In 2012, researchers at the University of Nebraska-Omaha asked 815 college students to identify their three greatest fears. Far more than they feared heights, flying, deep water and even death, the students feared “speaking before a group.” If public speaking is the general population’s greatest fear, praying in public very well may be its Christian equivalent.
Overcoming Your Fear of Praying in Public
So how can we waive our reluctance and make the effort to pray aloud? Here are a few simple bullets to get you started:
1. Pray for God’s help.
When you know you will have an opportunity to lead others in prayer, pray ahead of time that God would give you the ability to do it clearly and helpfully.
2. Resolve to pray.
Unless you intend to pray, you likely never will. The silent gaps at prayer meeting will quickly slip away, and your hesitation will pass the privilege to someone else. Instead, determine beforehand that you will pray aloud if given the chance.
3. Consider what you will pray.
Think beforehand about what thanksgiving, what confession or what request is the concern of the group. Remember, you are expressing what you hope to be the united desire of everyone.
4. Consider how you will pray.
Search God’s word to see what confidence you have in offering that particular prayer. Does God promise to give his Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13)? Then pray boldly, bringing his command before his throne.
5. Remember that Jesus is praying too.
In corporate prayer, we have the assurance of Christ’s presence (Matthew 18:20). A Christian never—never!—prays alone.
6. Just pray.
John Owen memorably said that “the prayers of the [weakest] saints may be useful to the greatest apostle.” We serve a God who hears the prayers of widows and orphans, who welcomes the hosannas of little children, and who uses them all to accomplish his great purposes.
Brothers and sisters, let us pray (even praying in public).