“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
—Matthew 6:7–8“Do I have to pray out loud?” asked someone during a recent Prayer & Fasting gathering held at Territorial Headquarters.
We’ve all attended worship services that included a time of open prayer, and we listened to someone pray at great length with style and obvious ease. Secretly we thought, I can’t pray out loud like that. . . I guess I’ll pass. During these moments we should remember the words Jesus spoke to his followers during His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:7–8).
What did Jesus mean by those words? Just think about the times when you’ve been in conversation with a friend. How did it go? Perhaps it went something like this—you raised a topic, your friend made a comment about it, you added to that comment, and then you both continued talking until you exhausted the topic. At that point, you either ended the conversation, or began a new discussion on another subject. That is exactly how Conversational Prayer works!
In her book, What Happens When Women Pray, (don’t let the title mislead you; this book is for everyone!), Evelyn Christenson states that more than 50 percent of prayer meeting participants pass when offered an opportunity to pray aloud. Christenson feels so passionate about everyone experiencing the joy of praying aloud and in one accord that she developed six guidelines for doing it. She calls them the “Six S’s.”
• Subject by Subject – This assures complete concentration and fervent prayer, one request at a time.
• Short Prayers – Just one or a few sentences from each person on each subject allows time for all participants to pray, if they desire.
• Simple Prayers – People who pray aloud for the first time will find it possible to utter one simple sentence—from the heart.
• Specific Prayer Requests – A list of specific requests with careful notation of when they are answered is a great encouragement.
• Silent Periods – Don’t panic. Silence between prayers is a privilege and a blessing.
• Small Groups – This is the best way to begin praying aloud, for newcomers, as well as for shy or untrained persons.
Would you like to learn more about the joys of Conversational Prayer? Go to www.armyonitsknees.org and read on. And on this site, you’ll also find the USA East’s Territorial prayer requests.
—Colonel Janice Howard is the Secretary for Spiritual Life Development