Praying Out Loud To A Crowd? Country to City Culture Shock

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  • Praying Out Loud To A Crowd? Country to City Culture Shock

    I grew up in a tiny town in Nebraska for most of my childhood. For the most part, I went to the Nazarene church and later the Baptist church. They were very reserved Orthodox styled church where the silence of people praying to God and Jesus could be felt against your skin. If a member or your family was sick or you were injured, people would before or after service would offer to pray for you. That would always mean, they would include you in their private service prays or later at home. Pastors would occasionally mention a family but the prayers would usually take in a bigger picture of the people in the Church or the Church. Prayer is viewed as a very private moment between God and you. I've never heard my grandparents pray, just silence, if that illustrates how sacred the pray is viewed in my family. So I grew up for most of my childhood thinking that praying is a private thing.

    Then I moved to California. Not only are the churches more relaxed but so are uptight rules I've grown up with. I love the updated music and the relatable take on bible verses. I enjoy participating at the food bank and helping during holidays. But, one tiny thing still throws me off after all these years living here. People here pray outloud, with a microphone, screaming, with an audience, and for themselves most of the time. There are always at least fifteen open prayers, not done by the pastor, of people praying for things they need or them patting themselves on the back for their humility or something. I don't know if it's because of how I was raised or how they talk when they pray, maybe both. But it always sounds very insincere. I can't shake it. And then there are the touchers, at the food bank, we have people who like to lay hands on people and pray over an injury or pained limb or something. I've never seen anything like it before. None of my childhood pastors would have played a hand on an injury and prayed for it to be healed. They would say they would pray for God's will to be done, and that's it. I accept God's will but the touchers weird me out. I feel like it's wrong to assume you can pray a injury away as just a person. I believe in God but I'm no one special. It just seems arrogant that you can demand God to heal an injury. I mean, I'll pray for God's will to be done, whatever it is. But I wouldn't say that it's done, it's healed. I just can't. The bigger issue becomes a problem when people ask me to pray for them, out loud. Words fail to come to my lips because my head is calling me an arrogant heretic the whole time. The words fumble out and sound horrible, and in their eyes I might as well be an atheist. I can't properly explain that where I grew up, you don't pray out loud and you don't demand suddenly for someone to pray for you.

    So, am I a bad Christian because I'm bad at praying out loud? Is it wrong for me be uncomfortable around verbal prayers to an audience? Do you have similar issues or maybe a reverse? Is it wrong to prefer to pray for people privately?

  • #2
    Many people in the Bible prayed out loud, including Jesus and the apostles. We should spend time praying privately to God but there are times when we are in a group that it is appropriate to pray out loud. On the other hand Jesus also told us our prayers should be always be directed to God and not intended to elicit the praise of men.

    We are also commanded to pray for those who are sick or injured and there is no reason not to lay their hands on that person while doing so. Praying for someone to be healed isn't arrogance but obedience to God and an expression of love for the one you are praying forl
    Clyde Herrin's Blog
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    • #3
      2Leapoffaith an unwillingness to pray out loud doesn't mean you are a bad Christian. When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He told them this: ". . . 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. Truly I tell you, they already have their reward. But when you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
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      • #4
        Does it matter whether it is out loud or not?
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        • #5
          Hmmm, I'd say that's quite a spectrum of questions within a thread, so let's start with praying quiet or out loud. In all settings it really does not make any difference if we pray out loud or to ourselves. In many settings a "round" of prayer is spoken out loud for all to hear and agree upon, whereas like LeapOfFaith89 has experienced, the congregation all prays at once aloud and prays whatever they wish. In most instances, a "corporate" prayer is offered whereby one person prays aloud while the congregation prays quietly in agreement. Nothing wrong with any one of them as long as it is within the confines of the order of that particular church setting and what everyone has agreed upon.

          Personal prayer is personal prayer. Eyes open, eyes shut. On your face, knees, laying down or standing up. Loud, under our breath, in our heads with no voice at all. On the couch, in the bed, next to the bed, in the shower, standing on your head. ..........it doesn't matter. What matters is the state of your heart. KISS......Keep It Simple Saint!

          Laying on of Hands I guess is next. All through history the practice of laying on of hands has been a part of religious ceremonies whether it was the sinner laying his hand upon the calf to be sacrificed or the priest laying hands on the scapegoat. Or perhaps a father laying his hands on his son or family to bless them or a transference of power from one person to another.
          In Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts and James we have examples of the laying on of hands for healing, Holy Spirit Baptism, knowledge, wisdom and again, the giving of a special office or power to one within the body of Christ.

          Now, the one part I really want to get to is the part of affirmation within a prayer.
          Perhaps a good study in the types of prayer should be a course and topic for another thread in the Bible Study area but for now please do consider this: Just the mere utterance of the word "AMEN" is a definitive affirmation that we believe that our prayers are not only truthful but in our newer world the word means "so be it". Jesus offen started his statements with "verily" or "verily verily" which can be translated in most cases as truthfully truthfully or amen amen. Whether at the start or the finish, (although I have never heard anyone say amen at the start) saying the word amen is a personal affirmation that whatever is being prayed for is in truth and will be done, or "so be it".

          Hmmmm............In the past, I have taught all of my students that prayer, whether it is a personal conversation with God or a corporate submission is an extremely powerful and positive tool. We should indeed pray for others but we can and should pray for ourselves. If we needed a glass of water when we were younger were we taught that we had to wait for someone else to ask our moms or dads to give us one?
          No indeed! We were taught to go to our parents boldly and with humility and ask for the water with a Please up front and a Thankyou after ward.

          So it is with God.



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          • #6
            My only problem with praying out loud is that it tends to be done more for the purpose of self-grandiosing public theater than an actual prayer. I have been in churches, including the one in which I grew up, where people would use the King James English in their prayers, when they certainly never spoke in thee's and thou's otherwise. It seems pretentious, and done for the purpose of impressing those around them rather than communicating with God. To think that God wouldn't understand contemporary English is odd enough as it is, but if you wanted to speak in a language that Jesus could understand, perhaps Aramaic would be a better choice.

            But even when people pray aloud in contemporary English, it seems to be more performance than prayer, and that's true whether it's the pastor leading the congregation in prayer or someone from the congregation speaking out in prayer. It so seldom seems genuine. That said, I have heard public prayers that seemed to be genuine, but perhaps they are just better performed. I suppose I shouldn't feel uncomfortable with it, since I grew up in a church where people would be asked to pray publicly but I have never been able to view it as genuine prayer. Even when I am asked to lead a prayer, I find that I am thinking of things that would be acceptable to the audience rather than to God, and that's certainly not something that I do in personal prayer.
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            • #7
              I prefer prayers to be quiet. It's more sincere that way. Praying out loud, especially within earshot of people, really makes me doubt the sincerity of the one praying. With these people, it's more of "showing" that they are religious, instead of actually communicating with someone higher than ourselves. That's why I hate it when people do it in public. Even the whole kneeling thing while on a public area. It just makes them look like they are seeking attention from everyone else. Like a beacon, urging people to look at the superior person praying, because you are not as religious as they are. I prefer prayers in privacy, in silence, because that is the only time you can be yourself.
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              • #8
                Yes indeed Ken Anderson, I too have heard some great orations that are fit for the podium but not necessarily meant for the ears of God but those of men.

                But, funny things happen when you're in the midst of some guys who are still learning to pray on a personal basis much less corporately.
                For instance: In a round of prayer at morning devotions, I had a new student who nervously choked out, "this is the day the Lord hath made, PLEASE HELP us to rejoice and be glad in it". We need it! Amen.
                On another day, a student merely said something like, "Lord, I do not know how to talk to you but you know what everyone needs better than I do so please go for it". Amen.

                Simplicity and honesty coming from grown men who are babes in Christ. I am soooo sure that God honors those prayers far more than some of the great orations from "some" well practiced speakers. No wonder why I love to work in the Rescue Mission Ministry so much. It certainly ain't the money!
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                • #9
                  I'm very much like this myself. I prefer to pray quietly by myself, even though I'm married. I will pray for my husband, our families, and whomever, but I just have so much difficulty bringing the words forward for everyone to hear. I will say grace at the dinner table if someone asks me to, but even that can feel awkward and uncomfortable at times. It all depends, I guess, on how close I am to the people for and with whom I'm praying. I once attended a Church of the Nazarene where the pastor would routinely pick some random person out of the congregation to say a prayer aloud. One day it was my turn, and I managed it but it felt like pulling teeth on a grizzly trying to get the proper words out. My mom was asked to deliver the prayer once and outright refused right there on the spot. One thing about it, the pastor never asked her again.
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                  • #10
                    I grew up a Baptist in Texas. Everyone prayed aloud. However, the older I got the more uncomfortable I became saying my prayers aloud. I consider my talks with God to be personal. And with praying aloud, there is always the temptation to put on a show for others.
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