What’s the first emotion that comes to the surface when you hear these words? Come on, be honest.
For some, like my friend Lesa, prayers roll off their tongue so eloquently that you’re certain if you were to open your eyes during their prayer they will have sprouted angel-tipped wings. The words flow naturally and authentically.
And then, there are people like me (and maybe you?) who are just as passionate about prayer, but find the distance between what we want to say and what is actually said to be further than we realized.
The good news, of course, is that God honors both. It’s the heart He’s listening to — the true motives and desires that lie beneath every spoken word. Whether the words flow or stumble from our lips makes no difference to Him. But I do believe it makes a difference for some of us, unfortunately.
Teach a class for any length of time and you’ll soon realize just how uncomfortable praying aloud is for many people. Because of my own past experience, I choose to make it known in every class that people will never be called on to pray or read aloud, although they are encouraged to do both. I’ve had many people tell me over the years this one factor immediately put them at ease. I’m glad to hear it — but as I shared in our last “Women in the Word” study last Tuesday, we need to push ourselves out of that comfort zone at some point.
Why? I believe it’s yet another spiritual discipline that God can use when (not if) we are in a situation where someone needs prayer on the spot. What are we to do if we don’t feel comfortable praying aloud for them and with them? It is our responsibility (and privilege!) to be prepared for every opportunity.
I am still learning and growing in this area, but here are a few “tools” that continue to help me step out of my praying-aloud comfort zone:
- pray aloud during your quiet time. This has been the single most helpful thing I’ve done over the years.
- drop the “traditions” and pray in a way that keeps you best focused. I don’t know of any scripture that says our eyes must be closed when we pray. I understand how this would help most people focus, but it makes me dizzy. I always pray aloud with eyes open during my quiet time — but I still struggle to do this elsewhere. Yet another comfort zone to conquer.
- practice! The more often we pray aloud in our quiet time and with others, the easier it will become. Drop the pride, don’t worry about the flow of the words, and simply speak as if your best friend is sitting alongside you… because He is. 🙂
In the end, it always comes down to humbling ourselves before the Lord, doesn’t it?
It’s not about us. It is all about Him… and for Him. So…
____________________, would you please close us in prayer?