I say use the “Nuclear Option”
My wife and I spend time praying together every day. One day I’ll lead the prayer and the next day it is her turn. She did not enter this project willingly. This is not to say that she didn’t pray before, but it is to say that she is most uncomfortable praying out loud, (She is shy beyond the pale and despises publically speaking in front of anyone to include me who has been married to her for 44 years).
When she first started praying out loud she became flustered and often hesitated and stammered. When praying for friends whom she loves and who desperately needed prayer she would often begin crying. She seemed embarrassed by these moments and would stop praying, get mad, and tell me that she was not going to do it anymore. But I calmly told her to kindly take a deep breath and continue.
After she spent a considerable amount of time praying out loud and receiving encouragement from me I’m happy to report that she is much more natural at it now and it has become less of a task to her. Now she only petitions me to lead the prayer when we are facing monumental obstacles in our lives that are very serious in nature.
Many people have the mistaken notion that we are to only pray silently. This more than likely comes from taking out of context the parable about the Pharisee in Matthew 6:5, Jesus says, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”
Jesus is not condemning the fact that people prayed aloud with this parable, but that they were putting on a public display for their own benefit. Their motive was to be seen of men. Such prayer is not real prayer, but empty words meant for the ears of other people. What Jesus was condemning was arrogance and hypocrisy. He was denouncing those who were clearly disobedient to God and yet led a public prayer as though he or she had much to brag about. To ensure that there was no mistake God even wrote a Psalm about the kind of attitude that He wants us to assume; Psalm 51:17 –
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart” . . . That is the type attitude the tax collector who beat his chest and cried in shame displayed. He was genuinely remorseful of his sins.
To use public prayer as a means of showing off or impressing others is wrong. But sincere prayer from a humble heart is always welcomed by God and can be an encouragement to those who hear it. Jesus Himself prayed out loud on many occasions such as John 17:17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you . . . We should always desire to emulate Jesus in every way!
Jesus knew very well that his Father knew His thoughts before He ever opened His mouth. So why didn’t He silently pray this prayer? He did so to encourage others. The Apostles did the same. In Ephesians 5:20, Paul instructs the church to “give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”Consider these verses: Acts 16:25 – “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,” Acts 20:36 – “And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.” Acts 1:14 “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” Then in verse 24, the apostles prayed together to choose someone to fill Judas’ spot among the twelve.
They were clearly praying together and out loud. So, the sin is not in the public nature of the prayer or the fact that people can hear it. The sin is when the prayer is pretentious.
Personally I’ve found that when prayer is employed in a sincere and earnest manner, it is the most powerful gift that God has given us, (I call it the Christian nuclear option). We should use it often.
Take a look at the trillions of stars in the sky and try to comprehend the mindboggling scope of it all. Through the years on many occasions I’ve tried to get the ear of important people including billionaires, four star generals, famous athletes, movie producers, and celebrities of the highest order. They all have gatekeepers who seem to delight in keeping anyone from bothering their boss. God on the other hand offers full and complete direct access 24/7 to anyone who desires an audience with Him. Just imagine this is God the one who created everything that exists. The power that He possesses is unimaginable. He is Omniscient, (knows everything), He is Omnipotent, (all powerful) and Omnipresent, (everywhere at once like an all-powerful communications signal).
Nothing we do, say, or think is hidden from God. He does not need to hear our words to know our thoughts, or our needs; nonetheless He desires for us to pray to Him. God who cannot lie has promised that He hears every prayer uttered.
Who would give you access like that? Someone who loves you so much that He would give His only Son as a sacrifice, someone who would die a horrific death for your sins and mine and be resurrected three days later.
We are told to pray without ceasing both silently and out loud depending upon the occasion. (There are some circumstances where only silent prayer is appropriate, i.e. praying for something between you and God only, praying for someone who is present, etc.) There is not anything wrong with praying silently, as long as we are not doing it because we are embarrassed to be seen praying.
1 Thess. 5:17 tells us: Never stop praying. Part of unceasing prayer will be prayers that are spoken, whispered, shouted, sung, and silent as we direct our thoughts of praise, petition, and thanksgiving to God.
And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”