The earliest recorded description of worship is to call on the name of the Lord. God has appointed prayer for salvation, edification, comfort and spiritual growth. Its importance cannot be overstressed on the one hand nor too carefully examined and exercised on the other. As preaching is God’s voice to the people, so prayer is the people’s voice to God. Both need the same unction of the Spirit and require equal care, thought and preparation.
Subject Matter in Public Prayer
Public prayer includes invocation, adoration, confession, petition, dedication, thanksgiving and blessing. It should be as specific as propriety allows and reflect an understanding of the needs of the people and of the world. There are certain subjects for which we are to pray constantly, such as, the glory of God, the furtherance of the Gospel, the extension of Christ’s kingdom, the conversion of sinners; for magistrates, our rulers and nation, all peoples of the earth, peace in the world; for the second coming of the Lord; for our own children and youth generally, all in special want, distress, sorrow and temptation, and for the final perseverance of the saints; for the overthrow of error and evil, and for temporal and spiritual blessings. In all our prayers we are to be submissive to the will of the Lord.
1 Tim. 2:1-4; Ph. 4:6; Eph. 6:18; John 12:28; 14:13; 1 John 5:14; Rev. 22:20.
Language and Address in Prayer
Reverence and sobriety (which is not to say sombreness) must be evident in our public prayer. This is vitally important because we are finite, sinful creatures addressing the infinite, holy Creator. Our language should be plain, simple, clear and becoming. We are rightly to address God as Our Father but must remember that our Lord taught us to follow this with Hallowed be thy name. The minister must remember that his congregation will include a great variety of age, experience and circumstance, and that all should be embraced within the scope of public prayer. He should take care to avoid stereotyped phrases: cliches and undue length.
Forms in Public Prayer
Historically, set forms have not been used by Free churchmen. This is still largely the case and free prayer is our usage. However, set forms should not be wholly condemned lest we deny the example which our Lord has given us in scripture, for it appears that he gave a pattern of prayer to his disciples when, as young believers, they asked to be taught.
Luke 11 :1-4.