Feel nervous when asked to pray with others? Here are the keys to learning to pray in public.
If you are somebody who struggles with praying in front of other people, I want you to know that you’re not alone. I had the same struggle, but I learned to overcome it, and I’m going to give you some practical things that you can do to find some confidence and stop being too chicken to pray in front of other people.
Confession time. I am not fond of speaking or praying in front of other people. I do it a lot but it’s still not my favorite thing to do for many reasons. One is that I have really bad stage fright since I was a small child. Shout out to all of us who were forced to learn those speeches for Easter and Christmas every year!
Growing up that was so hard for me. I was so terrified of getting something wrong, being embarrassed, or just standing up there and completely blanking that it just added to my fear of public speaking. I also grew up in a church denomination that is very demonstrative.
They are very vocal, very loud, and very emotional which is fine, but that’s not me. All of this led me to have a hard time getting comfortable praying with other people. If I’m being 100% honest, I still refuse to pray in super large groups.
If you are right there with me, please know you’re not alone. It is something that can be a little daunting, but it’s not something that needs to keep you stuck, held hostage, or keep you from growing. Honestly, it’s an issue of confidence and it’s 100% an area that you can grow in. I know because I have done it.
This was another question from someone in the private community. She said, “I’m really too afraid to pray in front of other people. How did you get comfortable with doing that?” I’m not sure that I’ve gotten comfortable with doing it, but I can manage to do it without having a complete meltdown.
I’m going to share some practical things that you can do so that you can be more comfortable praying in front of other people. Read to the end because I’m going to share a little bonus thought for you at the end.
Learning to Pray in Public Tip #1: Find Your Prayer Style
The fear of praying in public is an issue of confidence and you can grow in it. The first thing that I want to encourage you to do is to find your style of praying. This was, I think, the biggest hurdle for me to overcome because I did not and do not pray like anybody that I saw growing up or anybody that was in my church up until about three or four years ago when we switched to a new church.
I remember wanting to grow in this area of my life and going to trainings and prayer groups at my church. I was constantly told that I needed to open my mouth and be louder because no one could hear me. There was a lot of “You got to do this.” Because that was the style of the church and denomination that I was in.
My old church was extremely extroverted. I am probably one of the most introverted introverts that I know, and I’m getting more introverted as I get older. I am never going to be that charismatic Pentecostal prayer warrior who’s yelling at the devil.
That might not ever be you either, and I just want you to know that’s fine because God made us differently. You just need to take some time to find your style of praying. What is it that feels good to you? How did God create you to talk to him and to pray for other people?
You don’t have to be loud, you don’t have to be flashy and showy. You just need to be yourself. If you’re not sure what that is, I would encourage you to look at how you interact with people in your real life every day, because that will give you a clue into how you can pray as well.
Struggling to be consistent with your quiet time with God? Learn how to connect with God and others as an introverted Christian woman so you can create a quiet time routine and plan that actually works with Introverted Faith.
Learning to Pray in Public Tip #2: Practice
The next thing that I want you to do is practice praying out loud at home. Now, I know you’re probably thinking, wait a minute didn’t you do an entire post on writing down your prayers so you don’t have to pray out loud? Yes, I did and I stand by all of that.
This is a different situation. You want to build your confidence in praying out loud and the best place to start is by praying out loud at home. Stand in front of a mirror, look at yourself, and pray. When you get comfortable praying out loud at home try to find a smaller group to pray in.
Maybe a small group or a Sunday school class or something that’s more than just you, but not a huge group. That might be super overwhelming. Start praying in that group and then you can, if you want to move to larger groups to start practicing. It’s like a muscle.
You’re going to build on it with light weights, and then as you get stronger, add some more weight. Practicing is going to help you, especially when you are trying to feel confident in the way that God made you to pray. Practice is the only thing that’s going to give you that confidence boost so you can find your nerve to start praying.
Learning to Pray in Public Tip #3: Write it Down
A quick tip when it comes to the words you’re going to say: write your prayers out first. I’m a huge proponent of writing down your prayers. If you tend to lose your words or flip and fumble over your tongue when you’re in a group because you’re nervous, just write out your prayers.
I won’t name any names, but there’s a leader at our church who I realized reads from paper during corporate prayer because they’ve taken the time to write out what they want to pray in front of the church. It’s not cheating.
Write it on a note, write it on an index card, write it on a post-it note, but just write it. And then when you want to pray, just read it. It’s still your words. You’re still talking to God and it’s still coming from your heart. You don’t have to come up on the spot with something to say if that’s not your jam.
Learning to Pray in Public Tip #4: Pray Scripture
The other thing is to pray scripture. Can I just tell you how awesome it is to not have to think of what to say? To be able to open up my Bible and just begin to pray the word of God. This has probably been the number one thing that grew my confidence in prayer in general.
When you’re in a group and you’re praying out loud in front of other people or you’re praying for somebody else, simply praying the word of God over people and in a group is awesome. It’s powerful and it is a great way to get over those nerves.
Learning to Pray in Public Bonus Tip
I promised that I was going to share something special that you can do, and this is what I did. After I found my prayer style, practiced, wrote out prayers at first, and prayed scripture, I wanted to take it up a notch. So I joined the prayer team at my church.
I know I threw myself into the fire, but here’s what’s awesome about that. It’s a small group. At any given time, I think I’ve maybe been in a group of 10 people and we’re all praying together. This is awesome because I don’t have to do all the praying.
We go around the room, everybody just takes turns talking to God about whatever’s on their heart. We also have prayer sheets that we get with our leaders and the events and our missionaries and requests from the congregation. All of those tools are right there making it easy to pray.
There is a lovely gentleman in our prayer team, he’s so sweet. He has such a heart for God and God’s people. Guess what? He never says a word. He does not pray out loud at all. But I know that he’s there praying with us, and it’s wonderful to see him in there every Sunday just being with us, supporting us, and praying with us.
Final Thoughts on Learning to Pray in Public
Find some way to throw yourself in with both feet if you can. Maybe it’s not a prayer team at your church, maybe it’s just something as simple as volunteering to pray over the prayer request for your small group on a Sunday or a Wednesday.
Try to find ways to put yourself out there because I have learned that introverted Christians are awesome at one-on-one conversations and going deep. The church needs people who are good at one-on-one to pray with people one-on-one, to sit with people one-on-one and listen and encourage because that’s going to help you pray better.
The church also needs people who can go deep. I’m not saying that if you’re not an introvert, you can’t go deep. Don’t put words in my mouth, but that’s part of the gift and the strength of introverted people. We have strong compassion, we have a strong sense of empathy, and those are powerful things when it comes to prayer.
I truly believe that the strength that we have of connecting with people one-on-one, of compassion, of empathy, and of being able to go deep with people is one reason why so many of us are terrified to pray with somebody other than just ourselves.
It’s a trick of the enemy to try to keep us from doing all the great things that God has put us on this planet to do. If you have been afraid to pray in front of other people, I hope that you will take my advice, and try some of these tips.
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Learning to pray in public doesn’t have to be overwhelming or scary.
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