We are in the midst of our annual month of prayer for the church. Congregational prayer meetings are intimate experiences, because you find yourself praying about personal things – things that really matter. This is true even if you pray silently and the only one who hears is God. However, when you pray aloud, everyone hears, so it also becomes a time of sharing for those who care to do so – opening a small window onto your soul.
The thing is, vocalized public prayers are always crafted for other people to hear, so they are never entirely honest. Perhaps that is why Jesus taught us to pray secretly, where only God can hear. But public prayer is an attempt at honesty, and the attempt is good for the soul, and good for the church.
As a young Christian, I learned to always pray aloud at least once in a prayer meeting, or share something during every opportunity for public testimony. It reminds me that I am not there only for myself, but for others, too.
Practicing “public prayer” is most beneficial to ourselves, though. When it sounds different than our private prayer, the misalignment reveals something of ourselves we might not otherwise discover.