Prayer: Corporate vs. Personal?

This post is more of a request for consensus than anything else.  I have praise band rehearsal tonight and we start the night with 30 minutes of prayer.  We form a circle and go around the circle, there are normally eight to twelve people present so we each have about 3 minutes to pray.  My preference would be about 20 minutes of personal prayer, albeit together in the sanctuary, with the remaining ten minutes to have a group prayer led by one, two or maybe three people each week.

My thoughts are as follows. 

There are some weeks when I don’t have much of anything to say that hasn’t been said by the person who started us off.  Then what happens is I get caught up in trying to think of something clever to say.  I know we are not supposed to do this but vanity is still alive in my heart and I will feel stupid if I don’t have anything to say (admit it you’ve been there).

Matthew 10:19 (ESV)
When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.

That’s taken slightly out of context since those in the sanctuary should be fellow believers, not persecutors, but I think it still has some application.

Other weeks somebody will have so much to say that they will use the entire 30 minutes and nobody else will pray.  Again, God knows our thoughts so if we had something to add He already knows but then why would we pray as a group at all?

I don’t have a problem leading prayer or praying with a group and I realize my issues are just that, my issues, or problems with me.  Anyway, since this blog is a brotherhood of believers I thought I’d confess my foolishness and see if anybody else has had a similar situation.

Heavenly Father,
I am grateful that you hear my prayer.  Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.  I confess my vanity and insecurity and ask that you purge my heart of these things that I may know you better.  In the name of Your Son and my Saviour, Jesus Christ, I pray.
Amen

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2 Responses to “Prayer: Corporate vs. Personal?”

  1. Our church is tiny and our prayer meetings are even tinier, so it’s quite informal. We share requests first then someone opens up the prayers. After that we just let people pray as they feel like it, so if you don’t pray at all there’s no akward moment of expectation or pressure. There’s a lot of silence in between and no doubt a lot of silent prayers being offered. I rather like it that way for a smaller group. It is important, though, to keep track and be sure that all the requests were covered. In larger groups I like the model you mentioned of just one or two leading the entire group in prayer.

    I can relate to the feeling of being too self-aware. I’m always concerned I’m going to be praying with the way I’m coming across to others in mind rather than praying from the heart. I always try to filter my prayers to make sure I’m praying from pure motives, and not just to be heard praying. Then I have to decide whether or not it’s appropriate to pray for this or that thing publicly. I’m not sure I ever get it entirely right (I wonder if anyone does).

  2. Your tiny prayer meetings sound wonderful : )

    CS Lewis talked about struggling with prayer in ‘Surprised by Joy’ and said for a while he thought it was important that he felt like he had prayed or he had done it wrong. Then he realized that God wasn’t dependent on his feeling of having prayed…

    There’s an old prayer that starts out with “Lord, I’m not very good at this…”

    Maybe that’s the best way to start…

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