I Just Wanna End Small Group Prayer

This should put a stop to it — just have believers think about what they say before they pray:

1. Avoid vain repetition. The one leading in prayer should be careful not to say, “O Father,” “Holy Father” or “Lord” over and over and over again.

2. Avoid hesitation and stumbling. The one leading in prayer should spend time on the prayer prior to the service so that he does not come across unprepared.

3. Avoid ungrammatical expressions. For example, the one leading in prayer should avoid such phrases as “Grant to give us…” “Grant to impart to us…” Grant and give are verbs expressing the same thing. This is a redundant and inaccurate use of language.

4. Avoid disorder. We need regularity and order in our prayer. The ACTS acronym is helpful: Include prayers of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (i.e. Petition and Intercession). By following an order, the one leading in prayer can help those he is leading pray along unhindered.

5. Avoid praying in minute detail for certain things. Balance out prayers in general. Especially for a Lord’s Day morning service. It is good to pray according to the same general nature for all the things for which the one leading prays. If there is a man or woman who has a terminal sickness, it is sufficient to plead with the Lord to heal that individual. There is no need to go into all the specifics of that with what he or she is dealing.

This is based on Samuel Miller’s thoughts on prayer which goes on for another 13 items. Not quite Rick Warren like, so not enough for forty days of driving your way to a life of purpose. But if Christians ever had to consider that praying in public does not come naturally to some believers, this post might get them started. And it really would throw a wrench into the praying patters of the seemingly intimate small group.

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24 thoughts on “I Just Wanna End Small Group Prayer

  1. Wouldn’t the best way to avoid this kind of how and tell is to avoid public prayer? Or is it important that men be English or history majors before they go off to seminary to get professional certification in Hebrew and Greek?

    Matthew 7: 5 “Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! 6 But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret.”

    But even the private pietist can say, “Come look at my prayer closet”…

    I suppose it depends on “which public”. The visible covenant teaches us that the visible church, at least in the good old days, was the same set of people as all the citizens of the city-state, with non-church members executed or banished from the city. The covenant is broader than election, and even though the proper purpose of redemptive covenant is salvation in Christ, the administration of covenant in public has extra purposes other than merely securing the salvation of all those elected in Christ. Emotional enthusiasts who reduce the covenant to the privacy of the God-man as the only mediator between individuals and God are sectarians we must always suspect of sedition against the city-state.

    http://heidelblog.net/2013/05/clarkson-public-worship-to-be-preferred-before-private/

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  2. Can we start with all due respect and humility to pray for believers to accept dying in the Lord and stop demanding healing when it’s a brutal hopeless cause? With all due respect.

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  3. So, I’m okay then? It’s okay that I’ve felt uncomfortable about this for years? Just looking for reassurance from total strangers, thanks in advance.

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  4. George, you beat me to the “Jesus Weejus” comment.

    I hate praying in public. I hate all the bull that people spew to make themselves look “holy.” Then there’s me with my, “God, I suck. Please help. Thanks.”

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  5. Great post.

    I must admit, though, that …..I’m still wary….and weary….even leary….and not very cheery…of (C.J. Mahaney-style) small groups……..

    but, maybe…..if it’s meeting with those you can confide in, who will not judge/condescend, and the sharing is mutual and with respect/privacy, then it’s OK.

    Still, it’s been my experience that being ‘intimate’ otherwise brings out the ‘elder brothers’ in the group, the gossips, and a certian ‘stamp’ upon your life which is difficult to overcome because you ‘become typecast’ in a certain way.
    I do think that if something needs to be shared as a prayer concern, it doesn’t need to become public in order to be heard and answered by our Lord, especially if it is sensitive in nature.

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  6. Semper Fi – Yes, I agree totally. For a great read along these lines see if you can get ahold of a copy of Joe Myers’ 2003 book, “The Search to Belong: Rethinking Intimacy, Community, and Small Groups,” Zondervan, Grand Rapids, ISBN: 10:0-310-25500-0 or 13:978-0-310-25500-0. I’m sure it’s out of print, but you might be able to find a cheap copy on Amazon or just through I.L.L.

    I guarantee that his publication will put it all into perspective for you. I’ve quoted the author/tittle and selected readings from some of the chapters to a pastor who is bent on small groups or else and he didn’t like what it had to say one bit. It’s all about do it our way (because that’s the trendy thing to do) or no way.

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  7. Thanks so much George! Appreciate the reference/recommendation. It’s nice to know that ‘we’re not alone’. Sincerely mean it……..

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  8. I hate all the bull that people spew to make themselves look “holy.”
    Then there’s me with my, “God, I suck. Please help. Thanks.”

    Humblebrag much?

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  9. In NAPARC churches Small groups have always been the place where power trippers can best sell things, control something or someone. They (still to this day for the most part) can’t as easily get away with that in the Covenant renewal ceremony of “Called Worship.” Hopefully this will continue to remain difficult and most NAPARC churches.
    The Sunday school movement , mid week small group, etc, is a rather new innovative experiential endeavor of the last 200 years mainly. It’s always fascinating to me to see who loves these extracurricular times, but seem not near as appreciative as the ordinary means Worship service. As for me and my household it’s why we don’t enjoy for the most part “Sunday school” or mid week meeting. To make that statement in 2016 even among the reformed is to sound heretical however. Nonetheless I’ll stand by the statement.

    There are in fact FOUR sacraments in the modern protestant church, at least for all practical purposes.
    1. The Lord’s supper
    2. Baptism
    3. Musical instruments accompanied by man written songs.
    4. Small groups

    Would anyone like to make a guess as to the order of importance of these four?

    Obey, heed and do not question.

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  10. The order of importance in the modern Protestant church for their FOUR sacraments is…….
    1. Musical instruments accompanied by man written songs.
    2. Small groups (coming in at a very close second)
    3. Baptism (ideal is believers decisional)
    4. The Lord’s Supper (totally fine if only done once per quarter, no biggie)

    To whatever degree NAPARC churches have or are following this model/order is disturbing.

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  11. I know this isn’t very reformed of me but sometimes I just get tired of the need to criticize absolutely everything. Can prayer in small groups be somewhat vapid at times? Sure. Can it also be life-changing and powerful as people slowly learn to actually pray together and for one another? Yes. But I guess not if bad grammar is involved.

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  12. TJT, but what if other believers are uncomfortable with praying in public? That’s the point. But if you question small group prayer you “criticize absolutely everything”? You aren’t my wife, are you?

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  13. @TJT, you should know that DGH is a warm fuzzy sensitive kind of guy. He’d never want to see anyone be “uncomfortable”.

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  14. See?

    God’s people have their reasons for missing midweek church activities due to their other callings from the Lord in life. Yet, in my experience, everyone shows up for the regular Lord’s Day service. It’s as though attending the weekly meeting on the first day of the week to call on God’s name is woven into the DNA of the child of God. I’m then reminded as a pastor to rejoice that God’s people are so committed to meeting him corporately according to his command to adore him, to thank him, to confess their sins to him, and to lay their petitions before him.

    We as leaders must not burden people with more than what the Scripture requires or browbeat and shame them for lack of participation in non-essentials. The saints do not exist to support midweek programs of the church. Even good things like midweek prayer gatherings.

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  15. oh, ok, some things are just not ‘woven into the DNA of the child of God’ – those ‘non-essentials’

    See? Now He was telling them a parable to show that …at all times ..…they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him ….day and night…. and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:1 -8

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  16. One other very relevant dynamic to all of this is how much the extra programs distract from the Lord’s Supper.
    If the Lord’s Supper really means and accomplishes what we (by we I mean Reformed folk) claim it does, why on earth do we not do it once a week??

    “He testifies to us and strengthens us in our salvation in Christ by sealing to His people Christ’s twofold benefits: justification and sanctification.” ….”the Lord’s Supper as a means to Christian growth.”

    Women’s study, Men’s study, mid week prayer groups, small groups, Saturday Men’s prayer breakfast, social committee meetings, deacon study, session meetings, Committee meetings of all sort, manner and programmatic method, etc. etc. These are high and lifted up in many a NAPARC church , in many cases much more than the regular observance of the Lord’s Supper. I know that may sound harsh, but it is a matter of record. Yet I boldly, but with humility and gentleness ask which one of all these has the Lord more prominently instituted? Which one has Jesus our Lord encouraged …”Do this in remembrance of me…” Just like the Reformed churches have a solid historical argument for Psalm singing A cappella, so to there is a solid argument from church history (a history which goes far beyond the “killing times”) for more frequent Lord’s Supper observance. I am quite sure the early church didn’t have a social committee, yet I am just as sure that they did Communion far far more frequently than do we.
    Shouldn’t the Lord’s Supper be given higher priority over these other things? Should it not be done more than once per month or once per quarter?

    (PS..I’m not saying we need to jettison the social committee, calm down.)

    https://heidelblog.net/2016/11/the-evangelical-fall-from-the-means-of-grace/

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