Even when no one else is around, words spoken out loud to God are powerful.
Posted in , Apr 1, 2019
There’s nothing wrong with silent prayer. On the contrary, the Bible depicts Hannah being judged by others (a priest, no less) as she prayed silently—but her prayer was heard and answered by God (see 1 Samuel 1). Still, there are some good reasons to pray aloud, even when no one but God is around to hear you.
Maybe, like me, you’ve nodded off while praying silently. Maybe (again like me) you even prefer to end your day by climbing into bed and praying until you fall asleep. But I don’t believe I’ve ever succumbed to sleep while praying aloud. Like David, who wrote, “I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy” (Psalm 142:1, NIV), I find that praying aloud focuses my mind and heart on what I’m saying, and my voice reinforces my thoughts while also preventing distraction.
Asaph urged God’s people to “Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob!” (Psalm 81:1, NIV). Some thoughts and emotions are almost antithetical to silent prayer; they must be spoken, even shouted. Joy, rage, confession and confusion are expressed and emphasized best, I think, when the vocal chords and tongue join with mind and heart in the act of prayer.
I remember some of the things I pray silently, but I recall far more of what I pray aloud. It’s simple math: thought + word = more memorable. And writing a prayer as I’m speaking it often adds more action to the equation, particularly when I’m praying for the needs of others. It’s easier to remember to pray for someone when I’ve already prayed aloud for that particular need.
I was once so overcome with disappointment and discouragement that I lay on the floor of my home office, face down, and prayed aloud for more than 30 minutes, “My help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (based on Psalm 124:8). I prayed those words aloud, over and over, sometimes softly and sometimes loudly, until I found myself believing them. Praying aloud—especially when combined with praying Scripture—can revive and increase the faith of the person who is praying.
David sang, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.” He said God’s hand was heavy on him, and “my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3, 4, NIV). It’s not healthy to hold in our emotions, and sometimes silent prayer just doesn’t give full expression to the things we’re feeling. Praying aloud can relieve our burdens and release our emotions in healthy ways.
Why not try it? If you’re accustomed to praying silently, it may take some effort—but praying aloud even when you’re alone might also be just what your heart, mind and soul need.