The prayers of:
Some of our godly forefathers put as much effort into their prayers as they put into their sermons. That is, like as their sermons were a blend of reading from notes, of Spirit-assisted extemporaneous & impromtu speaking, even so were their prayers.
Significantly, when "one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples" (Luke 11:1), the Great Shepherd of The Sheep did not correct John for trying to teach them, or say: "guys: just wing it." Could it be that in reaction to the dead, rote, lifeless, word-for-word repeated prayers of Roman Catholicism, we have gone to another extreme(?)
The purpose of this page is to set forth the excellent example of the public prayers of the late L. R. Shelton Jr. (pastor of Mt. Zion Bible church & founder of Chapel Library). They are all taken basically raw & as-is, from his sermons which we have elsewhere on our site (here). They have remarkable depth, variety, and freshness.
Thankfully, it is becoming increasingly understood in our day that preaching is not just an isolated act --- but the culminating event in our times of public worship. Even so are Pastor Shelton's prayers: they are not isolated petitions for God's blessing upon the pending sermon, but beautiful and (at times) extended devotions of worship and praise to the Triune God -- a part of which may (or may not) include requests for His owning of the pending preaching.
Here is a question for any pastors who might be reading these lines: if we were to begin posting your public prayers, say -- from your last dozen or so sermons -- would the sheep desire to stop at number 2 or 3 or 4 or 5, and say: "Okay, I got it, I got it: they basically are all the same, and predictable"(?). The lively sheep under your care and ministry are there to worship, and are continuing their acts of devotion and worship as you pray for & deliver the sermon. The prayers then need to be lively and fresh, and should not throw a wet blanket on their public devotions by tempting them to doze off, or to say: "same-old same old. He always begins the same -- ends the same ,, and most in the middle is likewise - fundamentaly - the same." Please consider putting some more prayerful thought and effort into your public devotional acts of prayer!
Some have found it helpful to have a 3x5 card in their Bibles, with the headings: Prayer Meeting; Worship: Pastoral Prayer; Pre-Sermon / Post-Sermon, etc., so that as they read the Scriptures during the week, they can jot down passages which become the foundational seed-beds of the public prayers. Some of our hymns are likewise treasure-troves along these lines (see Nos. 256-267 in the Trinity Hymnal for example). This way, the prayers will be moving towards being as wide and broad and fresh as is the Word of God itself.