Twice in my life I have been specifically chosen to pray in a group setting. The first time was rather daunting…I was 17 and on Lassiter High School’s cross-country team. The annual cross-country banquet was approaching and someone needed to pray before the meal. I guess in a sea of mainly very token Christians on the team, I came across to one of the moms in charge of organizing events as a little more serious about my faith and she asked me to say the prayer.
Well, I am ashamed to say I was ill prepared in that time of my life to really seize that wonderful opportunity for God. I did not consider beforehand what I would pray when I got to the front of the room and all that came out at first were a few nervous giggles. Though I did pray something, it simply was not all it could have been. I was thinking more about the opinions of those in the room then about God and dwelling on Him.
Fast forward 8 years…last week at the table of my aunt and uncle, I was taken a back at first but very touched when Aunt Susan asked me to say the prayer before the delicious meal she had prepared. I had just assumed she would ask Rick and he is more experienced at praying in public then I am.
Though the moment may not have immediately seemed as potentially glorious an opportunity as the first since there were over a hundred present at that one, I was ready for this second one, spur of the moment as it was. And being able to pray over a meal with relatives I do not often see…it showed me the opportunity to pray as a Christian is not a thing to be taken lightly. It is incredible too when you can tell time has brought you closer to God and talking to Him becomes a more natural, sincere activity, even when done in front of others.
Yet, group prayer will never be as comfortable a practice for me as coming to God on my own. There is definitely something to be said for the ability to come to God in private without having to worry about how things sound or come across! There are those who have a gift of praying publicly in a way that touches others. Fortunately for all of us, there is no need for performance based prayer and in God’s eyes, the state of our hearts is what matters above anything else!