As a person who didn't start a personal relationship with Jesus until I was 23 (my testimony), I know that one big hurdle to get over is feeling comfortable when praying aloud in groups. Really, this took me A LONG time to get comfortable doing. A couple of years ago (the same time I read the Bible in 90 days), I challenged myself to start volunteering to pray aloud when out with girlfriends for meals or even when asked in a women's study if anyone wanted to close in prayer. Yes, I felt super self-conscious at first but the more and more I prayed aloud, the more comfortable that I felt. Just like anything else, praying takes practice!
The most important lesson that I learned was the need to remember that I was really praying for an audience of one and the one who would not judge me but extend His grace and love as I tried to communicate in my less than eloquent ways to Him, my Father in heaven. Now, I love praying aloud and my favorite time of the week is when I gather at my children's school on Wednesday mornings for a prayer time with fellow moms. Oh, what I would have missed out on if I had let my self-consciousness keep me from this treasured time. Trust me when I tell you that I still stumble over my words from time to time and it really doesn't matter one bit because my heart is in the right place and that is all that anyone you pray with would really care about anyways.
Since, my children are growing up in the faith, my husband and I have the chance to encourage their walk and prayer life starting at an early age. We've found a great way to encourage them to pray aloud at the dinner table. After we do our family devotional using Our 24 Family Ways, we participate in a "popcorn prayer". Basically, one of us starts the prayer and each person takes a turn praying aloud. We have prayed over several different topics like just praising God for who He is, praying for another family or person (Haley prayed for two children she has learned about who are orphans in South America) and giving God our gratitude. These have turned out to be such sweet times for our family and it really takes the pressure off anyone who is not completely comfortable praying out loud.
I hope this encourages anyone struggling in this area to know that you are not alone! Just like I tell my beginner golf students not to feel bad because every great golfer was once a beginner, perhaps the same is true even in our prayer life and walk with God!
I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time-waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.
God bless you on the journey!