In our Sunday service, we have a time called “Unison Prayer”, which is a moment of praying “out loud” together. So let me explain why it is important to do so.
Prayer is the foundational way to build relationship with God, and there are many styles of prayer. Many people like to pray silently because it fits their personalities and is comfortable to them. There are times when praying silently is appropriate. For example, when you need to be considerate to people around you or need to make a quick “shooting prayer” to God for help. Moreover, quieting ourselves to listen to what God is saying is a crucial part of prayer.
But I do believe that there are times when it is appropriate to pray out loud, and one of those times is when we gather as a Church to worship. These are the reasons why.
First, praying out loud helps you to be focused on prayer. When I pray silently, many times I find myself busy fighting off many thoughts that come and go. On the contrary, when I actually move my lips and tongues to pray, I usually become less distracted. Some people say they get more distracted when they can hear other peoples’ prayer, but as you learn to consciously speak out your prayer, soon you find yourself listening to others’ prayer less and hear your prayer more.
Secondly, praying out loud is often followed by “spiritual breakthrough”. This was the main way the early church prayed. The bible records that early Christians purposely gathered in one place, praying in “one accord” (Acts 1:14) and “raising their voices” (Acts 4:24). And when as they did that, it brought spiritual breakthrough. (e.g., Holy Spirit experience, Speaking in Tongues, fear lifted, courage restored…)
Thirdly, it helps us to overcome “fear of man”. Some Christians pray only silently because they feel embarrassed to be heard praying. However, without being free from this timidity, it is difficult to grow in courage and boldness which we need to reach out to the lost.
Just as we have to adjust how we talk in different situations, we need to do the same with God. But I think learning to pray out loud is the beginning of a fruitful prayer life. Once you are comfortable praying out loud, then you will feel prepared to move into contemplation prayer, silent prayer and whichever prayer style the situation calls for.