Convicting words from Lee Eclov’s book Pastoral Graces:
Praying publicly is an occupational hazard for pastors because it is so easy to pray on autopilot. We pray so often for the same things that it is hard to be thoughtful and focused. I’ve stood before the church and said, “Let us pray,” bowed my head, and realized in that instant that I had no idea of what we actually needed to say to God. I wonder if such prayers are not a nuisance to God. They call for His attention but then have nothing to say.
It isn’t that we don’t mean what we say, but that what we say doesn’t mean much. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves the way we paste together clichés sometimes. What do we think God will do with those petitions? What’s more, what are we teaching God’s people about how they should pray? We do not have to find stately and lyrical language (though it wouldn’t hurt), but we need to speak to God thoughtfully and reverently.