These rules for prayer are the doctrines and commandments of men. They are nowhere found in the Bible, and the attitude they teach is one of constant judging, because you supposedly have to know whether someone else’s prayer is being heard by God before you can acknowledge their prayer by bowing your head or closing your eyes.
- You can’t pray for anyone NOT in the church, with some exceptions (if it’s a child, or if you’re praying for an unbeliever’s salvation)
- No holding hands during prayer (is this a church-wide prohibition, or something individual congregations adhere to?)
- One must say “in Jesus name,” not “in our Savior’s name,” not “in the name of our Lord,” not “in your son’s name,” etc. If you don’t say “in Jesus name” it isn’t heard.
- If someone is praying and they aren’t part of the church, you must do one or more of the following:
- Leave the room
- Keep your eyes open
- DON’T bow your head.
- Say your own private prayer (and typically make sure your prayer lasts a few seconds beyond the end of the “sinner’s” prayer)
- You must say a prayer before all meals. I used to do this “religiously” with my family, even at restaurants, but I came to realize that there are times when we seem like Pharisees on the street corner saying “look at me.” There’s something to be said for praying privately sometimes. If we always have a heart of thankfulness to God for our blessings, verbalizing a prayer does not need to be a rule. After all, we’re to “pray without ceasing.” Now, I take public prayer at restaurants on a case by case basis, because I know there is no “rule” binding it one way or another. I am “unceasingly” thankful to God for my food and other blessings.
- If the person praying forgets a prayer request, they say another prayer to include the forgotten prayer request. This is especially true in the prayer following the public confession period.
- You can’t say a prayer if you have a “sin you haven’t taken care of.” If someone calls on you for prayer, you need to pass.
- I don’t know if it’s a specific rule, but chain prayers (prayers where multiple people contribute out loud) are looked down upon because they’re not serious enough.
- Praying in 17th century English is encouraged (using “thee” and “thou” in particular).
Luke 18:10-14 – Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
The Lord knows those who are His, and we surely don’t. When I say “amen” to someone’s prayer (which simply means “so be it”), I am simply endorsing the words they are saying, not their religious beliefs, their personal sins, or their life choices.
Colossians 3:17 – And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Everything we do–not just our prayers, everything–is to be done “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” So when I bring a meal to a sick person do I need to say “in Jesus’ name” when I hand it to them? When I give my little girl a big hug before bed at night, because I love her with the love that God put inside of me, do I have to say “in Jesus’ name?” When I show kindness, compassion and forgiveness to people who have done me wrong, do I have to tell them “in Jesus name” that I’m being kind to them?
Of course not. The point Paul is making, and the point Jesus was making when he instructed us to ask everything in his name, is simply a timeless piece of wisdom from Solomon applied by Jesus for the Christian era:
Proverbs 3:6 – In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
In everything we do or say, whether it’s our prayers or our actions, we should acknowledge and give honor to Jesus. Words are optional, in fact, sometimes words get in the way of our message. Hence the old adage that “actions speak louder than words.”
h/t to Andrea, Mckenzie and anonymous contributors for this list
Great list…just a few additions off the top of my head, if the person praying forgets a prayer request in their prayer, they say another prayer to include the forgotten prayer request. And also, the only time we would get on our knees to pray was for "very serious situations". I remember that happening a handful of times growing up. You can't say a prayer if you have a "sin you haven't taken care of". I remember knowing when one of my parents had a "sin" on them because they would pass the prayer at the dinner table or bedtime.… Read more »
My question is: what happened to all those prayers for all those years when the church was teaching wrong understandings (which they admit), making wrong judgments based on wrong exegesis of scripture (which they admit); had people in their midst that were unscripturally withdrawn from at the hands of those praying (which they admit), had families in their midst that were split up because the church had a wrong the understanding of remarriage (which they admit)? At any given time they believe that they have it all figured out…. until they don't…. and then they change the teaching and then… Read more »
This is an excellent point. I know they believe that prayers are unheard when the praying person has sin on their soul. What if it's a private sin, and he's praying for the forgiveness of other people publicly? Are their sins unforgiven because God didn't hear his prayers because he was sinning privately? Why do we as humans need to be so consumed with judging whether someone else is a sinner or not. Can't we all just stipulate that we are all sinners and don't have it all "going on" in the righteousness department, and give each other the grace… Read more »
YES Kevin. God is either merciful or He isn't and it's not for the church to decide or judge the particulars of God's mercies. We should be begging for mercy and showing mercy because we realize just how feeble we are. Psalms 118:29 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
If we ask for abundant mercy we must be filled with mercy ourselves. Don't allow men to be God's 'mercy meter'; that's not a duty assigned to us.
Anonymous 11:29, amen and amen. Matthew 7:2 – For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. I believe the harsh and unloving upbringing many (not all) had in the church stemmed directly from the harsh and unloving teaching style of church leaders, which in turn stemmed from their harsh and unloving view of our loving God. If we truly think God is consumed with petty rules (like whether you MUST attend another congregation's events if you're within a certain proximity, or whether you can… Read more »
All I know is what I've observed with the exception of one thing, I was asked through the grapevine to not hold hands when some coc kids were at my house. That request was in reference to having the kids during the November meetings.
Hey, does anybody know if they serve turkey at those meetings? It is usually during thanksgiving, right? Haha… and is there a clear rule about whether celebrating thanksgiving is ok? I know families who do and ones who don't. I'll remain anonymous in case some if them get busted.
Yes turkey has been served at a November meeting.
After my husband became a Christian and we had one of our first fellowships, he said the meal prayer. Well, he was told by a young Christian woman to say it again because he didn't quite say Bless the Food. I think he got stuck thanking God for other things, like brethren. I was offended in my heart because it was his first public prayer and boy oh boy did I have to shut down my pride to not tell her anything! I adore her and she just has a strong personality, but this is totally how things are done… Read more »