9 Ways to Get Over the Fear of Praying Out Loud

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of praying out loud with your children:

Prayer is the heart of a relationship with Jesus.  How can there be relationship without communication? If we want our kids to develop a relationship with Him, they have to become comfortable with prayer, and that is much less likely to happen if they only hear prayers in church on Sundays. Praying as a family is critical.

Despite the importance of family prayer, it has been very difficult for me to overcome my fear of praying out loud, even when the “audience” only involves small children and a husband. I know many people have this fear, so today I’m sharing nine things I have found helpful in getting over it. Don’t let your prayer discomfort minimize your opportunity to give your children the life-long gift of a rich prayer life!

1.       Pray out loud when you’re alone.

If no one is around to hear you pray, do you feel comfortable praying out loud in front of yourself? I found one day that I couldn’t even do that! Start praying out loud when you’re alone and you’ll eliminate the surprise of hearing your own voice before you actually pray in front of someone else.

2.       Accept that you don’t have to pray like other people.

I’m not a poetic, beautifully-flowing-praise-language kind of person. The problem is, it seems like everyone I hear praying out loud is. That has developed an expectation in my own mind that prayer needs to sound beautiful. My prayers sound conversational. When I accepted that and no longer tried to pray like other people pray, it became much easier. Pray out loud just like you would pray silently.

3.       Keep your prayers short. Really, it’s OK.

I’ve mentally made it into such an event when I pray out loud that I feel like I really have to go all out and say something big when I do it. When you go long for the sake of going long, however, you end up saying things that are less heartfelt, less natural, and more awkward. Then you don’t want to do it again. Whenever you would normally end a silent prayer, end your verbal prayer.

4.       Try new types of prayer on your own before trying them out loud.

I would like to start praying over my children at night, to give them the blessing of a prayer said just for them. However, I don’t currently pray for them unless there is a specific need, such as healing. The thought of suddenly praying out loud for conceptual things like their spiritual development and discernment is intimidating and keeps me from doing it. I’m going to start praying for them on my own for a while until I feel comfortable enough to pray audibly over them.

5.       Write down what you want to pray about before you pray.

If part of your fear relates to just not knowing what to say, it is immensely helpful to write down a set number of things that you want to pray about before you get started. This works really well when praying out loud with kids, because they are in the same boat of uncertainty as they learn what prayer is all about. Work with them to create the prayer list, then use it to pray together out loud.

6.       Embrace the opportunity to pray out loud when you are especially troubled.

This might sound counterintuitive, but chances are, it’s easier for you to pray out loud when you are the most troubled. Why? Because you know exactly what to talk about. There is something very specific on your heart at that moment. It’s often most intimidating to pray when there is nothing wrong because the sky is the limit on things to be grateful for and things to praise God for. Where do you even start? Embrace the opportunity to pray out loud when you have something very specific to talk about!

7.       When praying for others, ask them for one specific prayer request.

There may be nothing more terrifying to me than being placed in a situation where I’m asked to pray with or for another person directly (e.g., at a retreat, in a small group, after church, etc.). It’s very difficult to be thrown into a prayer situation you aren’t prepared for. Unless you’ve already ducked out to the bathroom, ask the person for one specific thing they want you to pray for to avoid an onslaught of requests you fear you won’t remember. Their specific answer will help you feel more prepared.

8.       In the context of family prayers, try leading a “round-table” style.

When we pray at night, we often do a round-table prayer where the person leading the prayer says a simple introduction and then says, “…and Nathan would like to thank you for (Nathan gives thanks)…and Kenna would like to thank you for (Kenna gives thanks)…” and so on. This is a great way to ease into praying out loud because you are only acting as a “facilitator” of the prayer. It’s less pressure for you, and gives your kids the opportunity to get used to praying out loud themselves.

9.       Start with meal time prayers.

If the idea of any audible prayer makes you shudder, simply start with meal time prayers. You can do it: “Dear God, Thank you for this food. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” Say it with your children, say it with your spouse. But say it. Even those few words will open the door to more comfort with praying out loud.

What barriers do you have to praying out loud? What has helped you become more comfortable?

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Comments

  1. Jennifer says:

    I think the main thing is just praying out loud often. At first you will be nervous, but the more you do it the more normal it becomes. :)

  2. So interesting, because I thought I was in a minority here. And guess what? I’m a pastor, and I hate praying out loud. Really. You share some great ideas, especially letting people know it’s OK to keep it short and real.

  3. Natasha, this speaks directly to me! I have feared praying out loud for so long, and only in the last two years or so have I been pushing myself out of the silent box I’d rather comfortably stay inside of. I started with praying out loud for my kids at bedtime, in their presence. It was hard. But I survived and learned that they love it! The only thing they said every once in a while was “mommy, that was a really long prayer!” Now they actually ask me to pray for and with them. We also pray before meals and I’ve started asking the girls to say the blessing if I’m still putting things on the table and my husband is running late from work. I love hearing their cute voices say the blessing. We also hold hands around the table, which I love. I know this is an issue God is pushing me to grow stronger in because He seems to be putting me in more and more situations where I’m leading a group and SHOULD pray before we start. Of course afterward, I usually kick myself for letting fear keep me from doing the right thing. I know I can do it. I know He has equipped me. I know that even when I can’t find the words, The Holy Spirit will prompt me. I just hate being tongue tied and feeling like I’ll sound like a fool. This is all great advice that you give. I will be praying for you to find the courage to improve in your prayer life. Would you also pray for me? :) Thank you so much, dear friend!

    • Rosann, I get sweaty hands even reading about someone else praying in front of a group. haha :) Thank you for sharing your prayer challenges, and for your kind offer to pray for me! I will certainly pray for you as well. May we both depend on the Holy Spirit rather than ourselves!

  4. These are perfect suggestions. We have been praying together before meals for quite some time now, but i have been wanting other ways to introduce it to my boys at other times of the day. I like the “facilitator” idea and writing prayers down first sounds like a good way to get all of us prepared for prayer. It is thought provoking when you have to write things down. Thank you!

    • That’s great Denise, thank you! I’m so glad you were able to gain some ideas from it. “Facilitation” helped me a lot to get used to hearing my own voice. Then slowly I started saying more at the beginning of the prayer before I “called” on each person. Now I can say the prayers much more easily!

  5. Thank you so much for this! I really felt like I was alone in my prayer-insecurity. I was saved in college and I grew up in an environment where praying aloud was discouraged. Even now, years later, I panic in some of the situations you described.
    The thing that really hits home for me is that my prayer can be personal to me, it doesn’t have to fit some sort of model or formula for prayer. The idea is so liberating. Thank you.

  6. What if you have a hard time praying out loud?? I stutter when I talk so sometimes it’s very depressing when I’m trying to really express myself verbally to God and the words don’t come out.

  7. Thank you so much for this! At school, we have an impact group every Tuesday I’ve been going to since 7th grade, and from them until even now (I’m a freshmen), I’ve been too afraid to pray out loud! Thank you for your helpful advice, it will come in handy :-)

  8. I am so thankful that I found this! This year I was asked to lead a youth group and the Pastor told me he would like me to end with prayer at every meeting. I panicked and continue too. Reading this and all the post make me feel like I’m not alone. I have felt so insecure about this that I was even embarrassed to talk to anyone about it. But I felt I had to talk about it because it was really killing me. I told the Pastor I didn’t know how to pray and said to me “God isn’t fussy.” I try to remember that but I still feel judged by others when I do. This will really help me in my walk, thank you so much for sharing.

    • I am totally the same way. I always feel everyone else just prays with such ease. It just comes out and always sounds so professional! I just don’t know how to do that. Once I start talking I can’t think of what I want to say next. I thought I was the only one that felt that way too.

  9. I just took over as chairperson on a committee at church. I will have to open and close the meetings with a prayer. I was raised a Catholic where all the prayers were the same and from memory. How am I ever going to be able to do this? I am so nervous. I’m thinking about writing some short prayers for each and learning them. Would that be too cheesy?

  10. Thank you sooooo much for this!!! I stumbled on it today & it was JUST what I needed. I feel God leading me as a prayer warrior & I do GREAT on my own, but when it come to praying out loud I freeze. I too felt I needed to sound like everyone else. Thank you for showing me I can pray the way I pray & not feel like I have to “sound” like everyone else! God bless you abundantly!!!!!!!

  11. I was really active in church some years back. The youth group I was in grew in number rapidly and I was put to take care of the younger kids. I had been dicipling them and leading them into prayers without any fear. But after some time, my walk with God became shaky as there were some disagreement with my leader. The hurt and awkwardness drew me away from church.

    5 years later, I decided that I should not let this problem be a stumbling block in my walk with God. I struggled and plucked up my courage to return to church.

    After I’m back in church, I realised that I have new struggles.. I can’t praise and worship God freely like how I used to. I can’t pray openly like how I used to. Even during a small group sharing, I’ll tremble and break cold sweat as I share my problems..

    My prayer style is conversational. I can pray really smoothly in my heart, but when I’m told to pray it out loud, I’ll panic.

    My boyfriend who has been encouraging me all this while had been making me pray over our meals. The fear in me kept me begging him to not let me do it. One day, I finally did it! I cried after that but he was cheering for me!

    Until this day, I’m still struggling to pray openly. My boyfriend led me to this page, hoping that it will be of help. I’ll try them and I hope that I’ll be able to pray freely like how I used to.. I dont want to be trap in this fear anymore.. It’s suffocating, unable to get near to God..

  12. Same here. So fearful of praying in a setting with other people. I listen to some begin to pray for others in the group and they sound so sincere and professional. I believe that I truly care for others and have empathy, but am too concerned about myself and how I might sound that I can’t pray for others. I am attending a women’s group of about 30 ladies once a month and some of them sound great when they pray. Everyone in the group is taking turns sharing their testimony, and I’m concerned about that also. Don’t know if I can do it because of nerves. However, Satan has kept me quiet and insecure all of my life. I might just step out and continue the meetings, praying, and giving my testimony just to give him a black eye because I’m tired of leaving the meetings without being able to speak out.

  13. This is wonderful! Thank You!!

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