Gospel Workers (1915 ed.)


Public Prayer

The prayers offered in public should be short and to the point. God does not require us to make the season of worship tedious by lengthy petitions. Christ did not enforce upon His disciples wearisome ceremonies and long prayers. “When thou prayest,” He said, “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.” [Matthew 6:5.] GW 175.1

The Pharisees had stated hours for prayer; and when, as often came to pass, they were abroad at the appointed time, they would pause wherever they might be,—perhaps in the street or in the marketplace, amid the hurrying throng of men,—and there in a loud voice rehearse their formal prayers. Such worship, offered merely for self-glorification, called forth unsparing rebuke from Jesus. Yet he did not discountenance public prayer; for He Himself prayed with His disciples and with the multitude. But He impressed upon His disciples the thought that their public prayers should be short. GW 175.2

A few minutes is long enough for any ordinary public petition. There may be instances where supplication is in a special manner indited by the Spirit of God. The yearning soul becomes agonized, and groans after God. The spirit wrestles as did Jacob, and will not be at rest without the special manifestation of the power of God. At such times it may be fitting that the petition be of greater length. GW 175.3

Many tedious prayers are offered, which are more like giving the Lord a lecture than presenting to Him a request. It would be better if those offering such prayers would confine themselves to the one that Christ taught His disciples to offer. Long prayers are tiring to those who hear, and do not prepare the people to listen to the instruction that is to follow. GW 175.4

It is often because secret prayer is neglected that long, tedious prayers are offered in public. Let not ministers go over in their petitions a week of neglected duties, hoping to atone for their neglect and to pacify conscience. Such prayers frequently result in bringing others down to a low level of spirituality. GW 176.1

Before entering the desk, the minister should seek God in his closet, and come into close connection with Him. There he may lift his thirsty soul to God, and be refreshed with the dew of grace. Then with an unction from the Holy Spirit upon him, giving him a burden for souls, he will not dismiss a congregation without presenting before them Jesus Christ, the sinner's only refuge. Feeling that he many never again meet these hearers, he will make appeals that will reach their hearts. And the Master, who knows the hearts of men, will give him utterance, helping him to speak the words he ought to speak at the right time and with power. GW 176.2