Child-Friendly Prayer Meetings

Testimony On Meaningful Prayer Meetings

Mrs. White was asked regarding social meetings and responded with a lengthy testimony that is highly instructive.

Make Prayer Meeting Something Of Highest Interest To The Children

It should be a study with parents to make the social meeting of the highest interest to the children, that they may receive proper impressions as to what constitutes a Christian character. How can we expect children to feel a solemn interest when long prayers are offered so low and indistinct that it is impossible to catch a word only now and then? If these praying ones had a new heart and a new spirit put within them, would they not manifest some earnestness in their prayers? Would they not touch the hearts even of children? Prayers in social meetings should be short and right to the point. Do not feel it your duty to tell long stories to the Lord, or to preach him a long sermon. Come at once to the point. Thank God for his mercies, confess your sins, ask his pardon, and believe that he will hear and answer your petitions. – {RH April 14, 1885 Par. 8}

Has the Lord been an honored guest in our prayer meetings? Why do we not, as sensible men and women, consider for ourselves what God requires of us individually in every meeting we attend? Have we devoted many moments to prayer, to close, earnest study concerning the very best course we can pursue as children of God to add such interest and earnestness and life to our meetings that our children shall love to attend them? Do we consider how much we dishonor God by our complaining testimonies, by relating our trials, temptations, backslidings, and our griefs? Do we realize how we carry a dark cloud with us, and shadow the pathway of others by such a course? We are bodies of darkness because our eye is not single. If the eye were single the clouds upon which we gaze, and of which we talk so much, would disappear; we should see a precious, loving, compassionate Redeemer, and catch the light from his countenance. We should be cheerful; heavenly peace would reign in our hearts, not inclosed as perfume in a bottle, but like the offering of Mary to Jesus, filling the house with its sweet fragrance. Peace would be in our homes; for wherever the love of Jesus reigns, there peace abides: and there will be also joy; for there is a holy calm and heavenly trust in God. – {RH April 14, 1885 Par. 11}

Cold, Lifeless Prayer Meetings Are Dreaded By Children

Many prayers and testimonies are as destitute of the Spirit of God as a dry sponge is of moisture; for there is no Jesus abiding in the heart. This makes the prayer-meeting cold and lifeless, and it is no wonder that children dread such seasons. Bring no dull, complaining spirit into the prayer-meeting. Do not compare notes to see how sorrowful a story you can tell. There is enough to talk about without raising one doleful strain. When we are willing to come as little children, conscious of our own weakness, and willing to be instructed by the Divine Teachers, our hearts will be filled with the love of Jesus, and we shall long to speak of his matchless worth. We shall cease to talk of self. Our trials will look so small that we shall forget to mention them. We have many blessings. Let us cultivate gratitude, and talk of the goodness of God. {ST December 4, 1884, par. 8}

Keep Prayers Short

The meeting should open at the appointed hour if possible, be there few or many present. Formality and cold stiffness should be laid aside, and all should be prompt to duty. Upon common occasions there should not be prayer of more than ten minutes’ duration. After there has been a change of position, and the exercise of singing or exhortation has relieved the sameness, then, if any feel the burden of prayer, let them pray. { 2T 577.3} 
All should feel it a Christian duty to pray short. Tell the Lord just what you want, without going all over the world. In private prayer all have the privilege of praying as long as they desire and of being as explicit as they please. They can pray for all their relatives and friends. The closet is the place to tell all their private difficulties, and trials, and temptations. A common meeting to worship God is not the place to open the privacies of the heart. { 2T 578.1}

Keep Your Prayer Simple, Using Simple Language

When approaching God, pray briefly, in simplicity. Do not dishonor God by your oratorical prayers or by preaching the Lord a sermon in your prayers; but come to God in your soul need, and just tell Him what you want, as a child comes to an earthly parent; and trust your heavenly Father as a child trusts its earthly parent. {Ms39-1887} 
When the meeting is carried on in the absence of a minister, let one take the lead, but not devote long time to sermonizing. Just speak the words in the Spirit and in the love of Jesus, and thus set an example for others, that no one shall talk words for the sake of talking and killing the time. Let each work a part in diligently presenting the experience of the soul. Let them state their own individual experience, their own soul struggles, the victories obtained. Above everything, let them offer to God a tribute of praise from a thankful heart that Jesus has died for them. Here is subject matter that each may dwell upon with profit. It is the duty of all to feel that they must contribute a part to the life and soul of the meeting. Do this, and the blessing of God will come into your midst in large measure. {Ms39-1887}

Speak In Clear Tones, Loud Enough For All To Hear

When you speak or pray, make an effort to speak in clear tones, loud enough to be heard by all. You do not address your family in a whisper, but in a cheerful, pleasant, audible voice; why not let the same distinct and agreeable tones be heard in the prayer-meeting? If you have never learned to talk aloud when speaking of Jesus, let this be one of your first lessons. If you have been in the habit of praying so that no one present could understand what you said, reserve all such whispered prayers for the closet. How can the prayer-meeting be made interesting, when the prayers offered and the testimonies borne are spoken in so low a tone that only an occasional word can be heard? Who can respond “Amen”? Who can be benefited by such testimonies, however good and fitting they may be in themselves? Who can know how to speak words of comfort and encouragement, or to help those who need help? {ST December 4, 1884, par. 7}

Do Not Censure Or Condemn One Another In Prayer Meeting

Our meetings for worship should be sacred, precious occasions. The prayer meeting is not a place where brethren are to censure and condemn one another, where there are to be unkind feelings and hard speeches. Christ will be driven from the assemblies where this spirit is manifested, and Satan will come in to take the lead. Nothing that savors of an unchristian, unloving spirit should be permitted to enter; for do we not assemble to seek mercy and forgiveness from the Lord? and the Saviour has plainly said: “With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Who can stand before God and plead a faultless character, a blameless life? And how, then, dare any criticize and condemn their brethren? … {5T 607.3}