Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference. – Max Lucado
Praying aloud can be difficult, I agreed with my youngest son. That is why it takes practice. The weird thing is that we feel judged by those who hear us while forgetting that we aren’t talking to them. The One we are talking to is taking in every word with delight.
It was one of those in-the-car, early morning times that is made for boys to open up to their moms. No matter how often I asked if he wanted to pray for his day, he said no. Finally I decided to push a little bit.
“Why don’t you want to pray aloud?” I asked.
That is when he said he isn’t comfortable praying aloud. How many of us feel that way? Maybe it feels like it should be a private conversation. Maybe it feels like our words aren’t fancy enough, or spiritual enough.
My dad, who has been in the ministry for much of his life, would get discouraged when “prayer meetings” (such a lovely Christianese phrase!) were sparsely attended. For a man who could pray long, heartfelt prayers, it didn’t make sense.
I was pretty intimidated to pray in front of him, to be honest. My dad knows how to talk to Jesus! In private or public, doesn’t matter. I remember waking up early and finding him at our dining table, head bowed over his Bible, pouring his heart out to the Lord. He spoke aloud to Him, although it wasn’t loud.
I get it, though. I’ve certainly stumbled my way through my share of public prayers. I’ve cried through many – my heart so full of pain over the issue I was struggling with that I couldn’t vocalize it. Sometimes the words just wouldn’t come.
The Word is clear that the Lord longs for us to come together as a community to voice our prayers and lift up our hearts to Him.
Matthew 18:19-20: I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
James 5:14-15: Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord.
Acts 1:14: All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
2 Chron. 20:3-4: Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.
So I told my son that, while I understood his reluctance, I encouraged him to speak his prayers anyway. The growth in our spiritual disciplines comes when we practice them. When we persevere in them in spite of our feelings, in spite of our hesitancy.
After years of praying aloud in Bible studies and in Moms in Prayer groups, it doesn’t bother me anymore. Even those days when I cry through my prayers! Even those days when I don’t know what to say.
Romans 8:26: Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings to deep for words.