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Dangerous Prayers

As I reflect on my pastoral prayers in worship, I must confess some wrongs I have committed in the past. Great is the temptation to keep making them.

Smuggling prayers. If I didn't make a point very well in the sermon, I am tempted to take one more stab at it in the prayer. Sentences beginning "Teach us that … " are probably not voicing what is on the hearts of the people. I must learn to leave the preaching to the sermon.

Systematic theology prayers. We Presbyterians are particularly bad at this. We can't offer a blessing without explaining the doctrine of the Trinity. There is certainly a place in worship for helping the congregation to get the theology right, but prayer isn't that place. I'm learning to avoid the prolegomena and jump right into the truth telling.

Partisan prayers. Every congregation confronts issues about which there are differences of opinion. I have my views, too, but prayer is not the place to lobby for the vote I want on the building program. When Abraham Lincoln ...

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From Issue:Spring 1999: Real Worship
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