Is it not dishonoring to the Lord for a brother to pray publicly with a hand in his pocket?

Is it not dishonoring to the Lord for a brother to pray publicly with a hand in his pocket?

Some may wonder if this question is the kind that should be answered in a forum like this. It is taking place when the eyes of all should be closed. The man praying may be completely unconscious he is doing this. Even if he is conscious of this, he may not regard it as dishonoring to the Lord.

Some relevant Biblical principles may, however, merit mention here. First, as a suggestion to listeners, we know that God has given instruction as to the content of public prayer (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Therefore, observers should be concerned, as God is, with the content of a brother’s prayers. Since the Scriptures anticipate that believers will say "Amen" when a brother prays (1 Corinthians 14:14-16), believers should listen carefully to what is said so they can affirm their fellowship with each of the brother’s petitions. Individuals assumed various postures in prayer. The Lord fell on His face (Mat 26:39), Paul kneeled (Acts 20:36), and the publican stood with his hands smiting his chest (Luke 18:13). Our posture in prayer conveys a message of intensity or submission or respect, but the message in the words is of greater importance. Some find it very difficult to speak publicly and we could well overlook their nervous habits for the joy of hearing them leading us in prayer.

On the other hand, the reminder of some principles could help those of us who pray publicly. Bible characters who were conscious of God’s presence were overwhelmed (Isa 6:5; Luke 5:8; Rev 1:17). Speaking to God is of far greater moment than speaking in the presence of fellowmen (Eccl 5:2), therefore focus on Him rather than them. A greater familiarity with the Lord in private prayer would deliver us from filling the time with well-worn sayings and whatever thoughts come to mind. If prayer grows out of a relationship to our Father (Luke 11:2), consciously speaking to a Father Whom we know will keep us from senseless repetition of "Father," "our God and Father," "our God," and "Lord." Knowing that He is omniscient and is completely aware of our hearts and thoughts (1Ki 8:39) might prevent us from posturing in prayer or stretching out our prayers when we have little to say.

Most of all, the purpose of responding to this question is not to foster criticism of public prayers, but to encourage all of us to a greater appreciation of moving and speaking in the presence of "the great God." Let all who can respond to the privilege of praying publicly do so, but ever aim for deeper acquaintance with our Father, more genuine awe of His presence, and greater power with God in prayer.

D. Oliver