Praying in public can be scary. Uncomfortable. High pressure…
But as the Dragon Lady discovered, powerful and effective as a living witness both to you yourself and for those around you.
Let’s see what we can learn together about public prayer, and then, maybe give it a try?
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5 Keys to Praying In Public and Staying Panic Free
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes time for praying in public. Things that take the pressure off, whether you’re praying with your life group, the waitress at the restaurant, or anywhere else.
Because we are human, and like to think we’re in control, at least to some measure, we tend to complicate this, or act like more depends on us than really does.
Remember Public Prayer is Still a Conversation with God
Above all, we need to remember whether we are praying in public or having private prayer time, we are having a conversation with God. It’s both an audience with the King of the Universe and a chat with our best friend.
That conversation can be natural and fun, honest and real. He already knows what we’re there to talk about, and has the best plan mapped out. He can handle our emotions and concerns, and he cares about the outcome even more than you do.
Praying in Public isn’t Supposed to be a Show
Do you remember the Pharisee and tax collector (Luke 18:9-14)? The Pharisees in general seemed to pray more for show than anything else. But the tax collector recognized his flaws and failings and asked for mercy. And at a distance at that, Not right up front and loud.
It’s not about who’s watching. We’re not performing here. (Even the pastor at church) Just talking to God. Whether we’re throwing ourselves on the mercy of the King, or singing his praises, or something else, it’s the audience of One that counts. And he doesn’t care if you stutter, or tangle your words, or… he hears your heart. And the Holy Spirit fills in the words (Romans 8:26-27).
Think about when you hear someone else praying in public, in your lifegroup, or wherever. Are you picking apart their prayer, or are you praying agreement with them? Odds are no one is picking apart your public prayer either, and if they are, that’s their problem!
Public Prayer Can Be Silent Prayer
Since it’s not a show, public prayer doesn’t have to be aloud. The knitting group below doesn’t pray out loud in the mall, they are knitting, and praying for the requests silently. The power isn’t in their ‘many words’ but in the fact that they’re caring for one another by interceding for others. I know the passage in Matthew 6 is referring to secret prayer at home, but the same concept applies to ‘secret praying in public’ as far as I can tell. It’s not a show, so silent praying is every bit as effective!
Don’t Forget the “Where Two on Earth Agree” Principle of Public Praying
This assumes we’re praying in his will, but praying in public, with another believer is powerful.
Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.Matthew 18.19 ESV
We’re not rubbing a magic lamp, this isn’t license to get all of our wishes granted. It’s reassurance of God’s grace for our needs, and that he cares for us in great detail.
God Answers Both Private and Public Prayer
We can pray with confidence, whether we’re home alone or praying in public, because God is always with us, and listening to us. If he catches all our tears and sings over his children, then you can bet he’ll answer your prayers. Doesn’t matter if you’re praying in private or praying in public.
The answers vary, based on God’s wisdom and knowledge. Sometimes it is Yes. Sometime’s it’s Not Yet. Sometimes it’s I’ve got something even better in mind. Sometimes it’s No.
If you want to know the answer, you need to listen. Listen through reading scripture, Christian songs, sermons, other believers… Got speaks, if we listen we’ll hear him.
A Story of Praying in Public
This book I have to share with you today, is both hilarious and very serious. Having worked in a church, it’s also very believable. These ladies end up being ‘forced’ to pray in public. It’s silent prayer for the most part, but they get invested in the life of the mall employees, and really have an impact. I just learned there’s to be a sequel, and I CAN’T WAIT!!
About The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady: Public Prayer in Action
A knitting group’s change of scenery changes lives in unexpected ways
Margaret, Rose, Jane, and Fran had a good thing going: meet every week in the quiet of their peaceful chapel and knit prayer shawls. No muss, just ministry. That is, until their pastor boots them out of the church in his last-ditch effort to revive the dwindling congregation.
Uptight Margaret isn’t having it. Knitting prayer shawls where people can watch is the most ridiculous idea she’s ever heard of, and she’s heard plenty. Prayer belongs in the church, not out among the heathen masses. How are they supposed to knit holiness into these shawls if they’re constantly distracted by the public? But with no choice, the others embrace the challenge. They pack their knitting bags and drag Margaret—grumbling the whole way—to the mall with them. She can’t wait to prove them all wrong when it fails miserably, and show the pastor that she always knows best.
Without the familiar mold the group has been stuck in, their own losses, pain, and struggles rise to the surface. And the people and situations they encounter every time they try to sit quietly and knit are taking them a lot further out of their comfort zone than they ever imagined. Can they find the courage to tackle the increasing number of knotty issues they learn about in the community–or will the tangle be too much to unravel?
Sharon J. Mondragon’s debut is warm and delightful, full of real laughter, grief, and personality. It beautifully illustrates the power of women across generations to reach people for Christ.
To read an excerpt of The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady click here.
This book is powerful. I think it beautifully demonstrates the power of prayer in a variety of situations and with many personalities.
I think Father Pete is great. He’s reached a point where there’s nothing to lose in challenging the church’s ‘dragon lady’ because the clock is ticking, and the church is destined to close.
Sending the prayer shawl ladies out to knit in public, as a group is the start of some pretty impressive ripples. It takes time for them to adjust, and I love how the events and the prayers unfold, both in the story, and in each of these 4 ladies lives.
The mall community had no idea what it was in for that holiday season, but man! I loved seeing the growth from week to week, and even the internal battles that each lady had to face.
Having two ‘dragon ladies’ face off, and seeing the hurts and fears that they had in common gives me a good idea of what can happen when we let our fears rule us to the point of micromanagement. I don’t want that, so I have to be very intentional about dealing with each fear as it comes. Taking each one to God, and sitting with him.
I laughed so hard I cried a couple of times, and I may have teared up in empathy a time or three. This book has definitely earned its 5 stars, and I’m probably adding a hard copy to my library soon.
Themes and Topics: smoking/drugs, parenting from fear or control doesn’t work, consequences are real-including prison, cancer/death, effort isn’t always enough, following God’s nudges, getting involved instead of staying in a safe zone, second chances, trusting God.
I received a copy of this book from the Read with Audra book tour, and chose to review it here. All thoughts are my own.
If this sounds good to you, another great book about prayer you will love, is the Prayer Warrior!
About the Author:
Sharon J. Mondragón writes about the place where kindness and courage meet. Her debut novel, The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady (originally titled The Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl Ministry) was the 2017 winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis award in the Short Novel Category, and she has also been recognized by The Saturday Evening Post where her short story, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” was an Honorable Mention Awardee in the 2014 their Great American Fiction Contest.
Mondragón has been active in prayer shawl ministry since 2008 and currently serves as facilitator for the prayer shawl ministry at her church, St. Paul Episcopal in Waxahachie, TX. She also knits with the Circle of Healing at Red Oak United Methodist Church. She is a Level 2 Certified Knitting Instructor through the Craft Yarn Council and teaches beginning knitting at a local yarn store.
Mondragón is the mother of five grown children and has four grandchildren. After 26 years as an Army wife, she has settled in Midlothian, TX with her hero/husband, her laptop, and her yarn stash.