How do I get over my fear of praying in front of others?
Prayer is intimate. It feels like something that is very personal. Praying with others invites them into that intimate space where you communicate with God. It leaves us vulnerable.
But praying with others out loud not only connects us with God but connects us with our neighbor as well. When we pray out loud for and with others we open our hearts and share our souls in a way that reflects the glory of God.
How to Pray Out Loud
These are not exclusive steps and this doesn’t need to be a linear process but these are what worked for me so that I got over the idea of praying out loud. I still get nervous praying in front of others. I wonder if I’m doing it right even though I know God’s grace covers anything I might say or do when I pray. But I’m also excited about what God will do in that moment. I know that prayer is not about me or my words but about the connection that whoever I’m praying for or with has with God. Praying with others is a privilege and an awe inspiring exercise of grace.
Step 1: Practice Privately
You don’t go from never praying out loud to praying in front of hundreds of people. I take that back. You can but I don’t recommend it. It would cause too much anxiety. Instead find a spot where you’ve heard from God before. For me that typically involves praying near water – a lake, stream, creek, or if I’m lucky …a beach. But it could also be a quiet but comfortable place in your home or at your church. Get comfortable. Take a few deep breaths. And speak from your heart. Repeat this daily for a few days before you move onto step 2.
Step 2: Practice in a small group
For me this was the most important step. When I was taking my first long term Bible Study (Disciple 1), the facilitator of the group told us on our first meeting that we would each be taking turns opening and closing us with prayer. She pointed out that all of us were inexperienced at leading prayer (none of us were clergy at the time) and that this was a safe place to “practice.” Her saying that took away 75% of my anxiety. She gave us permission to try and to learn. It was a gift. That didn’t take ALL the anxiety away. The rest fell away over time as I practiced and as I heard other people fumble as they practiced. If you don’t have a group like this, form one. Most people don’t know how to pray out loud and would support your effort to improve this spiritual discipline.
Step 3: Keep a Prayer Journal
There are two reasons to keep a prayer journal. The first one is that if you keep a journal you can see how God answers prayer if you forget what you prayed for three months ago. The second is that it helps you to think about what you might lift up in a prayer with others before you are called to pray in front of a group. If there is a possibility that you might have the opportunity to pray out loud in the future, journal an outline of a prayer before hand. It will help you when you pray later.
Step 4: Habitize
When you make a habit out of a spiritual discipline, you have habitized that discipline. Prayer is a life long spiritual discipline. It isn’t something to be done only at church. Continue practicing and you will get better. Make it a habit and your life will be richer for it.
In a time where we are practicing social distancing, prayer might be the most healthy, intimate, and loving gesture you can share with a friend. Praying for all of you!
Until Everyone Hears,
P.S. – In case you missed the first two posts, you can get the first post. “Prayer Basics” and second, “Why should we pray” by clicking on the links.
P.P.S. – If you have any prayer requests for me over the weekend, feel free to reach out to message me through my profile or social media accounts.
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