Have you ever been in a Bible study or small group with a communal prayer time, and your palms started to sweat? You dreaded being called on to pray. You definitely didn’t volunteer. Knowing what to say and how to say it is far too intimidating!
Praying out loud—and praying in general—does not have to be a nerve-wracking experience. Prayer is an essential practice of the Christian faith, and communal prayer is one of the most powerful ways we connect with fellow believers and with God. Gaining comfort and confidence in your prayer life is a huge part of spiritual maturity.
But where do you start? As a former “nervous prayer” myself, I’m sharing a few things to help you in your prayer journey, specifically when it comes to praying out loud.
Write out your prayers
A great way to practice praying is to write out your prayers. If you aren’t sure what to say, this can be a way to get your thoughts out in a cohesive manner. Remember, though, that God doesn’t care HOW you pray so much as that you DO pray. He is a kind and loving God who longs to communicate with His children. We owe Him reverence for His holiness, but His love is who He is.
I like to write out my prayers after doing my Bible reading.
God is okay with one-liners
In addition to writing out your prayers, begin to make a habit of praying throughout the day. Let go of the idea that you need 15 minutes to pray. Realistically, how often do you spend that whole time praying? Instead, spend time on short, one-sentence prayers. God is not condemning this! It is humans who create rules for prayer and guilt when you don’t do it “right.”
I’ll often pray short prayers when a friend pops into my head. I’ll pray about a worry I have while I’m working. I pray a LOT while driving!
Designate certain days for certain prayer topics
If you struggle with too many requests and too little time, here’s an idea: Designate prayer to certain days of the week. For instance, pray about your city on Monday, your friends on Tuesday, your family on Wednesday and so on.
You can also do what a friend recommended to me: Write all your requests on strips of paper and put them in a jar. Pray over whatever one you pull out that day.
Pray out loud in private
Getting confident praying out loud requires letting go of people’s opinions. When you pray, it’s about you and God. Nobody else. Don’t worry what the people around you think or if their prayer is “fancier” than yours. God is pleased by your heart. Jesus Himself talked about this:
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 5:5-7)
This is not to say that your friends who pray elaborate prayers are “hypocrites”! But Jesus is saying that your HEART is what matters. God sees your heart, in private and in public. This is the basis of heartfelt prayer.
Practice praying out loud in your car and your room. When you join a group setting, start by praying short, one-sentence prayers. It is encouraging to the whole body to hear you pray! It’s part of encouraging fellow believers and growing in faith.
For more on prayer, check out Val Woerner. She has an excellent prayer journal I use for my own study!