“Praying is just so hard.”
“I always lose my focus.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
As a child of God there are times when praying is easy. There are also times, perhaps, when it’s not.
In The Up Devotional I often provide you with ideas that I think are practical and down-to-earth. They are intended to move you forward in faith.
One of them is to pray out loud.
In a lecture about the (much misunderstood) Puritans, Dr. J.I. Packer explained that as far as he could discover everyone prayed out loud until the 18th century. After that, and year by year, more and more people started praying silently in their heads.
He explained the benefits of praying out loud like this: “If you’ve ever tried it, when you pray aloud—or, at least, lip your prayers so that you’re forming the words—it does help you to remember that you are talking to a real God. Whereas if you are simply forming the words in your mind with no physical motion, it is that much easier to dream away.”*
I can confirm this in my own experience. When I’m alone I don’t always pray out loud. There aren’t hard and fast rules about these things. But when I’m struggling, or when my thoughts are wandering, I shift my mental posture and start to talk to God out loud. As a result, I instantly remember that I am in fact talking to a real and almighty God!
There is an important connection between prayer and alertness, one which Paul makes in Ephesians 6:18: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
If you’re struggling in prayer, or if your mind is prone to wandering like a balloon in the wind, maybe you would find it helpful to start praying out loud.
–Bible quotes are from the NIV.
–*This quote is from a lecture called “The Puritan Identity—01.” It was delivered by J.I. Packer in a course entitled The English Puritans. I don’t know the exact date of the class, but an undated audio version was provided by The Reformed Theological Seminary and accessed through Google Podcasts on April 9, 2021.