Praying Out Loud Together
Praying out loud in a group can be awkward. It isn’t normal to gather as a group, close our eyes, and talk to someone who isn’t visibly there. On top of the awkwardness, for those who are uncomfortable talking in front of others, group prayer time can cause a great deal of anxiety and stress. On the flip side, for those who are overly comfortable in the spotlight, group prayer time can become a way to make an impression on everyone else in the group.
The awkwardness and the pitfalls can be overcome, however, if we regularly remind ourselves that prayer is essentially a conversation with our loving, caring Father. This takes practice as well as some discomfort, but whatever the obstacles, Christians are clearly commanded to pray (Matthew 6:5-15, 7:7-11, Luke 22:40, 46), and we have clear examples that show we should be praying out loud together (Acts 2:42, 4:24, 13:1-3).
So what does praying out loud together accomplish that each of us praying on our own does not? Here are four ways we can benefit from praying out loud together:
Praying out loud together brings our Father into our fellowship: Nobody likes to be in a situation where everyone is talking around them - always talking about them, but never to them. I imagine that’s how God feels about many of the times we gather as Christians. But by praying out loud together we completely change the character of our gathering. It will always be far more fruitful for us to spend more time talking TO God than talking ABOUT Him.
Praying out loud together helps us bear each others’ burdens: Some of the most encouraging moments in my life have been when a brother or sister stopped what they were doing and took time to pray out loud with me, right when I needed it. Instead of just saying “I’ll pray for you,” our go-to phrase should be “Can I pray with you right now?” Then we can follow up with “And I will keep praying for you.”
Praying out loud together trains us to fight: In Ephesians 6, where we learn about the armor of God, Paul explains that the armor and weapons of our spiritual warfare are wielded through prayer (6:18). Furthermore, every single command in that passage is addressed to the church body as a whole, including the commands to pray. When we pray out loud together, we engage our enemy as a unit, and not alone.
Praying out loud together teaches us to pray: If you think about it, how do we learn how to pray? We learn by hearing others pray. Children who grow up in Christian homes learn by hearing their parents. Those who become Christians later in life learn by hearing their pastor and other Christians. How can we expect anyone to be able to pray if we never model prayer to them? Praying out loud together is essential for Christian discipleship.
Praying out loud together takes practice, and requires effort to work through the discomfort and distractions, but it is unquestionably a habit that will strengthen each of our individual spiritual walks as well as our communal faith.