Fear of Praying With People
Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us to be creative and find ways to encourage one another. ““Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” I ask you to consider ways you can spur one another on in their faith, especially on the topic of praying together.
When someone is in need it’s important we are prepared to help them by praying for and with them. Sadly, too many Christians have an aversion to praying in public. I use to be one of them and there are still times I hesitate and defer to others. I feel unqualified and unworthy.
From my experience, when I’ve been part of a Bible study the leader generally closes the session by asking for prayer requests. People rarely shy away from sharing their needs. But, when the leader asks for volunteers to pray, few are willing. Years of attending Bible studies, most of those in the room defer to the leader or someone else to pray.
I’ve also been part of groups when we close our eyes and go around the circle for people to give a one sentence prayer. If an individual isn’t comfortable praying out loud, they can pass by poking the person next to them, which is an indicator to move on to the next person without praying.
It’s not wrong to pass, but if our reason for passing is because we feel inadequate or intimidated, I envision Satan looking on, snickering, pleased that we kept our mouths shut. It's one of Satan's secret bag of tricks to keep us from relying and speaking the name of Jesus.
Satan knows the Bible inside and out and he is well aware that there is power in numbers when God’s people come together to pray. And there is power in the Name.
Jesus promised: “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:19-20.
It’s for this reason I believe it’s essential Christians learn to get comfortable praying out loud, whether in groups or one-on-one. Our faith rises when we hear the voices of those of like mind praying for us. Together, we are strengthened and confident that what is being asked will be done according to God’s will
Praying and agreeing can be as simple as saying “amen,” or “thank you, Jesus.” You could also say, “heal” “comfort,” “strengthen,” and end with “in Jesus name.” Let’s not complicate the simplicity of talking to God.
One of the issues I’ve experienced when asked to go around the circle to pass or pray is that I find myself distracted on what I should pray, if I should pray, and if it’s really okay to pass. I’m preoccupied and there’s this internal struggle going on that keeps me from agreeing with those in the room.
As much as I would like to think my brain can multitask, I can’t listen and think simultaneously. I have to choose to think about what I might say or focus on the needs of others. Agreeing is more important than thinking up what and how to pray.
When we take steps to pray in public and get out of our little corner of “let somebody else do it,” we free our minds to be united in prayer. We’re more apt to believe that the Lord will do great and mighty things through his son Jesus Christ.
One man’s prayer of faith moves mountains and we can be in agreement in silence, but we can’t ignore the effectiveness and value when we pray aloud. Like an orchestra playing in perfect harmony, so should God’s people when they come together to pray. It is a glorious sound when everyone in the room is giving praise and thanks to God.
When Paul and Silas were in prison they “were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.” Acts 16:25
The jailer heard them and fell to his knees and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Had they prayed silently to themselves I imagine this jailer may never have discovered Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Acts 16:29
Another instance when the disciples were praying together is found in Acts 4. “As soon as Peter and John were freed from prison, they returned to the other believers and told them what the leading priests and elders had said. When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit …” Acts 4:23-25
They lifted their voices to God, united in prayer, resulting in bold prayers. They asked God to stretch out his hands, heal people and to see miraculous signs and wonders. And they did. Acts 4:29-30.
“After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness … All the believers were united in heart and mind.” Acts 4:31-32
Some things to consider is to create a safe space for others to practice praying amongst friends. “Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing.” Philippians 4:9 and 2 Corinthians 1:24
I had a coworker who would ask me to meet her in a room and pray for her. I can’t say I was always comfortable, but I never said no. During her pain, I encouraged her and in the process she taught me how to gain confidence praying out loud with people.
2 Timothy 4:2 states that we are “to be ready in season and out of season.” For me, I see this two-fold. I’m to be ready to share the gospel and to pray with others.
We must uproot all feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. God will never criticize how we pray if we come to him with a heart of love and humility. “Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word [prayer] makes him glad.” Proverbs 12:25
If you’re like me, you may stumble over your words. your voice may shake and when you’re done, you wonder why you said what you said and wish you would have said it differently. Pray and move on. “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life … “ Proverbs 10:11
Lead by example. “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 12:25
“Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” Romans 15:2 MSG