Teach Men to Pray in Public

February 20, 2017

When I was an associate pastor, Brother Willie was one of the two ushers in our church. Every time the pastor would call on the other usher for prayer. One Sunday, the pastor was away and I said, “Brother Willie Johnson, will you lead us in our offertory prayer?” Immediately, a look of sheer panic flashed across Brother Johnson’s face.

The day Brother Willie almost died of heart failure was the first time I realized that a mature Christian man might not be able to pray out loud in public. Since that day I have met many men who have difficulty leading in public prayer.

Can these men learn to pray in public? If so, how can we help them overcome their fears and feelings of inadequacy? Christian men need to be taught to pray, and especially to pray in public. Here are some things I have found to be helpful:

Teach Them to Pray Naturally
Early in my ministry I was working with new Christians in a drug rehabilitation program in California. One of the young men told us he couldn’t pray because he didn’t know all the big words he heard others use.

We shared with him he could talk to God using words he was familiar with in normal, conversational language. He learned he could pray and did so often in group prayer times.

Practice in Small Groups
You don’t throw an inexperienced man out to pray in the Sunday morning worship service. Help him get started in a small group like a Sunday School class or men’s prayer group.

Begin by teaching the basics of prayer. A simple tools to use is the A-C-T-S prayer acrostic:

  • A stands for Adoration.
    Adoration is telling God we love Him and why. Teach men the attributes of God and what they mean to us. This prayer can be as simple as: “We love you, Lord, because You are always with us.”
  • C stands for Confession.
    Confession needs to be a private matter between the believer and God, but we do need to teach men how to confess their sins in prayer. Along with this, they also need to learn when they do honestly confess their sin, they are assured of forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
  • T stands for Thanksgiving.
    We have more to be thankful for than we might imagine. Teach men to “count their blessings” and give thanks to the Lord for them.
  • S stands for Supplication.
    This word simply means to earnestly or humbly ask for something. It includes asking for others (intercession) and asking for ourselves.

After learning the basics, the men began with sentence prayers. One week they were asked to say a sentence prayer of thanksgiving. Another week it was a sentence prayer of praise or supplication. After a while the men were praying several sentences and then complete prayers. Several of the men gained enough self-confidence to pray in worship or in prayer meetings.

Familiarize Them with the Sound of Their Voices
A person who does not pray out loud in private prayer is often uncomfortable with the sound of his own voice. Ask the men to begin praying out loud when they are by themselves. As they grow more comfortable with the sound of their own voices in private prayer, they will become more comfortable praying in public.

Be a Model for Men
The most important thing a pastor and other leaders can do to help the younger and less mature men learn to pray effectively is to model how to pray. If we stand before the congregation to impress them or God with our vocabulary, we will have taught that prayer is for the benefit of the people who hear it, and not to commune with our God. If we stand before the congregation and have a personal conversation with our Creator and Savior, then we will be giving a positive example that others can learn from and follow.

As far as I know, Willie Johnson never learned to pray in public, but the lesson he taught me will be with me forever. I never want to embarrass another man like Willie Johnson, but on the other hand, I do want to help men learn to pray. There will always be men in our churches who never learn to pray in public, but we can successfully teach many to lead God’s people into His presence in prayer.

Rik Danielsen is pastor, Brown Road Baptist Church, Mesa, Ariz. This article is taken from a previously published article. Used by permission.