By Ronnie Floyd
Do you ever wonder why it is important for pastors to pray publicly?
The pastor should be one of the greatest prayer warriors in their church and in their city.
Prayer led by the pastor of the church used to be a normal part of worship services. What was deemed in the past as a part of public worship, has now been minimized, eliminated, or delegated.
This is not acceptable or good for the church. It is certainly not biblical. We need to bring prayer back into public worship services in the church.
There are several examples in the Scriptures where spiritual leaders called out to God in prayer before the people of God. Their prayers were passionate, from the heart, and meaningful.
As the spiritual leader of the church, when you pray, you are standing in the gap for the people of God. Here are seven considerations for pastors praying publicly.
1. Public prayer begins with private prayer.
Just as an athlete cannot be in the proper shape to play in a game without working out each day, a pastor cannot expect to pray powerfully in public if his private prayer life is weak.
One of the most powerful experiences of my life occurred when someone challenged me to prioritize prayer in my life.
When I embraced prayer in my college years, not only did it change my life, it also became formative for everything in my life.
2. Public prayer must be biblical.
Prayer is built on the Word of God. The Bible, what God says, ignites our prayers spiritually and ascends our prayers effectively.
This prevents us from getting out of balance or off into theological error. Great prayer warriors base their praying on God’s Word, the surest truth in this world.
The most highly intelligent and theologically astute should be the greatest prayer warriors on the face of the earth. They should realize the Bible is God’s Word and authority on all things, praying with deep belief in God and His power.
It is also biblical to pray in agreement and unity. Teach your people how to be engaged while you and others are praying.
Agreeing in prayer brings the church together in unity. Unified churches become stronger churches. Churches unified in prayer based upon God’s Word become healthier churches.
The pastor needs to set up the context for this prayer moment. He can do this before or after asking the congregation to bow their heads, preparing to pray.
Plan this moment with diligence. It is not about the length of this moment as much as it is about you leading the people of God in an effective way.
Give them time to focus in and help them prepare their hearts to agree with you in prayer.
4. Public prayer must have the right timing.
The timing for you to pray in worship is very important. I prefer to set this time just before we receive the offering. For us, this usually occurs just before the final song before the message, and it becomes a ministry time.
One other thing: pastor, do not shorten this time. Your people need to hear you pray and they also need you to do so in a way that is genuine, not just checking the list of things we do in worship services.
Allocate enough time for a three to five-minute prayer led by the pastor. If you need more time to set it up, then add a minute or two in order to make this a special moment for your church.
Having latitude to follow the Spirit of God is key in any worship service. If we are not careful, we are going to schedule God right out of our public worship services in the church.
5. Public prayer should be planned.
The ministry of prayer in worship needs to be a planned time. It should have purpose. Just like other things, if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.
Without prior planning by the pastor, this time can become meaningless and disconnected, devaluing this time of prayer in the eyes of the people.
The pastor can even list the topics of prayer to the people before the prayer begins.
6. Public prayer should be passionate and convictional.
Pastor, when you pray, pray passionately and with conviction. The people will then also become passionate in their prayers when they see modeled before them a pastor who prays with passion.
Conviction is not just something you have in your heart, it is something that has you. When you pray, you want people to see that you believe it, and it really matters.
We should never be afraid to have our emotions authentically involved while we are praying, from enthusiasm to expectation, to weeping, and perhaps even shouting.
7. Public prayers should be national and global.
Pastors and churches need to pray for our national leaders, and about situations existing in the nation and across the globe. If we really believe in prayer, we need to act like it relating to national and global needs and crises.
Please do not confuse this with being political. A pastor can pray for leaders and situations without becoming involved in the politics surrounding these things.
Always take the high road, pray for the needs, and be an example to the people in this way.
For example, on the Sunday before the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 2, you could call attention to the day, encourage people to participate in a local prayer gathering, and lead in a prayer for America.
The church needs to hear you pray.
Pastor, recapture the pastoral prayer in your public worship services. I want to appeal to you, always pray before your people in public worship services.
You are the God-called and God-anointed pastor of the church. Do not delegate prayer away from your leadership. Now is the time to lead.
RONNIE FLOYD (@RonnieFloyd) is the senior pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas and author of over 20 books on Christian prayer and discipleship. He is also the National Day of Prayer President.