What’s so hard about praying aloud? Well…it’s Out.Loud. And other people are there. They’re listening, and they all seem to know exactly what to say to God. They know the lingo, they don’t stumble over their words, and they seem to find a way to come up with a beginning, middle, and end on the spot.
It’s like PUBLIC SPEAKING. Worse – it’s IMPROMPTU PUBLIC SPEAKING!
If you are petrified of praying aloud, it’s OK! Many people are. You’re laying your heart to God out in the open for all to see (hear). But can I ask for you to try to do it anyway? Whether it’s with your family, friends, community group, or at a prayer meeting?
Why should you pray corporately?
- It’s Biblical. “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.” (Acts 1:14, NETBible) See also Acts 12. The early church seemed to pray together often. Why? Because they saw their need for prayer. It was right in front of their face in the form of persecution. We don’t see much of a need because we are not threatened with death or prison, but our need is perhaps greater because we are traversing life without praying together (see other points below).
- It breeds unity. When we pray together, we hear each other’s hearts in a way that we wouldn’t hear by “going around the circle.” Hearing one another’s depth of need for God binds us spiritually.
- It encourages other believers. Hearing your own prayer requests prayed over you by a brother or sister in Christ brings peace and confidence in the Lord.
- It disciples those younger in the faith by teaching them how to pray. (Hey – if Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, then we must need to be taught too!)
- I’m sure there are more reasons – if you think of one, add it in the comments below!
So what happens when it’s actually time to pray? Out loud?
It’s OK to talk to God like you talk to a friend. I think praying brings a natural reverance to our tone and demeanor, and that’s OK too! But don’t be intimidated by watching and listening to others pray. Simply be you.
Write something down.
If you feel like you’re in speech and debate class all over again (or that recurring nightmare you have where you forget all of your lines), go ahead and write something down before you pray. Jot a few points down on a scratch piece of paper if it helps you not feel lost when praying out loud. It’s OK to peek at your list!
Break the barrier if needed.
Are you ever praying for so-and-so’s cousin, and you totally blank on their name? I just ask what their name is mid-prayer! Maybe it’s tacky, but I’d rather pray for them by name, so I just pause and say, “Was it Ron?” or something like that. Then, I just carry on.
Praying God’s Word, whether for someone (inserting their name into the verses) or as acknowledgement of who God is, is never a bad idea! In fact, it connects God’s Word to me personally way more than simply reading or studying the Bible. So feel free to crack open the Word and pray straight from it. Then, you always know what to say. 🙂
Accept peace from the Spirit.
If you are feeling very nervous or emotional while praying, it’s OK to acknowledge that you can’t put your thoughts into words. Take heart in this:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings. (Romans 8:26, NETBible)