Though all are commanded to pray, it is the men who are to lead in prayer. They are to be leaders at home and leaders in Christ’s church. But just as the apostles confessed their inadequacy at this heavenly engagement, we, much lesser men, readily admit of the same difficulty. However spontaneous this exercise may be, we need to be guided as to how to pray.
That was the rationale of our men’s retreat last Saturday. The subject was “The Godly Man’s Prayer Life.”
The first message tackled the issue of the private prayer life of a man. While a number of reasons could be given as to why we pray, we merely focused on the most basic: it is commanded. Hopefully, this would not be the only reason why we pray. I am sure there are loftier motives. But why the need for a command at all?
The answer is sin. Sin detracts us and hinders us from drawing near to God. It makes us disbelieve God and it causes us to believe in ourselves. It makes the glitter of the world more attractive to us than the unfading beauty of our Savior. It pictures God as unforgiving and unapproachable whenever we come with a heavy heart, convicted of sin.
That is why we need to be commanded. We need to be told. We need to be encouraged. We need to be taught that we can pray without ceasing because God has His hears open to our cries at all times. Approaching God as repentant sinners, undeserving of the least of His mercies, we should never expect to be turned away!
The second message dealt with the practice of public prayer, that is, leading in prayer meetings.
There is a component of public prayer that is absent in private prayer, and that is the element of edification. The men who lead at a prayer meeting do not pray their own personal prayers (much less their personal devotions), they are acting as the voice of the whole congregation as the church draws near to God. Thus, they must pray loud and clear enough to be understood by all.
The bugle call in an army must be distinct enough for the soldiers to know that they are not being called to chow but to attack the enemy! The same is true in public prayer. How can the saints express their agreement when the prayer of the one leading is so indistinct it sounds like gibberish? Or how could the people say amen when they are lulled to dreamland by the circuitous route the prayer takes towards its destination?
The men have to be direct to the point. Long prayers are not necessarily more pious. In fact, God knows what we need even before we begin to pray.
Thanks be to God for the reminders. I pray that the retreat would stimulate more private prayer among the men. In addition, I pray that there would be more edifying prayers in our prayer meetings.
We’ll see this on Thursday!