Praying in public can be terrifying for people. I remember feeling this way when I first became a church worker. I was frequently asked to pray in public and didn’t feel comfortable doing it at first. I could pray on my own just fine, but when others were counting on coherent words coming from my mouth, well…
Sometimes the hard part about praying out loud is feeling like you have to live up to the expectations of others. Are your words good enough? While some may judge our words, this is largely our problem. When we focus on what others think about our words, it takes our focus off God.
But at other times, the difficulty with praying out loud is that you just don’t know what to say. The prayer is so personal, the struggle so deep, that translating the cry of your heart into human words is almost impossible. Maybe your prayer can’t be expressed in human words.
When you find yourself in this situation, there’s good news! The Holy Spirit is right there, praying along side you on your behalf! Paul writes:
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27
When you’re struggling to put your prayers into words, maybe it’s time to shift from praying in words, to praying with the heart. Invite the Holy Spirit to come alongside you in those times and groan on your behalf.