Polly Prayerless: The Person Who Won't Pray Aloud

How to make your members feel comfortable praying out loud.

Polly Prayerless contributes well to the group, but she simply won't pray aloud. In fact, before the first meeting she warned you that she wasn't one to pray in a group. There could be several reasons for this reluctance. Understanding them will help you encourage a person like Polly.

Praying aloud is new for many people, especially for new Christians. It's scary to hear your own voice talking to God. If your group includes new Christians or people whose religious tradition doesn't include audible prayer, be gentle and patient with them.

Others feel intimidated. Like Moses in Exodus 4:10, some feel that they're not eloquent enough to speak to God. They feel "slow of speech and tongue." This is particularly true when others in your group are eloquent and effortlessly pray on and on in the King's English. It's also common when there are wide educational differences among members of your group.

Some people are just naturally shy. It's not that they have anything against prayer. It's that they don't like talking aloud to anyone. They weigh every word and measure every sentence, but always feel they've come up short.

The key to handling any reluctant pray-er is sensitivity. We need to put ourselves in their shoes and not pressure them. What are some ways of doing this?

Let everyone know that they're under no compulsion to pray aloud. Before the first few prayer times, specifically state that you understand not everyone is comfortable with praying audibly. Affirm that their silent prayers are as effective as audible prayers, but that when they feel comfortable, they're welcome to join in. Assume that by the end of the group even Polly will be comfortable enough to pray aloud.

Encourage short sentence prayers. If you feel Polly is intimidated ...

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