There is a large extent to which I used to have issues with praying out loud. To me, prayer was (and still is) between God and me, and there was little point in sharing that moment with others. On the contrary, it seemed to me that, in praying out loud, I was more trying to conform to my small group’s expectations: that I was praying in order to be seen to be praying.

Matthew 6:5-6 is of little comfort there:

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (ESV)

And yet we have prayer meetings, pray out loud, whether in church or in small groups. Here’s some reasons why:

1. The prayer flows more naturally, and has a more natural close. Speaking the prayer forces your mind to slow down and be fully concentrated on the prayer.

2. It helps build others up.

3. It brings discipline in your own prayer practice. If only because you arrange to pray with others regularly.

4. It brings accountability to your prayer practice. People remember what you pray for, and will ask you how that went. You will know when to push through with prayer.

5. “Praying for” something or someone is vague. With other people praying with you, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, more aspects will be covered.

These reasons have helped me appreciate corporate prayer and rid me of the feeling that I complied with the practice as a hypocrite. Praying with others for the sake of being seen praying is, obviously, wrong. Praying is not a tickbox on a behavioural list.

But if you are in that place where you are ┬ánot sure why you say some of your prayers, push through – it will end up making your prayer life much richer.