Thoughts and insights from author Jennifer Kennedy Dean

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Afraid to pray out loud?

Many, many people have a great fear of praying out loud. You, too? Common, common issue. Let's talk about it. Here is an email I recieved recently, and with permission, I am sharing it with you. If you are struggling with the same fear, let's walk this out together. Have you conquered that fear? Share some insight. Have some encouragement? Share it. Are you a leader who needs to understand that many in your group have this fear? In fact, there are many people who will not attend events for fear they may be called on to pray aloud. Here is Karen's email:

I have been a Christian all my life. My family attends a Lutheran church and I attend a weekly Bible study class at a very large church which is an Evang.-Free. (In fact they are doing your "Live A Praying Life" study this fall). I have what I perceive as a BIG stumbling block. Even though I am a strong believer and Jesus is an integral part of who I am, I cannot pray outloud (and have a really hard time even putting my thoughts in words to pray it silently). When the Bible study ends they do open prayer or go around the circle and everyone (except me) adds on to it. I panic. The other attenders are very supportive and say it will come with practice. They encourage me to just say what is in my heart. I have even asked God to help me but nothing comes--is like a break in the connection between my heart and my spoken word. I am almost afraid to do your study this fall but I am signing up for it anyway. (I imagine since the subject is prayer, the group will do alot of praying outloud). (What is really ironic is my son is in Sheila Walsh's new book "Get Off Your Knees and Pray."). He is 24 and has Down syndrome and even though he doesn't pray in formal prayers, he talks to God all the time (and angels). He has extremely severe sleep apnea and 2 years ago the drs. told me that medically speaking, he should be dead but that God must have a special mission for him that has not been completed yet. I feel a oneness with God in my soul and inner self but can't seem to get it out to pray in words. What is wrong with me? It seems everyone can pray outloud but me. Do you think I should take your course or will I stick out? Thank you so much for reading this.

OK. What do you have to say to Karen? Use the comments link. In a few days, I will post some of my responses. You're smarter than I am! What do you have to say?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We took Jennifer's course last year. It was soooo good. So many of us have trouble articulating our words of praise and faith to the Lord and the enemy wants us to feel inadequate.
When I first learned to pray, I learned a formulaic method based on the Lord's Prayer. It was very helpful, as a new Christian, to have some guidelines and our God is faithful to provide us with everything we need. Now many years later, myself and others in our small group can still stumble over our words and forget to say stuff we really wanted to. One of my dear friends has difficulty praying out load, but can write the most beautiful prayers and does so in encouraging emails to many. That's her style. Maybe writing a beautiful prayer would work for you. The moment we are "put on the spot" to pray out-loud, inwardly we seize up..."Oh no, now I have to say something....Help!". Depending on how your group handles prayer, sometimes just one sentence (or shorter) prayers can be easier to handle. It's always so easy if you start with PRAISE. God is so good and his love and kindness touches us each day. I don't have all the answers, but He does. Focus on God, focus on His goodness, just let praises for Him flow from your heart and soon they will be overflowing out of your mouth. Sing your praises if that is more your style. God inhabits the praises of His people. What could be more appropriate. God is open to all your expressions of love and faith.

August 18, 2008 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger ellen.lily said...

I have been praying out loud for about 25 years, and I still stumble. Sometimes my words don't flow so well, other times I'm not sure what I'm praying out loud makes any sense to others, though no one has EVER said so. Thankfully! But God knows what I'm saying, and fellow Christians are very accepting of my awkward praying ways. I would encourage you to just do it. Let the fear come, and it will also go. Start with small, one sentence prayers, and add to them as you become more comfortable. Once you've started, it will get easier and easier.

August 18, 2008 at 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Sue said...

Karen, I appreciate your concern and can relate to it very well. Many years ago when I was first called on to pray in my Sunday school class, I was so nervous, that to this day, I don't know what I prayed. I've found that practice helps, and I began by praying aloud each morning before I got out of bed. I prayed aloud each night before I went to sleep. I agree that beginning with one-sentence prayers of praise is a great beginning. God knows what's in our hearts, but He truly wants to hear us speak it to Him. Just focus on Him...that audience of One...and not on others. He loves to hear us pray His Word back to Him. Begin by quoting a special scripture to Him. And...remember....He picks us up when we stumble! Best blessings!

August 18, 2008 at 8:12 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Such an honest question......shared by many! A few things that may make a difference: 1) In your quiet time when you are all alone, pray out loud. Pray all kinds of prayers one will hear you. Pray scripture...pray your heart....pray from books of written prayers. Do this every day and your level of comfort will change. 2) Talk with God about it...tell Him just what you wrote in your letter and ask Him for help. 3) the scriptures are invaluable for finding words of praise. Write out a scripture of praise to the Lord on an index card and have it in your Bible, when it is prayer it outloud for your prayer. For example: Psalm 146:1 or Psalm 108:1. 4) As one of the women prays aloud, focus completely on her prayer without thinking of what you would pray...when she ends, simply say aloud "I agree, Lord." 5) Try singing a praise chorus for your outloud prayer. One such as "I love You, Lord, and I lift my voice...." or "Father I Adore You...." get the idea. You may find that other women even join you! 6) The above are just suggestions...God sees your heart and your sweet spirit that comes through in your letter. My advice: don't let anything keep you from going to the Bible Study! May God richly bless you!

August 18, 2008 at 10:55 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Karen, I can relate to your situation on so many levels. I also have a daughter with Down's Syndrome and have struggled with, no, been downright scared of praying out loud.

Several years ago at a lunch with a small group I was asked to say grace. I passed and was so ashamed of myself; I went home and begged God to teach me how to pray. A couple months later I began Jennifer's Living a Praying Life study. I would encourage you to participate. This time spent developing a deeper relationship with God through prayer changed my life. Several things helped:

- Nerves or not, I decided to be someone different and take that first step - or say that first word. I was with a group of strangers who didn't know I was afraid to pray. Strangers don't usually feel safe when I feel vulnerable, but in this case it helped.

- At the end of the of each session we divided into groups of three with definite items to pray about, typed and distributed by our leader. Each woman prayed for the woman to her right (or left). There was no struggling with what to pray. This prayer time was short so short prayers were acceptable.

- I learned that after taking the first step, the Spirit is always there to give me words to say just as promised in the Bible. Believe in His work, not your ability to put words together.

As I said, this study changed my life. Involved in a hurtful situation, the Lord delivered me as I turned more and more to prayer. I saw His hand at work in powerful ways. Living A Prayer Life will always hold a special place in my heart!

Above all, Karen, remember that praying out loud is not a requirement to be a follower of Jesus. We are all created with unique personalities, gifts, and talents. Some pray, some sing in public (not me I guarantee you), some dance. I feel quite sure you are a unique and special person, with or without oral prayers!

August 19, 2008 at 6:56 AM  
Anonymous Tammy Price said...

I too was unable to pray aloud, even if my own bedroom with my husband at night. Now knowing the GREAT POWER OF UNITED PRAYER, especially of confessing aloud with your mouth God's promises, I can see why the enemy tries to keep us quiet, especially when we can agree with other believers in prayer.
As I struggled to pray aloud, this gave me a desire to learn about prayer, so on our belated honeymoon God answered my prayers, and opened my mouth by what I learned at Billy Grahams the "Cove" in a prayer session.
They suggested that I FIRST WRITE down my prayer to God, as talking to Him in a letter-then to just read it aloud by the Holy Spirit's help. I had been relying upon my flesh and allowing the devil to keep my mouth shut by thinking my prayers needed to be as impressive as those who had been at it for years. I really had been focusing on the people present, and not enough on God's Presence, and His desire to help me.
I did this in front of these ladies at the Cove, and then continued to do this in private. Soon I was able to pray with my husband aloud, and then with others in public.
I cried the first times, and felt very nervous-but I ignored my feelings and did it anyway.HE even continues to amaze me, as last year during a Radio interview I was asked to pray aloud for the listening audience of over 500,000! I CRIED and praised God for a long time after that interview-that I "gave Him" my weakness, HE brought teaching, training and power; and relying upon Him He used the very area of my struggle for His glory!
Remember, God will eventually take the weakness, make it a strength when surrendered to Him and FAITH doesn't always mean the absence of fear, but doing it anyway-knowing the when you're obeying God's will, He will provide the desire and the ability to PLEASE HIM!
I commend you for signing up and going in spite of your fears! God will bless your acts of faith and use them for His glory!
ANOTHER GREAT HELP is to take Scripture Prayers and pray them aloud in your private quiet time; this molds your mind and heart to His-allowing you to pray with faith. What is in your heart will flow out of your mouth, and using Scripture to mold your prayers gives you THE BEST template to use to speak aloud. And His Word does not return to Him void! It has power and purpose!
My "needing" to write out my prayers, and turning to His Word eventually turned into 3 books on prayer and a Prayer Ministry! (THANK YOU JENNIFER for your endorsement and prayers for my 3rd book!)
Funny that I couldn't open my mouth, and now the devil can't shut me up!
Also, in your private prayer times continue to get hold of any of Jennifer's teachings that you can-I have grown greatly in my Life of Prayer using her studies in a group and private setting. What we do in Private with the LORD, will flow out into our lives! BLESSINGS TO YOU AS YOU "POUR OUT YOUR HEART TO THE LORD (in prayer), for HE CARES FOR YOU!"
You can download some free Scripture Prayers on my website too, if you'd like to-and check out Hearts of Prayer Army on the web.

August 20, 2008 at 6:56 AM  
Blogger Tammy Price said...

Website address didn't post for free Scripture Prayers, and info on a Book of over 1000 Scripture prayers that Jennifer endorsed as a great resource.

August 20, 2008 at 7:09 AM  
Blogger Beth Misner said...

Here is what I suggest:

First of all, find two or three strong women friends who can pray FOR you as you reach for this.

Next, get used to "praying" out loud by yourself first...start by simply reading the Bible out loud and putting your name or others' names in the verses. (Psalms is a great place to start.) There are great resources out there for "praying the Word of God" and even written prayers such as appear in Prayers that Availeth Much. You can read out loud, I'm thinking! By turning your reading into "prayer", you're on your way to a breakthrough.

Then, find someone to pray with you one-on-one, someone with whom you are comfortable and who has some experience in "emotional healing" prayer. Let that person's prayers wash over you and your heart as you seek God's intervention to loosen your tongue so you can praise God with your lips! Don't try to pray out loud with her, or put that pressure on yourself.

Find other ways to pray out loud through singing, breath prayer (for example, inhale and then exhale while whispering, "I love you, Lord" or a short phrase like that).

Another thing that might encourage you in this breakthrough is for you to journal a prayer and then sit quiety and simply read it out loud.

Karen, I will pray for you, too, that God will bring you into His temple with SHOUTS of praise. This perceived stumbling block that seems so huge to you is a grasshopper to our God! He is more than able to help you work through this and I can tell it's something you desire...I will pray that whatever it is that is holding you back will be loosed in the name of Jesus Christ so that you can join your voice with your friends' and the angels of heaven as together we all declare Worthy is the Lamb!

August 30, 2008 at 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Karen, This is a fear that many Christians have. It is a huge hindrance to the body of Christ. A trick of the enemy. I used to be afraid to pray out loud also. I ushered at a church and every morning we would circle up in the back of the church and someone would be called on to lead us in prayer.

I always dreaded that I would be called on and not know what to say. I finally was called on to lead prayer one morning and declined by saying I was not comfortable praying out loud and they asked someone else. No one criticized me but I sure felt bad.

After serving at this church for 5 years, God released me to join another church that was in my home community. I thought I'll sit out for a while and just get fed the word and seek God for where he would have me to serve in this church. One of the places that God lead me to serve in was the Prayer Ministry.

My first meeting with the Prayer Leader and members I was called on to pray and I did and I was nervous but the Holy Spirt led that prayer I know! That broke me out of the fear and I continue to serve on the prayer ministry. As a matter fact I am now the Prayer Leader and have been for the past four years. I have been serving on the Prayer Ministry for 9 years altogether!

God is so amazing and the Holy Spirit is our teacher. The acronym for FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. The best advice I can give is ask God where this fear comes from and ask Him to help you overcome it so the enemy no longer has any control over your prayers. We must have personal prayer time with the Lord and we must know how to pray out loud. It is what Christians are called to do. We have to be prepared in season and out of season to advance the kingdom and it comes through prayer.

I will also make a committment to pray for your breakthrough. It would be nice to hear how you are doing and how our comments have helped.


December 29, 2011 at 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have decided it is time for me to get past this inability to speak out loud to God...and it is so helpful to hear that others have had this concern and overcome it! I have always written my prayers and done silent prayers, but have been unable to voice prayer. Even ALONE. If I can't even do it alone, how will I do it in front of others? So, I'm going to try to read my written prayers, then graduate to praying aloud by myself. When that becomes more comfortable and I don't freeze up my thoughts when I open my mouth, I will graduate myself to praying with others. I can recite a prayer out loud (grew up Catholic)but cannot think of what I want to say while I am trying to pray out loud. So, just wanted to say, I am struggling with this too! I will lift you in prayer. I would love to have prayers for my journey to praying out loud as well! Thank you! Tracy

January 2, 2012 at 5:55 PM  
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Anonymous Robben said...

This response blessed me tremendously!! I too am praying about overcoming my fear to pray out loud in front of others.
I do need emotional healing in this area... And I need Gods intervention To loosen my tongue so that I may praise God with my lips!
Your post is confirms what God placed in my heart and gave me clarity on why!!!
Please keep me in your prayers as I pursue my breakthrough in this!!
Be blessed

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