What I Missed About Prayer

In my “Neurotic’s Guide to Prayer,” I’ve compared public prayer to getting naked at the YMCA, complained about guitar players in prayer circles, and opened a window to my scatterbrained devotions. In this last post in the series, it’s time to pick up my towel and cover my shame. I also want to pick up a thread that was hopefully running through my posts–prayer doesn’t all depend on you.

I already said that most everybody feels just as nervous about public prayer as I do. I didn’t realize this because of some Sherlock Holmes deduction. I was at a prayer group recently with some other guys. One of them, Evan, had just become a Christian that past year. He was still learning the eccentricities of the faith that I didn’t even realize were eccentricities. He would ask what “quiet time” was, and what we meant by controlling our “thought lives.” Continue reading “What I Missed About Prayer”

Quiet Time: A Running Diary

My last couple posts have been about public prayer. It’s easy to see why my fellow neurotics feel self-conscious praying in front of other people–it doesn’t take much imagination to assume everyone is scrutinizing us.

But that doesn’t explain why I feel self-conscious about quiet time.

For those not in the know, “quiet time” is just daily Bible-reading and private prayer. Because there aren’t other people around, you’d think I’d be able to pray in peace.

I can’t. I’m really bad at it.

Continue reading “Quiet Time: A Running Diary”

The Essential Guide to Praying in a Circle

JOHN LOCHER/REVIEW-JOURNAL UNLV football players hold hands during a prayer circle after practice in Ely Nev. Aug. 13, 2007.

Last post, I shared one of my many embarrassing prayer stories. It was basically an example of what not to do. Today, I want to be more helpful. I’ll give you a step-by-step guide to the most important type of public prayer: the group circle.



The hallmark of prayer circles is informality. A group of people–usually guys–gather around and pray before an event. This informality causes the awkwardness. Prayer circles can splinter any number of directions, depending on who’s in charge and what method they’re using.

I’ve assembled a list of simple rules for dealing with each of these methods. Continue reading “The Essential Guide to Praying in a Circle”

How to Impress Girls by Praying Around a Campfire

In my last post, I tried opening my prayer series with encouragement. Even though public prayer is intimidating, we’re all in this together. But even if most of us feel nervous, there are still stakes–especially if you’re a dude in your teens or twenties. If you want to impress that girl at your youth group, public prayer may be an essential skill.

For evangelicals, public, spontaneous prayer is our gauge of each other’s religious virility. Prayer not only shows our passion for God, but also our willingness to be a “leader of our generation.” It’s an essential skill for any mega-church pastor.

It’s also a good way for teenage boys to impress girls. Continue reading “How to Impress Girls by Praying Around a Campfire”

Why Public Prayer Is Like a YMCA Locker Room

locker_room_google_0151I’m bad at prayer.

This sounds like an intimate confession, but it’s not. You probably feel the same anxieties I do—especially when praying in front of other people. That’s why I’m starting this short series on prayer.

When my Bible study leader asks for volunteers to pray, the signs of prayer fright are everywhere. The stifled gulps, the averted eyes, the tensed posture.

And it’s not just at Bible studies. Prayer fright can happen anywhere:

Continue reading “Why Public Prayer Is Like a YMCA Locker Room”