A woman once confessed to me that she had turned down the call to serve as an elder in her church because she was afraid of being asked to lead prayer.  Some people are more afraid of this than they are of snakes, tornadoes or the heartbreak of psoriosis.  My guess is that they were cowed into silence by those who can and do effortlessly spout out intricate orations to God on a second’s notice.  That is sad because Jesus himself suggested that God likes short, sincere prayers and may even take off points for windy ones.

So for all the saints who feel faint at the thought of their Sunday School teacher turning to them and saying “Sam, would you close us in prayer'” here is the Joan Gray foolproof five step method for doing it in public.

1. Address God.  Say “God,”  “Dear God,”  “Lord” or whatever feels good to you.  One of my favorites, though it is a little long is “Dear Three-in-one and One-in-three.”

2.  State the obvious.  Where are you and what is going on.  “We are here at this committee meeting trying to do the business of your church.”  “We came to circle tonight needing to be together and hear your Word.”  “We are so sad that our good friend Sue is sick.”  Beginners should not make this section more than one sentence.  You can expand as you get more comfortable.

3.  Say what you want.  “We need your Holy Spirit to guide us.”  “We want our sick friends to get well.”  This can be a couple of sentences but keep it short.  You can always cover yourself with a neat line from the Episcopal prayer book: “God give us all the things we need whether we have remembered to pray for them or not.”

4.  Thank God.  It is important to acknowledge God’s providential care for us, so thank God in advance for whatever God is going to do in response to our prayers.  A simple “Thank you, God” covers this nicely.

5.  Say “We pray this in Jesus’ name.  AMEN.”  And quit.

Try this out and let me know how you get on.