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3 Tips for Leading Prayer

Praying Together

by Megan Hill

This post is adapted from Praying Together:

The Priority and Privilege of Prayer by Megan Hill.How to Lead While Others Pray If the fear of public speaking is the general population’s greatest fear, fear of praying publicly may be its Christian equivalent. It is no wonder. In prayer together, the leader brings his brothers and sisters on a holy errand to the very throne room of almighty God.

But the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7), and appreciating the enormity of the task can lead us to appreciate the enormity of our help. The Christian never prays alone, and the Christian never leads others in prayer by himself but always has the promised and sufficient help of the three: the listening Father, the mediating and interceding Son, and the helping Spirit.

With this confidence, you can take steps (I’ll suggest three) to better lead others in prayer.

1. Be ready.This has several aspects. Your readiness for public prayer always begins with a regular habit of private prayer. As Samuel Miller wrote in Thoughts on Public Prayer, “None can hope to attain excellence in the grace and gift of prayer in the public assembly, unless they abound in closet devotion, and in holy communion with God in secret.”

[1] You also get ready by studying the prayers in Scripture and by paying attention to the public prayers of more mature believers. Too, you get ready to pray publicly by thinking ahead about what you might pray. Maybe a verse from your private Scripture reading or the application from a recent sermon, maybe a particular mission field or gospel opportunity, maybe a suffering friend or struggling church could become the subject of your prayer. Beyond that, you get ready to pray by resolving that you will pray if given opportunity. If you don’t intend to pray, you likely never will.

2. Be clear.Your great aim as you lead others in prayer is that they would pray along with you. Jesus strongly warns against thoughtless rambling (Matt. 6:7) and hypocrisy and pride (Matt. 6:5). Instead, you should pray with simplicity and humility, encouraging others to join their hearts to yours. It is good to pick one or two items for prayer and pray thoroughly and briefly about them; this allows others to “Amen” your petitions and leaves time for others to lead. The words and sentences of your prayer should also be clear; use the language of Scripture informed by your natural way of speaking.