LONG PRAYERS NOT A PART OF THE GOSPEL
The long prayers made by some ministers have been a
great failure. Praying to great length, as some do, is all out
of place. They injure the throat and vocal organs, and then
they talk of breaking down by their hard labor. They injure
themselves when it is not called for. Many feel that praying
injures their vocal organs more than talking. This is in
consequence of the unnatural position of the body, and the
manner of holding the head. They can stand and talk, and not
feel injured. The position in prayer should be perfectly natural.
Long praying wearies, and is not in accordance with the
gospel of Christ. Half or even quarter of an hour is altogether
too long. A few minutes’ time is long enough to bring your
case before God and tell Him what you want; and you can
take the people with you and not weary them out and lessen
their interest in devotion and prayer. They may be refreshed
and strengthened, instead of exhausted.
A mistake has been made by many in their religious
exercises in long praying and long preaching, upon a high
key, with a forced voice, in an unnatural strain and an unnatural
tone. The minister has needlessly wearied himself
and really distressed the people by hard, labored exercise,
which is all unnecessary. Ministers should speak in a manner
to reach and impress the people. The teachings of Christ
were impressive and solemn; His voice was melodious. And
should not we, as well as Christ, study to have melody in
SPECIFIC NATURE OF PUBLIC PRAYER
The prayers offered by ministers previous to their discourses
are frequently long and inappropriate. They embrace
a whole round of subjects that have no reference to
the necessities of the occasion or the wants of the people.
Such prayers are suitable for the closet, but should not be
offered in public. The hearers become weary and long for the
minister to close. Brethren, carry the people with you in your
prayers. Go to your Saviour in faith, tell Him what you need
on that occasion. Let the soul go out after God with intense
longing for the blessing needed at that time.
LONGER SECRET PRAYERS, SHORT PUBLIC PRAYERS
Long prayers are tiring to those who hear, and do not
prepare the people to listen to the instruction that is to follow.
It is often because secret prayer is neglected that long,
tedious prayers are offered in public. Let not ministers go over in their petitions a week of neglected duties, hoping
to atone for their neglect and to pacify conscience. Such
prayers frequently result in bringing others down to a low
level of spirituality.
FOR CHILDREN, FREQUENCY BETTER THAN LENGTH
Those who instruct children should avoid tedious remarks.
Short remarks and to the point will have a happy
influence. If much is to be said, make up for briefness by
frequency. A few words of interest now and then will be
more beneficial than to have it all at once. Long speeches
burden the small minds of children. Too much talk will lead
them to loathe even spiritual instruction, just as overeating
burdens the stomach and lessens the appetite, leading even
to a loathing of food. The minds of the people may be glutted
with too much speechifying. Labor for the church, but
especially for the youth, should be line upon line, precept
upon precept, here a little, and there a little. Give minds time
to digest the truths you feed them. Children must be drawn
toward heaven, not rashly, but very gently.
This article is excerpted from the book The Voice in Speech and
Song, pp 254-256, by Ellen G. White.