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How to Pray in Public

Updated on August 22, 2014

Are You Afraid to Pray in Public?

Are you afraid to pray in public? Are you embarrassed at praying out loud? Should a Christian pray out loud in public? Read on for some insights and tips that will make praying outloud before a group easier and more meaningful.

Glossophobia is "the fear of public speaking." I am unable to find a clinical term for "the fear of Public Praying" (I suspect there are enough similarities that a separate name is not warranted), but a name is not necessary for the intended purpose of this webpage, anyway. This is not to be a clinical (read that as worldly) study, but rather a spiritual one. I hope to help people recognize the role of Public Prayer in society and Church and to help people be better prepared when their turn comes to Pray in Public.

Image: Praying Cowboys.

Christian Praying in Public

Let's get this out of the way:

Let me start by saying that this Lens is written from a decidedly Christian/Judeo Christian perspective. This is offered neither as an excuse for my beliefs nor a condemnation of others' beliefs; it's just that I'm a Christian and the God of the Holy Bible is the only god that I know how to pray to.

Public Prayer

What are You Talking About?

Public Prayer is a somewhat vague term and can refer to several types of prayer, some of which are detailed below:

  • Praying silently/quietly, to oneself in a public area. In Ist Thessalonians, we're told to pray without ceasing; this should not be a stumbling block.

  • Praying aloud in a public area uninvited and with antagonistic intent. This is born of a spirit of hate, not love. God is love.

  • Praying aloud in public because you're invited to do so and because it's the right thing to do.

I'm sure there are other possibilities, but the third is what I'm addressing in this website.

Every Christian is asked to pray out loud at some time. Inside the Church, we're asked to pray in Sunday School classes, prayer meetings, through the course of worship meetings, etcetera - often, just because it's our turn.

Outside the Church, we're often called upon because others recognize that it's proper to pray to God, but they don't have a strong enough relationship with Him to do it themselves.

One group asks us to pray as a matter of growth and discipline. The other asks us to pray because we can and they cannot - either way, don't turn down this opportunity. Don't deny your Lord in Public!

Why Pray in Public

Argument #1 - The Bible says We're Not Supposed to Pray in Public.

Scripture does not tell us to not pray in public. Scripture does tell us to not pray in such a way as to try to exalt ourselves. In Luke 18, we have the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Both men prayed out loud and in public: the tax collector prayed earnestly to God and was justified; the Pharisee prayed to himself and was not.

Praying in Public

Argument #2 - We're Told to Lock Ourselves in Our Prayer Room.

Yes we are. But if you were to reread Matthew 6, I think you'd realize that Personal Prayer and Public Prayer are different, but not mutually exclusive. Having a personal relationship with God is the foundation of the Christian faith. That personal relationship is what allows us to talk (pray) one-on-one with God.

Everyone should seek to have a meaningful Personal Prayer life. The fact remains that from time to time, every practicing Christian will be called upon to pray in public.

Praying in Public

Argument #3 - I Don't Know How to Pray. I Don't Know my Bible Well Enough. I Don't Speak "thees" and "thous." I'm Afraid to Pray Out Loud. I'm Just not Articulate Enough!

I don't know how: that's why you're here.

I don't know my Bible well enough: continue in your studies, but don't let it keep you from this area of worship and service to God.

I don't speak "thees" and "thous": neither do I, but God hears my prayers anyway.

I'm afraid to pray out loud and/or I'm just not articulate enough: Ah, I suspect that this is the real problem. Either we feel we'll be judged by others in the group, and fall short of their expectations, or we feel inadequate to represent the rest of the group as we stand before God.

  • I don't know your group; they may judge you harshly. But I think that in most cases, this is more of a perceived problem than a real probability. Your effort will be appreciated. Many will just be glad they're not the ones praying out loud.

  • I do know God. Pray earnestly and He will not be disappointed.

Dos and Don'ts of Public Prayer

Remember, You're Praying to God on Behalf of Your Group

DON'T use this opportunity to show off your Bible knowledge or oratory skill, shame anyone into repentance, advertise your cause or preach a mini sermon.

  • We've all heard the man that can pray from Genesis to Revelations... using "thees" and "thous," "shalts" and "shalt nots"... addressing God by every name used in the Bible (some in the original language)... calling down fire and brimstone. If this is that man's personality and is the way he prays in his private prayer time, then I say have at it. But if this is a show being performed to impress others, then it has no place among the assembly of God's people.

DO use this opportunity to approach the Throne of God, and to take the rest of the group with you.

  • Thank God for His goodness.

  • Pray targeted prayers, mentioning specific people, projects or circumstances as appropriate.

  • Pray scripture back to God, use His names, remember His promises.

  • You're not all alone with God, but that's not a bad thing.

  • Pray with your eyes shut and your hands folded. Pray with your eyes open and your hands raised. Pray from a broken heart or an uplifted spirit. Once you and your group have entered the presence of God, posture doesn't matter.

How to Pray in Public

Alright, I'm Convicted; How Do I Get Started?

  1. Pray in private, first. Tell God your need and ask Him to help.

  2. Listen to the public prayers of others and learn what you can. Don't duplicate; just learn.

  3. Anticipate when you might be called upon for impromptu Public Prayer: mealtime, Sunday School, Prayer Meetings, little-league games and local events are examples. By doing this, hopefully you won't be caught unprepared.

  4. Sometimes you don't have to anticipate - you're asked in advance. Often this happens in more formal settings and when there will be larger crowds (funerals, dedications, club meetings, weddings). Do it! This shows that you were selected on purpose and with forethought, not by random chance.

  5. Prepare. It's OK to rehearse. Rehearsing a prayer is the same as praying! God's listening.

  6. When the time comes, use whatever tricks you have to avoid being overly nervous. Trust God to help you. Know that your offering is pleasing to the Lord.

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My Public Prayer for You

I pray that you and your group will be blessed the next time that you have the opportunity to Pray Aloud and In Public.

I'll enjoy reading your comments.

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    • GuyB LM profile image

      GuyB LM 3 years ago

      Are you this accepting of Muslims praying in public?

    • ToTheBrimm LM profile image
      Author

      ToTheBrimm LM 3 years ago

      @anonymous: "not one tidbit of the word of God...?"

      I count three direct scriptural references. Three references and three points - I'd say that's a pretty good ratio.

    • ToTheBrimm LM profile image
      Author

      ToTheBrimm LM 3 years ago

      @lisln: me too!

    • profile image

      ConvenientCalendar 4 years ago

      They discourage praying or talking about God in school, but encourage it in jail. Only the sick call on the great physician and healer! Great lens!

    • lisln profile image

      LorLinda 4 years ago from Denver Colorado

      @clarkocs: I agree with this

    • profile image

      clarkocs 4 years ago

      Thank you for addressing this topic. As a Christian, I have no problem praying in public, I was brought up that way. But I do it with a spirit of LOVE. I don't impose my prayers on people who are not receptive. I am respectful of their feelings.

      I have asked a person on the street, based on our conversation, if I could pray for them. In these instances I pray out loud. As believers we must remember that sometimes we are the only church a person sees.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      When Jesus cast the devil out of a man, was Hes mouth shut ?...." in my name they shall cast out devils" who ? The Believers my brother!

    • AstroGremlin profile image

      AstroGremlin 4 years ago

      As a follower of Klarg the Almighty, the approximate equivalent of your Thor, my rituals are not always welcome so I do them in private. Actually in my closet.

    • bwylde profile image

      bwylde 4 years ago

      Thank you very much for the like and the blessing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      We either adhere to the word of God, or to the word of man. Clearly we are directed the Bible or the word of God (law, covenant): DO NOT PRAY IN THE PUBLIC! So, choose you this day who you will serve. For example this piece, not one tidbit of the word of God is considered, but all is the word of man. Few there be says Jesus.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Praise GOD. Thank you so much that i got the chance to find your page. I know that God allowed this opportunity to really understand His will for me. May He Bless you always for being a Blessing to us all.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I am so happy I found this, on praying out loud. I recently switched from a church that everyone prays silently in their pews to one that prays in groups out loud and I joined a small group that we take turns praying. I try focusing on our Lord and not think of everyone around me but it still is hard. I just am so thankful for your helpful tips, and cofirmation on how we should pray and it's okay to be prepared and even practice. Thank you!! Bless you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you for this post. I used to pray for my girlfriend, but my prayer life hasn't been alive lately. It just feels like I always mess up my words when praying aloud, but this definitely is helping. My girlfriend asked me to pray for us tonight and I just didn't know what to say, I was nervous. But I will definitely practice, and pray to God every chance I get so when I get the next opportunity to pray aloud, I will take it and know that God will give me the ability to do so.

    • ToTheBrimm LM profile image
      Author

      ToTheBrimm LM 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I am so glad that this helps you and I'm praying that you become more comfortable in your out-loud praying.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @MeghanKennard when we do see you in public, we are going to lay hands on you and just pray.

    • justmelucy profile image

      justmelucy 4 years ago

      Amen. Great Lens. I love to see others praying. I usually silently join them.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      @ToTheBrimm LM: Ah, just reflecting on that time I spent in late 2010 and early 2011 at my mom's. It was a time of great inward introspection and prayer. I'm still reflecting on those prayers yet today!

    • mrkensworld profile image

      mrkensworld 5 years ago

      This was quite a find and I hope it helps many to take the lead and connect with the Father..

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      The group does not have any problem,its just me,the only one that stays silent. I am often too emotional also. I can't speak when I am emotional and I don't know how to stop it before it takes hold of me.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Acts 4:12 "Salvation is found in no one else, Jesus, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

    • LisaGraceBooks profile image

      LisaGraceBooks 5 years ago

      Great topic and lens. I wish more Christians would pray in public before meals or any event. Thanks for liking my lens :)

    • Gayle Mclaughlin profile image

      Gayle 5 years ago from McLaughlin

      I know most people are shy about praying in public. Thanks for a wonderful article on why we should always pray. Squid Angel blessed!

    • pastorkayte profile image

      pastorkayte 5 years ago

      I enjoyed this tremendously, I continuously write Christian topics and this is one of the best one.

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 5 years ago

      Well done.

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 5 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Wonderful! This tip: Pray in private, first. Tell God your need and ask Him to help...is perfect! I always remember that Moses had trouble speaking as well :)

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 5 years ago from Virginia

      I can be better equipped for the next time this comes up. Thanks for sharing. Great work you have here.

    • Chynsea LM profile image

      Chynsea LM 6 years ago

      Thank you for clearing up the "public prayer" issue for me. Awesome page btw.

    • profile image

      SnoopyGirl1 6 years ago

      Wonderful lens that hits straight to the heart of it. We should pray out of our hearts and with love as our guide. This will make every prayer easier. Thanks for sharing!

    • Tyla MacAllister profile image

      Tyla MacAllister 6 years ago

      .I have seen people who purposely make a spectacle of themselves while praying in public and I'm always embarrassed for them.The Bible makes it clear that praying with the purpose of making other people think you're holy or to provoke others is not acceptable.

      As long as your motive isn't to make a show for other people I don't think Christians (or people of other faiths,for that matter) should be ashamed to pray while in public When we think of "public prayer" we tend to imagine the prayers that take place at large events. It's easy to forget that praying before a meal in a restaurant Is a public prayer as well.

      This is a beautifully done lens with lots of great resources for further reading and study.

      * Squidangel. blessings for How To Pray In Public.*

    • profile image

      ideadesigns 6 years ago

      Beautiful. It's a problem with most people I think. If you pray enough in private it will become easier in public. If you love God with your whole heart, it will shine through any prayer.

    • ToTheBrimm LM profile image
      Author

      ToTheBrimm LM 6 years ago

      @julieannbrady: I do know what you mean. I think guys are called upon to pray out loud more than women are(especially when you're the token Christian of the group) - in restaurants, before little league games, etc. Public prayer cannot replace private, quiet-time prayer.

    • ToTheBrimm LM profile image
      Author

      ToTheBrimm LM 6 years ago

      @sheriangell: especially when you're in a small-group study session.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 6 years ago

      I've had some very personal and compelling prayers in private with the Lord ... I am humble about making those public, you know?

    • sheriangell profile image

      sheriangell 6 years ago

      One I began praying out loud, I found my prayers came more from the heart and strengthened my relationship with the Lord. Praying in public with a group is a powerful experience.

    • ToTheBrimm LM profile image
      Author

      ToTheBrimm LM 6 years ago

      @FixingMixingDrinks: Thank you for your kind words.

      As for the "never been big on religion" part - God doesn't offer us a religion, He offers us a relationship. Since you checked out this lens, I'm guessing you have some level of curiosity; if you ever have a question, hit me up. I'll do my best get you an answer.

    • ToTheBrimm LM profile image
      Author

      ToTheBrimm LM 6 years ago

      @darciefrench lm: Everybody should check out Darcie's http://www.squidoo.com/dear-squidoo lens. You'll be glad you did.

    • ToTheBrimm LM profile image
      Author

      ToTheBrimm LM 6 years ago

      @wilhb81 lm: It still amazes me that the King of the Universe would make Himself available to me, through prayer, the way He does.

      God is good.

    • profile image

      FixingMixingDrinks 6 years ago

      I will admit I have never been big on religion but this was a very well written lens with a great amount of content.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 6 years ago

      Precious lens- living life like a prayer.

    • wilhb81 lm profile image

      wilhb81 lm 6 years ago

      Praying is not only can keep us stay calm, but it's also generate very enormous yet sacred power! As a human being, we all should learn to be grateful on what we're having now... To me, praying in public is totally acceptable.

    • profile image

      jgelien 6 years ago

      Thank you for a very thoughtful lens on a topic that is close to my heart.

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 6 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 6 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Excellent lens. You have some great points. Blessings to you.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 6 years ago

      Wow what a great subject and a favorite of mine! I see AJ my friend has acknowledge part of what I was going to say...I for one have absolutely NO problem praying in public, we also pray at meals where-ever we are...If we pray we should not be so loud as to be heard "just to be heard" putting the emphasis on YOU, that takes it away from God.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      @ajgodinho: God doesn't need our help, but for some reason he allows us to participate in the execution of His plan through our prayers and our works of service. It's a blessing to be told that a prayer that you prayed publicly was a blessing to someone else that heard it.

      Thank you for your comment and greeting.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Good points and I like the fact that you mentioned that prayer is really communication with God. We are in a relationship with God so, communication is vital to maintain it. As far as prayer is concerned, I think relying on the Spirit of God is key. Welcome to Squidoo...blessings! :)