Although it’s been years since I’ve been in a regular church situation, I can still conjure up the feelings of dread I felt at “prayer time,” sitting around a circle (we’re told it’s “intimate”) and sharing details about our lives. The worst part was when we all bowed our heads and prayed for one another, for several reasons:
1) People mumble, and it’s hard to hear what they’re saying.
2) There is a subtle, yet strong pressure to speak up — even when one does not like talking in a group setting.
3) The present day set-up, which is almost universally adopted by churches, regardless of their denomination, is socially awkward.
4) Corporate group prayer, as practiced by corporate group churches, is shallow, and results in stilted, awkward prayers that could just as easily be read out of a book.
Prayer is a conversation, after all — and the best conversations are one on one. So it is when we pray to our God and Father: while group prayer has its place (and would have an even stronger place if it were more sensitively, thoughtfully, and effectively done), individual prayer between the believer and his Lord is vitally important.
The problem is, so many people associate modern corporate prayer as the “right” way to pray, that they translate this technique into their private conversations with God — resulting in stilted, awkward, shallow, frustrating monologues.
This is especially sad, because our God is a very personal God, one who desires a close and intimate relationship with His children. And one of the ways we can grow in this intimate relationship is through prayer.