Monday, July 2, 2012

Public Prayer

The other night I made a confession to the ladies in my bible study group. I confessed that I am very uncomfortable praying aloud in class.

In a class that I teach and lead.

When I am alone my words, stammers and all just seem to flow out effortlessly. I'll spend time thanking Him for blessings, acknowledging Him for whom He is, asking forgiveness for sins and requesting care and protection for all. I just talk to Him. I speak as if I were speaking to a close friend or family member. I am not concerned that I might jumble up my words or run off track. I just talk.

So why it becomes so nerve wrecking for me to pray when others are present?

Since I do spend a good deal of time teaching and speaking to groups this fear is something that I have to face and overcome. As I began to try to figure out the why part of my fear I realized that my concern was not with how God would receive my prayer but instead how the others in the room would view me and my words. The stammers do not matter when it is just me and God. He knows my heart, what it is I want to say even before the word come out of my mouth. He knows what I am asking for even when there are no words, only tears. But in a group words are needed. They are needed and I thought (worried) that the words I said mattered. I had become so concerned with trying to make sure my words were pleasing to the human ears that I forgot the pleasure my voice was to His heavenly ears. This fear has held me so tight that I would just avoid public prayer at all cost.

In the Old Testament there was a man who not only prayed a very public prayer he also prayed a very audacious prayer. Joshua chapter 10 tells us that in the middle of battle Joshua cries out to the Lord. He doesn't get down on his knees, bow his head and fold his hands. He doesn't whisper quietly within his heart. He didn't have anything written down to read to God that would ensure he stay on track. No, He simple prays, "Let the Sun stand still over Gibeon and the moon over the valley of Ajalon." And guess what happened..... THE SUN ACTUALLY STOOD STILL! His prayer was answered and the battle was finished.

I have heard this story for years, read it a few times and even heard a couple of sermons on it but reading it through the last few days I have learned a couple of new things that has given me comfort to pray in a group.

Come back here Wednesday and I share with you a few more details of how the Sun standing still has taught me to pray. 

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