The Focus of Public Prayer

Serving With Calvin by Terry Johnson

Terry Johnson Writes:

Focus public prayer on spiritual concerns. 

David Powlison, a leading counselor at the Christian Counseling Education Fellowship complains that too often “prayers from the pulpit sound like a nursing report at shift change in your local hospital.” By way of contrast New Testament prayers are almost entirely concerned with spiritual health (as in Ephesians 1, Philippians 1, Colossians 1). When an interest in physical health is expressed, it is often related to spiritual health (as in Matthew 9:1–8; 1 Corinthians 11:27 ; James 5:13–20). 

It is not that physical health ought not to be a concern in our prayers, but it’s a matter of proportion. the primary concern of public prayer ought to be the glory of God, the sanctification of the saints, and the conversion of the world. As we travel about to various churches, we are astonished to observe how little time is spent in public worship services praying for those goals which are the primary ends of Christian ministry. 

  • How much time is spent in public services confessing sin? 

  • How much time is spent pleading for spiritual growth and maturation of the members of the church? 

  • How much time is spent praying for the regular services of the church?

  • How much time is spent praying for the efficacy of the Word of God read and preached? 

  • How much time is spent praying for the edification of the saints?

  • How much time is spent praying for the conversion of unbelievers? 

The focus of public prayer should be on the eternal, the spiritual, the ecclesiastical, the ministerial and the missional.