Praying in public is a risky thing to do if you have never been taught to pray in public. It’s like public speaking. Everyone is expected to know how to do it, but we never get taught the basic theory like in essay writing. In church the same mistake is done. We are expected to pray well in public as if it’s a part of God’s grace. No. Praying is a skill you learn, and we need a theoretical bases to do it well. Praying in private has the benefit that you can make mistakes without other people’s judgement. God is the only one that listens to them. When praying in public there are these pressures from other people because of the different “praying styles” that exist. I think that praying in public is a performance: it’s the best version of your private prayer. It might even be fake. It’s improvised, for the most part. Children probably read their prayers… their parent’s prayers. I did once.
When I was an adolescent, I quickly learned that without the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, you will be shamed for praying for someone else in the context of a moment of ministry. I felt that I shouldn’t pray in public because I had no idea what I was doing and I couldn’t speak in tongues. I learned to no come forward during those moments. When I thought about this yesterday, I thanked God that I was a musician because musicians don’t ever really have to deal with praying in public or ministering to people. We have other problems to deal with that exempts us from this dilemma.
There are times when I do have to deal with it, like in a prayer circle. When I have gone with the Youth Group in my church to a hospital in PR to do evangelism I am the person that gets called to pray when the patient doesn’t know Spanish. It’s not because I am awesome at praying to God so someone can have health, but because I am one of the best English speakers in the group. After the first time I prayed in English, some of the members of the group commented that I have more unction (google translate stated this is the translation of the word unción) when praying in English than in Spanish. Go figure.
I as an adult that have been a member of my church for 11 years still have a low self-efficacy when it comes to praying in public. There is no real right way to pray in public. Just an acceptable way of doing so… which isn’t my style. That sucks for me!