Many years ago I was convicted by the Spirit that I sometimes “pray to impress” during worship services. I committed my praying to God and pledged to seek only His glory and approval. I recently came across this nugget of truth that reminded be of both the dangers and my pledge:
“Preaching which kills is prayerless preaching. Without prayer the preacher creates death, and not life. The preacher who is feeble in prayer is feeble in life-giving forces. The preacher who has retired prayer as a conspicuous and largely prevailing element in his own character has shorn his preaching of its distinctive life-giving power. Professional praying there is and will be, but professional praying helps the preaching to its deadly work. Professional praying chills and kills both preaching and praying. Much of the lax devotion and lazy, irreverent attitudes in congregational praying are attributable to professional praying in the pulpit. Long, discursive, dry, and inane are the prayers in many pulpits. Without unction or heart, they fall like a killing frost on all the graces of worship. Death-dealing prayers they are. Every vestige of devotion has perished under their breath. The deader they are the longer they grow. A plea for short praying, live praying, real heart praying, praying by the Holy Spirit—direct, specific, ardent, simple, unctuous in the pulpit—is in order.” (Bounds, 2011, l. 276)
Better a short prayer with the power of life therein than a long prayer that neither glorifies God or blesses men.
Bounds, E. M. (2011-11-11). The Complete Collection of E. M. Bounds on Prayer (Kindle Locations 276-284). . Kindle Edition.