Public Prayer: the public view of a private matter
When I hear public prayers that stir my heart with their substance/confidence, I take special note of the moment and messenger. Public prayer can be the most stimulating experience and possibly the one thing that most effectively ministers to my soul during worship. These prayers pull on the electricity of heavenly realms, sending light into my soul and releasing the unarticulated thought buried deep within me.
Why are some public prayers so poignant, so powerful? How can we learn to pray publicly with directedness, boldness, reaching the ear of God as well as touching the souls of all gathered in His Name. What is the essence of significant public prayer? To spotlight this aspect of prayer, I interviewed one of those people who have impacted me through their ‘public' prayer life. She is Commissioner Lennie Feener
JG: Commissioner, public prayer is sometimes the singular component of worship that delivers the greatest power. In your preparation, where does the language of your prayers come from?
LF: I love to pray the Psalms. I don't think there is an aspect of the inner life, the real me, that there isn't a Psalm to fit that particular moment - victory, defeat, joy, sorrow, trust, doubt - I can find a Psalm to put into words the way I am at that point. You can just start reading and soon you will find, "Wow, that's how I feel!" and then read on and see the outcome of the Psalmist's prayer. Particularly in David's Psalms - he is so open, so honest that sometimes I am put to shame because there are times when I come to God thinking, ‘He doesn't know that so I'm not going to tell Him about it.' But when I read the Psalms it reminds me of people like David who are so "laid bare" before God that there wasn't a thing about his life that God didn't know. Then I think, ‘well, I'm in the same boat - there IS nothing about me that God doesn't know.' So, just read those words and let it apply to you and God will come through for you. God puts the words of the Psalms in my mind to say at the moment of my prayer and He uses the honesty of the Psalmist to make the connection.
JG: What is your perspective on ceaseless prayer? Consistent/ceaseless prayer undoubtedly influences the strength of effective public prayer through sheer practice.
LF: Ceaseless prayer is really an attitude of the heart. Years ago, a Divisional Commander once asked me, "how's your prayer life," and it struck me that it was just that, a prayer LIFE. It is lifelong - not a season or a meeting but a lifestyle. Ceaseless prayer is living in the awareness of God's presence - perpetual reverence - living in awe of Who God is and that I can talk to Him anytime, anywhere. Prayer is to our spiritual lives what breathing is to our natural lives. Without breathing we don't live and without praying, we don't really live. It is a way of life. To quote Jack Taylor, "nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer because nothing lies beyond the reach of God."
JG: Prayer does not come from great oratory skills. If that were true, very few of us would pray publicly, hiding behind the excuses of Moses, not having the gift of speech. So, how do you craft your public prayer?
LF: Sometimes I pray to the extent of what I understand about God. I become weary of being ‘explainable.' But if we really sensed that we are praying to this awesome God, it would take us away from ourselves and into the very realm of God. Also, prayer has balance. We think God is only interested in the big issues and we can handle the little things, not bothering God with such things but it's often the little things that trip us up. We are to include them all to this big God, leaving our own limitations and entering into the boundlessness of God. So we can pray in an asking way, boldly, and with assurance of His ability as in Jer. 33:3, "Call upon me ... and I will show you great and mighty things which you could never figure out on your own." (The Message)