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On Praying Out Loud

We learn a lot about prayer from the psalms and, if we apply what we observe, we might find a new vitality in our own times of prayer. Let’s take a look at just one thing that might make a big difference for us.

Some of the psalms talk about prayers in the night when all is quiet, and the psalmist can’t sleep. Some of us might identify with this kind of prayer:

“On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.” – Psalm 63:6

These are silent prayers in our minds and, often, from the depths of our hearts.

Others of the psalm writers’ prayers are not so quiet. Instead, they speak of crying out to God, pleading with him, and they show the desperation of the writer, the weariness with waiting, and vocal petitioning of God who hears their prayers. Here are some examples:

“I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” – Psalm 57:2

“I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.” – Psalm 69:3

“I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me.”- Psalm 77:1

“With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.” – Psalm 142:1

Do you pray that way? We might pray out loud when we’re praying with another person or in a prayer meeting, but what about when we’re one-on-one with God? I think many of us pray silently at those times, and we know God hears those prayers. He knows our thoughts, and, we always have the added benefit of the Holy Spirit translating our prayers and carrying them to God the Father on our behalf (Romans 8:27). One advantage of heart/mind prayers is that they provide a way communicating with our Father in heaven even while we’re walking down the street or sitting in a meeting. Silent prayers are perfectly OK with God.

But there are times when it might be good for us if we pray out loud. I think God loves to hear our voices as much as we love to hear his. And, guess who else is listening? Satan can’t read our thought prayers, but he can hear our vocalized prayers. I think it makes him shake in his boots to hear us giving ourselves and our problems to God.

There’s another reason, though, to give voice to our prayers: When we speak aloud, we think more clearly about our words, and our minds don’t wander as they often do when we are praying silently (we all have that problem). As we listen in on our own prayers and one expression flows into another, we begin to recognize what’s in our hearts.

A friend of mine who, at one time in his career, had a long commute to work, said he used to imagine Jesus sitting in the passenger seat of his car as he pulled out of the driveway. He would talk out loud to Jesus most of the way to work, sharing his stresses, praying for his wife, and committing the day into the all-powerful hands of his divine passenger.

If you don’t already practice praying out loud, I challenge you to try it. It just may put new energy into your prayers as you begin to discover prayer as a genuine, heartfelt conversation like one you might have with a friend. Only this conversation makes a bigger difference!


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