’t change our services in order to pray more.
I also wonder if our meandering prayers that are spoken with a lack of focus pull us away from God more than they pull us closer. I wonder if we lose people as we try to navigate our thoughts into a straight line while we are speaking to God.
I’m not necessary advocating for writing out the prayers we know we will pray during a weekend church gathering, but there has to be a middle ground between that and the usual worship-leader-rambling-prayer….right? Nor am I advocating for making our church gatherings prayer meetings, but only praying a few minutes isn’t good enough either is it?