Where should I pray?
I should pray when I am alone. Personal times of prayer and devotion to God are so important. Jesus prayed alone. Luke's Gospel is particularly good at pointing this out. In Lk. 11.1, we are told that the disciples noticed Jesus praying and asked him to teach them how to pray. We must have this eagerness to learn to pray and have a commitment to make personal prayer an important part of our life.
Designating a particular and specific time each day to pray is a good practice. The most disciplined we are, the more committed we become. Certainly, there is adanger of making prayer merely a ritual, and there needs to be a certain amount of spontaneity in our practice of prayer, but a schedule can help to keep us focused.
A prayer journal is a good resource to help us become more disciplined and focused in our prayers. A prayer journal can either be a verbatum record of our personal prayers to God, or may simply be a place to jot down those requests and concerns we wish to bring before God; a prayer journal can also be used to preserve our thoughts and feelings during and after times of prayer.
I must pray together with the church. The early church provides countless examples of times of corporate prayer. Acts 2.42 says, "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers."
Prayer needs to be emphasized as the church comes together. Public prayers must not be relegated to an afterthought or as a transitional element of worship or simply offered because they must. Public prayer is the congregation of believers speaking, through the agency of a leader, to the Father. As such, the leading of public prayer is an awesome responsibility and honor. Those who lead public prayer need to understand this, but must never forget that prayer is not about eloquence, it is about honest and forthright communication to God.
Sadly, the contemporary church has largely forgotten the power of "Amen!" "Amen" is the public declaration of the congregation that the prayer offered publically is a prayer offered by the community of faith, and not solely the one saying the prayer. "Amen" declares "This is OUR Prayer! May God hear our words!" Thus, public prayer is meant to be participatory, not passive.
I must pray together in my family. A praying family is a faithful family. A praying family is a family that loves each other and loves God.
How often does your family pray together? It should be a daily exercise, and not just a ritual before meal time. Families should set aside time in the morning and evening and pray together. These times do not have to be lenghty, a simple one sentence prayer can be effective and meaningful.
The words of Alexander Campbell are worth repeating. What scene on earth is more transcendingly interesting than a whole household gathered around the family Bible and paternal hearth, to listen to the living word of the living God; and after the oral instruction of a Christian parent, male or female, and the hymn of thanksgiving, falling down upon their knees before the Lord of heaven and earth. . . . Surely the destiny of such a family, both in time and ternity, may be expected to differ much from that of a family left, without such parental care and tenderness, to follow their own impulses or customs of an apostate world.