How to make your prayers express emotions, hopes and dreams with passion and variety.
Posted in , Jan 29, 2015
It’s happened to you. Please say it has. Please tell me I’m not the only one.
You’re spending a few moments in prayer. You close your eyes. Scrunch down a little in your seat. Fold your hands. You start praying, silently. And then, before long, without even realizing it, you’re thinking about the comment your coworker made yesterday.
What was that about? Did she realize how it sounded? Does she think I’m stupid? You remember, you’re supposed to be praying. You shake your head. Where was I? Oh yes… You get back on track, but your head sure is heavy. Moments later you open your eyes. Did I just fall asleep?
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the only one who is often distracted, even somnolent, in times of private prayer. If that’s the case, then…well, never mind. But if you’re anything like me, please accept my sympathies–and also consider praying aloud.
That’s right, aloud. In times of personal prayer, when it’s just you and God.
Why would you do that? I can think of four good reasons to pray aloud:
1. Praying aloud helps you focus.
Sure, God hears your silent prayers. He examines your heart; He knows your thoughts no matter where you are (see Psalm 139:1-2). Praying aloud doesn’t affect His hearing, one way or the other. But it does affect your thinking.
It is much easier to stay focused when you pray aloud; the act of speaking aloud helps you stay on track. And, while it is still possible to fall asleep while you’re speaking (my wife does it all the time), it is less likely.
2. Praying aloud helps you express yourself
I don’t know about you, but most of my silent thoughts and prayers have only one volume: Silence. But when I pray aloud, my prayers express my emotions and hopes and dreams with much more passion and variety.
I can’t imagine the prophet Jeremiah praying silently in the prayer session that inspired these words:
I called on your name, Lord,
from deep within the pit.
You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading!
Hear my cry for help!”
Yes, you came when I called;
you told me, “Do not fear.” (Lamentations 3:55-57, NLT)
Sometimes, like the prophet, I call and cry my prayers. Sometimes I whisper, sometimes I “shout unto God with the voice of triumph” (Psalm 47:1, KJV). Sometimes my voice trembles. Sometimes it whines.
3. Praying aloud reinforces your memory.
Why do teachers and preachers often make people say things aloud? Why do we remember songs we sing better than songs we merely hear? Because vocalization reinforces memory. It aids retention.
So it is with praying aloud. I find it much easier to remember things I have prayed aloud–whether confession, thanks, petition or praise–than to remember my silent prayers.
4. Praying aloud combines heart, soul, mind, and body
The greatest commandment, Jesus said, is “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” (Mark 12:30, NLT).
Praying aloud is an act that engages the heart, soul, mind and body. It involves motion and action, if only of the tongue (though if you’re like me, you can’t speak without also moving your arms and hands).
But there are also good reasons to pray aloud. In fact, I’m sure I’ve just scratched the surface. If you’ve been helped by praying aloud please leave a comment that will encourage others. Feel free to add your reasons to the list, as well as any tips you wish to share.