“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers”—Philippians4:6 (TLB).
Praying aloud in a group setting wasn’t easy for me before I made Jesus the Lord of my life. If the group leader asked for a volunteer to lead the prayer, I remained silent, waiting for someone else to speak out.
My thoughts raced with the following: What if I don’t know what to say? What if my words are jumbled? I don’t even know how to use eloquent, “religious-sounding” words. I’m just plain scared! What if I just sound stupid?
As my walk with God has deepened, so has my prayer life. I’ve learned to pray from the heart. I’ve learned formulas don’t matter as long as your heart is in tune with His. This doesn’t mean I ignore praying as Jesus taught His disciples. (The Lord’s Prayer is recorded in two of the gospels: Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-4.)
There is no formula to prayer—it is simply conversing with God.
Evangelist Billy Graham says, “There is no formula to prayer—it is simply conversing with God. It is essentially talking with God as you would talk with an earthly parent who loves you and wants the best for you. God is your Heavenly Father who loves you perfectly.”
Because I used to be a “perfectionist,” I hesitated to pray aloud. As I’ve learned not to strive for perfection, but to let the Perfect One show me how to live, I pray aloud, not only in group settings but one-on-one, as well as in public.
Two days a month, I work the front-door ministry at Claremore First United Methodist Church, where I help fill grocery sacks for those in need. However, I know those who come asking for assistance have an even greater need. When I deliver a grocery basket, I always ask if the recipient needs prayer and how I specifically can pray for the person that day. As I hold the individual’s hand in mine, I pray aloud for those specific needs. My heart soars because I know the words are coming from God’s Holy Spirit and I don’t fear not sounding “religious” enough.
How did I overcome my fear? The most important element is spending time alone with God in prayer. For me, that means early morning before life gets crazy.
Second, as Billy Graham reminds us, God is our friend—our best friend—so we can forget proper grammar and using the “right” words. Just talk to Him.
Third, I write my prayers down in a journal, including things I’m praying about for others as well as myself. It keeps me on track with my prayer life and a periodic review of my journal pages reminds me that God does answer my prayers.
Last, make it a routine. Even if you start with five minutes each day, pick a time of day and remain consistent. When you do, you’ll find yourself spending more time with your Heavenly Father.
Before you realize it, you’ll be praying from the heart, aloud and in public, without fear and without hesitation.