“Would anyone want to open in prayer?” I was usually the first one to tuck my head and earnestly pray “please, God, oh please don’t let them pick me!”
This went on for a very long time, and I would be lying if I told you I am much more comfortable with praying in front of others now. It still makes my heart race, hands sweat and my stomach in teeny knots … but I am trying really hard to overcome this by praying in public more and more.
I shared with my husband a while ago how nervous I get when I pray in front of people and he said to me “Aisha, no one is judging the way you pray, do you judge others when they pray?”and I said “definitely not, but if they pray a good prayer, I think to myself ‘dang, that was really good, I need to memorize that line for the next group I am in!’ ” … I wish that was a joke, but it isn’t haha!
One of my absolute favorite things to do is being on my knees in the presence of our Holy God and praying to Him … just me and Him! These moments I get to speak with Him are very personal and intimate, and it feels so right to be in His presence, every single time. I love getting prayer requests from family, friends or strangers … it is such a privilege of mine to pray for them and it makes my heart so happy to do so. But when there are other ears that are listening, all of a sudden I feel like a performer, my mind goes absolutely blank and all I hear coming out of my mouth is “um” 50 times and “Lord” about a 100 times.
I’ve gotten much better at praying in public and I actually try to initiate it more so now than ever before, but I am still not that comfortable with it. I know I can’t be the only one that is struggling with this (or maybe I am haha) so I thought I would share how to overcome the fear of praying in public for both you and I.
1- Keep it short and simple
Why do we think our prayers need to be so eloquent? Prayer requires absolutely no great skill for it to be effective. God hears the prayers of that 5 year old just as much as he hears the prayers of an 80 year old pastor. Our prayers don’t need to be eloquent in order for Him to bless us or draw us near to Him … they can have as many “ums” in there and He will still hear them.
2- Pray silently in advance of the public session
I have been doing this prior to any public gatherings that might require praying publicly and it has helped me tremendously. I spend about 10-15 minutes asking God to direct my mind and my heart to Him and away from myself. I believe the more we do this, the more we become concerned on what God thinks of us vs. what other’s think of us.
3- Accept that you don’t have to pray like others
Everyone has their own style of praying – some are very poetic, some use prayers and verses from the Bible as they pray and others are more conversational …. I fall in the latter category. For some odd reason, I had this expectation that prayer needed to sound beautiful and more poetic …. it was so silly to think that. When I accepted that my prayers are more conversational and that I didn’t have to pray the way others did, it became much easier to pray in public.
4- Practice by praying out loud when you’re alone
Try and pray out loud throughout the day – I pray in my car, while cooking, while cleaning the house, etc. I believe the more we practice talking out loud to God throughout our days it becomes much easier to do it in public. Stop whatever you are doing right now and try it. Tell God something you know to be true about Him and thank Him for it out loud … I will do it with you as well 🙂
5- Ask God to remove the fear
I have made it a habit to ask God to remove this fear from me because it is not from Him. There’s such power and beauty when brothers and sisters-in-Christ come together and pray for one another in the name of Jesus, and I want to be able to do that fearlessly because God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
And always remember, even if you can’t find the words, the Holy Spirit will always prompt you.
Do any of you fear praying in public? if yes, I would love to hear ways you are trying to overcome them.