Prayer is such an important topic, so it’s important that we do it right. We would not want anyone talking to their creator as if he’s their father, or anything gushy like that. We must always approach the throne of grace cautiously, with a great deal of formality, keeping in mind our own superstitions, cultural norms, and rules of men.
- Only pray for Stanton members. God has enough on his hands dealing with our little group, we shouldn’t burden him with requests regarding non-members we don’t even know personally. The only time you can pray for someone NOT in the Stanton Church of Christ is if it’s for their salvation. This means you should not pray for your enemies (real Christians have a lot of them), nor should you pray for the health of sick or dying family members or co-workers. By no means should you offer to pray for the health of non-members in your workplace.
- Don’t hold hands during a prayer. This could give way to lascivious, flirtatious, or other inappropriate behavior while everyone’s eyes are closed. But mostly, it’s just socially uncomfortable in Stanton Churches of Christ. We just don’t do that.
- Don’t lift up your hands in prayer. It’s important not to lift up your hands in prayer (or worship—that would be wholly innappropriate). Stanton is definitley not a handraising church, since we should not want to do things that the denominational world does, even if they are Biblically sanctioned.
- You must say “in Jesus name, amen.” At the end of each prayer, you must say “in Jesus name, amen” for it to be heard by God. This is the only proper formula, much like the Catholic Rosary or other prayer formulas. Do not say “in our Savior’s name,” “in the name of the Lord Jesus,” “in your son’s name,” or any other variation, because your prayer won’t be heard. It’s true that Colossions 3:14 says to do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus—like doing our jobs, camping with our families, or tucking our kids in at night—but of course we only apply this verse to prayer. It’s just easier to make a formula out of it.
- Disrespect others’ prayers. If someone is praying and they aren’t part of the Stanton Church of Christ, you must do one or more of the following:a) Leave the room.
b) Keep your eyes open.
c) Don’t bow your head.
d) Say your own private prayer, making sure to keep your eyes closed until AFTER the sinner’s prayer (no pun intended) is finished. This is the preferred option, in most cases.While there is some latitude in applying this rule, the most important thing is that you can’t give anyone the impression that their prayer was heard by God. You alone must judge their standing before God and the acceptability of their prayer.
Note: It’s true that the person who said “we all know that God doesn’t hear the prayers of a sinner” was speaking as an uninspired man to the Pharisees who were trying to trap Jesus. But don’t worry, “we all know” he was right, because it’s self-evident.
- Only call on good rule-keepers to pray publicly. It’s important not to call on someone to pray who is not properly adhering to the rules for attire or the other rules listed below. If you know someone is questioning even one church teaching to see if it’s Biblical, it’s important not to reward them by calling on them for public prayer. That, after all, is the purpose of public prayer—to show how holy the pray-er is, and to show the approval before men of the one calling on him.