There is a great deal of uncertainty in the Christian faith about how to pray. We all want our prayers to be answered and of course we expect God to hear us. However can prayers be effective if we simply think them or should they be spoken out loud?
The disciples asked Jesus how they should pray. In Matthew 6:7 Jesus says "don't babble on and on as people of other religions do". I believe that 'babbling' refers to the spoken word, what do you think?
Jesus goes on to say "They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Jesus then says to the disciples "Pray like this...";
Our Father in heaven
May your name be kept holy
May your kingdom come soon
May your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us today the food we need
And forgive us our sins
As we have forgiven those who sin against us
And don't let us not yield to temptation
But rescue us from the evil one (NLT)
In Joshua 1:8 NIV he says:
Study this book of instruction continually, meditate on it night and day (meditate: to think!)
Keep this book of the law always on your lips; meditate on a day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you'll be prosperous and successful.
Keep this book of the law always on your lips = speak it out
Meditate on a night and day = think about it
Going back to the beginning, as in the Bible book of Genesis, look how many times God spoke::
1:3 And God then said let there be light
1:6 and God said,
1:8 God called,
1:9 and God said,
1:11 then God said,
1:14 and God said,
1:20 and God said,
1:22 and God blessed them and said:
1:24 and God said,
1:26 then God said:,
1:28 God bless them and said to them:,
1:29 then God said.
There are 12 references to God "saying".
Our world and the universe was brought into being by God speaking, not thinking. It does not say God thought the world into being!
For example; say someone really upsets you and you thought something bad about them. How would you differentiate that bad thought compared to a good thought or prayer. What would or should happen?
I agree, God knows every our every thought, however, the Scripture says we are accountable for everything we 'say' (Matthew 12:36).
I have heard people say that silent prayer is just as valid, but I personally do not believe this to be so. I believe that this is based upon the doctrine that God is sovereign and therefore can do anything he pleases. Yes he is sovereign and can do anything. However, in this case one is assuming that God will differentiate between a good thought, a bad thought and a prayer request and then act on the prayer request.
This would mean that we have no responsibility for anything we think, say or do. It also means that we don't have freewill. It would add an enormous question about wars, murders, hate and selfishness and so on. Who would be responsible for that - God?
If God is love then the argument for God inciting a war or any other outcome based upon a persons thought would be wrong. I believe it is religious nonsense encouraged by shy Christians and instigated by the enemy (Satan) to keep Christians quiet.
There is no supporting scripture to support silent prayer. Every person in the Bible is either recorded as "saying" when praying. James 3:1–12 says that how can blessings and curses come out of the same mouth. And that a tongue can start the fire and tat the tongue is evil and full of deadly poison.
It is what is "said" that has an impact on our prayer life. We also told to "speak" in tongues not think in tongues.
It is because words are things that this area is so important.
The Hebrew for "word" and "thing" are the same - Davar. Words are therefore things in the same way and similar to that of seeds that are planted,. Seeds take root and grow and so do words that are spoken. Either to individuals or in prayer. Which is why James refers to the tongue acting like a spark and creating a forest fire.
In Samuel 3:17 KJV Samuel says to Saul what is the "thing" that the Lord has said.
All these references cannot be misconstrued as silent prayer being just as effective as spoken prayer.
After Jesus' ressurection, he met Peter and some other disciples after they had finished fishing. Jesus was cooking breakfast on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Note: Peter had denied Jesus three times after Jesus was arrested. Jesus said to Peter "before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.
After they had eaten Jesus said to Peter "Do you love me" and Peter replied, "yes". Jesus asked Peter a further two times and each time he replied he did love Jesus.
This clearly illustrates to me that Jesus was 'undoing' what Peter had done, i.e. Peter created a chasm between himself and Jesus by denying him. By recanting three times on the sea shore meant that Jesus was able to 'undo' the problem.
There are many popular quotations available on the internet and the one below is such a quote:
"God is the best listener. You don't need to shout nor cry out loud because He hears even the very silent prayer of a sincere heart."
It seems inoffensive enough, however, there are hundreds of images with this quotation (See Google) on it which gets shared around the internet on an almost continuous basis. BUT IT IS NOT FROM THE BIBLE.
NOTE: God does hear and knows what we're thinking, but he does not act on it. We have a part to play which is to say our prayers out loud. I am saying that sitting at home or in church "in silence" is ineffective and not what God wants us to do.
I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!
One last thing for you to consider; who would want your prayer life to be totally ineffective? Satan! He is the only one who would want to keep you quiet. So start praying out loud at every opportunity, in the shower, in the car, walking to work, everywhere.
The more you pray and proclaim the name of Jesus out loud, you are scoring a goal for the team. Keep it up. Be relentless. Don't give the enemy an inch.
Know that you are blessed by God - Amen!