There will always be moments when we Christians will find ourselves praying in public. Praying in public can cover many different circumstances. It may be praying for a stranger while having a fellow Christian with you, for a fellow brother or sister on Christ’s birthday at their party, during a prayer meeting where other Christians agree with you in prayer, etc.
If we want to pray well in public, the best thing we can do is pray the best way we can, which means praying according to His will by reading and meditating on His Word. Even if you are praying in public, it’s not that different than how you pray to God when alone, simply because when you pray in public, you still communicate with God regardless of what you are praying for.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
How can I get better at public prayer?
As mentioned before, praying in public is similar to praying alone. It is us talking to God whether we pray for blessings upon a person, in thanksgiving, as worship, or for any reason. Praying in public is still an intimate conversation with our heavenly Father, not an oratory where it is all about elaborate skills. However, we should still strive to make our prayers understandable to those who are listening.
If we want to pray better, whether alone or in public, we must be aligned with God. Praying in alignment with God means praying according to His will. We can pray according to His will if we consistently read and meditate on His Word. It is how the Holy Spirit renews our minds.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
[1 John 5:14-15]
Even if we don’t have a Bible in front of us, we can pray acceptable and pleasing prayers in the sight of God because we are praying out of a renewed mind that aligns with God’s will.
What did Jesus say about praying in public?
Praying in public has always been an issue for Christians; we wonder whether it is something we should do or not. The go-to text when it comes to that topic is Matthew 6:5-6, where Jesus specifically addressed the hypocrites who were displaying their righteousness in front of other people—praying publicly to show how righteous they were and intentionally praying in synagogues and street corners to be seen.
Jesus said that we are to pray in secret because God sees the prayer we say in secret and will reward us. However, before we conclude that praying in public is wrong, we should examine what Jesus was trying to address. Jesus was not directly speaking about publicly praying but rather the heart behind it. Hypocrites prayed in synagogues and street corners because they wanted to be seen and impress people. In other words, the issue here is not really whether to pray publicly but more about the state of your heart as you pray in front of people.
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
There is nothing wrong with praying in public as long as we ensure that our motivation behind it is to minister and talk to God and not to impress others. In the books of Acts, we see Christians gathering together and devoting themselves to prayer. They are already praying in public because they are not alone in their rooms.
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
How do I get over my fear of praying in public?
Praying in public can initially feel overwhelming because other people are listening to the prayers you pray. However, it shouldn’t be this way. We pray not for others to hear but to communicate with God. Prayer, even when done in public, is a matter between you and God. What other Christians do is agree with you in prayer.
You can get over your fear of praying in public by always keeping in mind that you are praying only for an audience of One, which is God. It is God we are ultimately serving. We pray publicly, whatever those circumstances may be, for the glory of God. We work heartily not for men but for God alone.
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Heavenly Father, You are the God Who hears all our prayers because You have given us access to Your throne of grace in Christ. Give me the grace to always have the right heart and motivation whenever I pray in public. Help me to always pray with a renewed mind. I thank You because such a mind is mine in Christ Jesus. Remind me that it is You alone I am talking to whenever I am praying in public and that I am working heartily for You and not for men. Use me as a blessing to those I pray for. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Another motivation that we have whenever we pray in public is love. We pray out of love and the intention to serve and be a blessing. Praying in public is something we should not be afraid of doing but rather be excited about. The only thing we must check from time to time is our heart, being certain that we aren’t praying publicly to show off to others.