According to glossophobia.com as many as 75% of people have glossophobia. What is glossophobia, you ask? It is the fear of public speaking, which according to these statistics means that 3 out of 4 of you reading this post know exactly what glossophobia is all about even if you may have not known the term for it.
Now, add praying in public on top of the fear of public speaking and you may have a heart attack – right? Most of us whom are horrified at the prospect of public speaking can avoid it for the most part, but public prayer, not so much. If you are in a church-like setting anyone at any time may call upon you to pray over anything without any notice.
I am even caught off guard sometimes when someone calls on me to pray unexpectedly. There are a few things I like to do when this happens, and I thought I may share my strategy with you to help you prepare a well-rounded prayer on the fly. When you have a strategy, you will less likely be overwhelmed by the thought of praying publicly.
1. Create a standard prayer starter, and use it consistently. I have a standard introduction to prayer that I use every time I pray publicly. I am able to change it up a little bit at the end to fit the occasion. It goes like this:
“Heavenly Father, we come before you today/tonight with thanksgiving and praise, exalting Your Son Jesus, the Lover of our Souls”
The ending is what I may change up based upon the prayer’s focus.
If the prayer is for peace, I might say, “…exalting Your Son, Jesus, the Prince of Peace.”
If the prayer is for healing, I might say, “…exalting Your Son, Jesus, our Great Physician.”
You get the picture. When I cannot think of a divine title to use, I just cut it off at “exalting Your Son Jesus.”
Having a lengthy introduction in prayer, helps me to get started and buys me time to think about the next thing I want to pray.
2. Think “three things”. What are 3 things that you can petition the Lord for during this prayer?
I was once unexpectedly called upon to pray for our upcoming Vacation Bible School during service. Since I have my standard prayer starter, I was then able to think quickly about what 3 things I would like to pray about. I thought about the people involved in this ministry initiative and what our goals were, which gave me these 3 prayer points:
A. The VBS Workers – I prayed that they would have a great week as they prepared to teach our children. I prayed that their week would be less hectic so they would be able to get to church nightly less frazzled. I prayed they would be steadfast and faithful in their attendance and commitment to excellence in carrying out their responsibilities.
B. The Children – I prayed that God would bring children and families from the north, south, east and west. I prayed that they would come ready to learn about Jesus. I also prayed that they would be able to make it every night.
C. Salvation and Impact – I prayed that at the end of the week peoples’ lives would be changed. I prayed that seeds would be planted in good ground. I prayed that those who needed Jesus would receive Him as Savior that week.
As you can see, I prayed about 3 things per the “3 things”, but that is not necessary. You can pray one or two sentences for each of your 3 prayer points. See how natural and logical my prayer points were?
If you are blessing food:
A. Bless the ones who prepared the meal
B. Give thanks for the food, and ask that it may nourish your bodies (pretty standard)
C. Pray also for the comfort of fellowship of God’s people while you spend that particular meal time together. (or something similar)
If you can only come up with 2 prayer points, then go with those 2 things that come to mind. The point is to just be yourself and pray about things practically. Over time, you will be able to feel more God-led in your prayers.
3. Close out your prayer with giving glory to God. In the end, we want to glorify God and pray that His perfect will be done. Something simple like this will do:
“In all this, Lord, we ask that Your will be done, and that You be glorified. In Jesus name, Amen.”
In essence, you have 5 parts to your public prayer:
I. Prayer Opener
II. Prayer Point 1
III. Prayer Point 2
IV. Prayer Point 3
V. Prayer Closing
Here are some other things you can do to help you prepare for praying in public:
1. Practice praying aloud. Pay attention to opportunities given to others, and when you get home think through how you might have prayed that prayer. Praying out loud will make you feel even more comfortable when your time comes to pray publicly.
2. Read your Bible. The more you know God’s Word, the more you know God. The more you know God, the more easily you can talk to Him. Remember, prayer is only a conversation with God when you get right down to it. Studying God’s Word will also give you words to pray and will insure that what you pray is scripturally correct. Recently, I heard someone pray something unscriptural like this, “Lord, we all know that this life is a trial run; help us to do our best.” Uh, no, this life is NOT a trial run!!! You do not want to make random statements like this to use as fillers in your prayer, especially unscriptural ones.
3. Volunteer in smaller settings. Pray at home over dinner instead of always letting your kids do it. Pray at other family get-togethers. Volunteer to pray during your small group time.
Learning to pray publicly is a noble task. It is God-honoring and will mature you spiritually. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it’s worth the discomfort.
If you have overcome your anxiety for praying publicly, and have some good tips to share, I would love for you to in my comments section below. Thanks!
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Award-winning author Gina Duke is a wife, mom and the Director of Women’s Ministry at her local church. With a B.S. in Organizational Leadership, she is able to bring a clear word for authentic Christian living. Through her book, “Organizing Your Prayer Closet: A New and Life-Changing Way to Pray” (Abingdon Press), she imparts 1 Peter 4:7 with the gift of structured prayer journaling. If you would like to schedule Gina to speak on prayer or host a prayer journaling workshop, click here for more information. You may also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @TheGinaDuke.
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