I’ve written here before about my fear of being asked to pray out loud in a group.
I identified 3 things that I felt were holding me back:
- I have a really hard time “switching on a dime” from worldly interaction mode into a prayerful mode…
- I feel like the way I pray isn’t good enough to share with other people…
- I feel like my prayers are really lame and might even sound disrespectful to other people.
So here’s what I’m doing to overcome these worries, just in case maybe I’m not the only person who feels that way. Not that my way is necessarily going to be the right way for everyone else, but maybe it will spark your imagination for things that you could do that would help you overcome whatever might be hard for you about praying out loud.
- Don’t feel like you have to start speaking the very moment you are called upon to pray. It is perfectly fine, and in fact worth practicing in advance, to stop for a moment, quiet your mind, take a breath, and then …
- Quietly ask the Holy Spirit for help finding the words you are about to speak before you begin praying.
- If you’ve always had a kind of casual “best-friend” kind of prayer relationship with God (as I have), practice addressing Him in a more formal way which you can use when others are included in your prayer. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it helps others feel more confident. I save my, “Good morning God!” greetings for my private conversations with Him. But there is nothing wrong – and I don’t think its phony or hypocritical – to practice also starting some prayers addressing Him more formally as, “Heavenly Father.” It will help you feel more confident praying in front of a group and it will make them feel more comfortable too.
- You can practice praying out loud when you are by yourself. Get used to the sound of your own voice speaking to God. It can seem a little strange if you’ve always prayed silently when you pray alone.
- Keep it short. Jesus Himself recommended keeping prayers short & to the point (Matthew 6:7).
- Remember to praise God first thing.
- Let the Holy Spirit guide you, and be open to His direction.
- Keep your prayer on topic and your requests Biblical, to avoid praying on behalf of the group for things not everyone in the group may agree with like victories for particular political candidates, etc. You can pray for those things when you’re just having a personal 1:1 conversation with God.
- Look forward to an opportunity to pray for the group, and when you’re ready volunteer. That’s a lot better than dreading it and trying to make yourself invisible so nobody calls on you.