The book of Acts gives us glimpses into the way the early church prayed corporately together. One of the reoccurring themes throughout the book of Acts (and in other New Testament passages) is the church praying out loud together. One instance is in Acts 4:24,
And when they had heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth and the sea, and all that in them is.
There is a sense of unity, power, and focus when a church prays out loud together. I’m afraid that we have structured all areas of our worship services to be an entertainment venue rather than a literal house of prayer, even in the most traditional of churches. For instance, we have special music that we watch someone else sing or times of prayer in which we sit quietly and listen to someone else pray. I’m convinced we need to be taught the early church principles of worship, and one being the fact that at times the church corporately prayed out loud together.
I’ve heard three reoccurring reasons as to why people don’t pray out loud:
- “I’m afraid of praying out loud.” – they fear what people might think of their prayers.
- “Doesn’t Jesus forbid praying out loud?” – they equate His condemnation of the Pharisees praying in public corners as a command not to pray aloud. Jesus wasn’t condemning their praying out loud, it was their hypocrisy and pride in how they prayed that was condemned.
- “I’m afraid Satan and his demons will hear me.” – So what?! To not pray out loud because Satan and his demons might hear you is to suggest that he and his forces have greater power than the One to Whom you are praying. We can go boldly, not sheepishly, before the throne of God because He is greater than our enemy. There is no need to whisper your prayers in fear of Satan. Christians in the Bible cried out to God in prayer!
Let me suggest a few practical helps that can encourage you as you endeavor to pray out loud in corporate times of prayer with our church.
→ PRACTICE PRAYING OUT LOUD WHEN YOU’RE ALONE.
I know you already talk to yourself when you’re alone! Now, start talking to God out loud when you’re alone. In your private “prayer closet” or when you’re driving down the road in the car by yourself. Get in the habit of praying out loud when by yourself. It will help you become more comfortable praying out loud when you are with others.
→ REFUSE TO COMPARE YOUR PRAYERS TO SOMEONE ELSE. BE YOURSELF.
You are talking to a friend when you pray. So, don’t religiously feel like you need to come up with this extensive vocabulary in order to keep up with the guy praying next to you. Be yourself, and talk to God the way the He made you to talk to Him. Just be yourself!
→ BRING YOUR PRAYER LIST WITH YOU DURING TIMES OF CORPORATE PRAYER. THIS WILL BE YOUR GUIDE.
It will help you know better what to pray, as you are praying, if you bring a list. This way you won’t get stuck in the “I don’t know what to pray about” mode.
→ WHEN YOU PRAY, FOCUS SOLELY ON THE THRONE OF GOD.
Even if there is a room full of hundreds of people, block it out. Visualize yourself in the throne room of God and it’s just you and Him. Don’t focus on the people around you…focus on the God before you.
→ WHEN FINISHED PRAYING, FINISH. YOU DON’T NEED TO KEEP UP WITH OTHERS WHO ARE STILL PRAYING.
In corporate settings where many are praying together there might be the temptation to keep up with the person praying next to you. Don’t do that!! When you are finished, finish. The danger of getting into vain repetitions come when you feel like you must keep up with everyone else or be someone else. Pray, and when you’re finished, finish.
There is something unique and powerful when a church corporately prays out loud together. I want to encourage some of you to take that next step in our times of church prayer, remembering that the early church experienced great power from on high when they lifted up their voice (prayed out loud) with one accord (together).