We’ve all been there. We start out praying only to realize that we’ve spent the last fifteen minutes wondering if Lee Harvey Oswald really acted alone.
I’m not talking about group prayer meetings where we each get a chance to be “on stage.” I’m referring to the times when we get alone with God and tell Him what’s on our heart.
Some Christians think of prayer as a silent, boring, and mysteriously telepathic exercise. While God hears everything, even our thoughts, we’re not wired to communicate in this way. If silent prayer isn’t working for you, why not just pray out loud?
I can think of at least 3 reasons to pray out loud. And each one can improve your daily quiet time.
Praying out loud pushes us to find a place of solitude
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. (Matthew 6:6) While Jesus, in Matthew 6:6, is telling us how to avoid pride in our prayer life, it occurs to me that there is another great benefit of getting alone. Sometimes our prayer life is weak or nonexistent because we ignore the pitfalls that lead to distractions. Though privacy isn’t always an option, we should strive to make it our first choice when we can. Seeking the freedom to pray out loud is a good way to choose the best place to meet with God.
If you prefer to have your quiet time in a coffee house or a restaurant and that’s working for you, that’s fine. But if you struggle to pray in those settings, I encourage you to find a better place.
Unless you’re a little weird, you probably don’t want to pray out loud at Starbucks or McDonalds (and nobody else wants you to either). It’s also too easy to be distracted by other conversations or friends. Often times there are newspapers with enticing headlines laying around and, before you know it, you didn’t pray and it’s time to go to work. One key to consistency in your prayer life is to get alone.
But how alone?
An ideal place is one where you can openly talk to God about anything without fear that others might hear you. You don’t have to pray your darkest secrets out loud. I’m just suggesting that you should be able to if you so desire.
If we’re praying for our deepest needs, prayer becomes an intimate act. We should feel the freedom to express our emotions. Being around others can be inhibiting. You’ll feel freer to be a child before your Heavenly Father if you’ll find a place of solitude. If we desire to pray out loud, we’ll be more selective in where we choose to meet with God.
Praying out loud helps us to stay focused
Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18) Some days our mind is like a freeway during rush hour. Thoughts race by on every side. It’s easy for our silent prayers to get car-jacked by rogue thoughts.
On other days we’re hardly present. If we’re not alert, our prayer times can easily become unscheduled naps.
In these situations, it helps to pray out loud. When we speak, our words call us to attention and overrule the disruptive thoughts. And It’s hard to ramble aimlessly without noticing it when we’re praying out loud.
I’ve also noticed that when I’m running late, praying out loud helps me to stay on track and cover more territory in a shorter amount of time.
If your mind is constantly wandering, praying out loud will keep you focused on the conversation you’re having with God.
Praying out loud adds an element of intimacy in our relationship with God
Imagine that you read a travel guide filled with beautiful pictures of the Grand Canyon. Then one day you travel there. Upon arrival you are given two options: You can close your eyes in an attempt to remember the beautiful images from the book. Or you can open your eyes and experience it in real time. Both ways would work. But using your eyes makes more sense.
In the same way, it makes sense to talk to God using words from our mouth. That’s how we typically communicate with someone who is in our midst. Just because God is all-knowing doesn’t mean that we should only pray to Him via our thoughts.
Speaking to Christ in the same way that the disciples did helps us to grow in intimacy with Him. He is a real person and we can know Him. If He doesn’t seem very real to you today, perhaps it would help to interact with Him as though He were in the same room with you. As a matter of fact, He is!
So get alone. Be comfortable. And lift your voice to the God of your creation.
You don’t have to do it this way. And God will still hear your prayers if you don’t. But if you would like to add an element of intimacy to your relationship, talk to God as though you were sharing your heart with the most caring and loving person you’ve ever met. As a matter of fact, you are!