Thirty Two Principles for Public Prayer
2. Hesitation and apparent embarrassment in articulation. Long, awkward pauses and grasping for words detract from the power of public prayer.
3. Ungrammatical expressions in prayer. Rules of grammar and syntax should be studiously observed lest our poor form of speech become a stumbling block to those congregated for worship.
4. A lack of order and certain important elements of prayer. Disorderliness is a distraction for people who are trying to pray along with the one leading in prayer. During our public worship every biblical element of prayer (such as adoration, confession, thanksgiving, petition, and intercession) should be employed. If there is only one comprehensive prayer in the service it should exhibit each part of prayer. If the various parts of prayer are divided into multiple prayers then each element should be given due prominence within the service. Corporate prayer which ignores or neglects any one of these elements is essentially defective.
5. Too much detail in particular elements of prayer. We should aim for proportion between the various parts of the prayer.
6. Praying too long. Excessive length in public prayer should be avoided. “Long prayers are for the closet.” In Miller’s day, when attention spans were much longer than our own, he recommended 12-15 minutes at the most. The reader may judge what is appropriate for his own situation.
7. The employment of allegorical style in prayer. Overuse of highly figurative language is to be discouraged and simplicity of form commended.
8. Introduction of allusions to party politics, and personalities in prayer. These are serious faults in public prayer. On the matter of prayer and politics the wise and learned Dr. Miller, toward the end of his earthly course, said, “I resolved, more than thirty years ago, never to allow myself, either in public prayer or preaching, to utter a syllable, in periods of great political excitement and party strife, that would enable any human being so much as to conjecture to which side in the political conflict I leaned.” With regard to alluding to specific personalities in prayer, it may be noted in passing that it is never appropriate to pray “at” someone in public worship.
9. Usage of unsuitably affectionate or intimate language in prayer. The inappropriate use of amatory language (particularly when directed toward the persons of the Trinity) ought to be avoided in public devotions. This language, no matter how well intentioned, often has the appearance of being artificial or quaint.
10. The injection of comedy into prayer. The practice of indulging in wit, humor, or sarcasm in public prayer is absolutely inexcusable and should not be tolerated.