The Surprising Truth About Praying Out Loud

Whitney Johnson | July 6, 2016

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Of all the prayers I said as a teen, there’s one in particular that I remember best. It was a prayer I said out loud.

I was sixteen.

I’d had a boyfriend, Bob, that I really, really liked. When my mother strong-armed me into breaking up with him, I liked him even more.

One summer night, during a sleepover with friends, I found out that Bob was now dating my best friend. I was devastated. I went outside and took a walk. I looked up into the nighttime sky, bursting with anger and hurt, and yelled, “This had better be worth it!” Now, this might not sound like a prayer to you, but I promise you it was an authentic communication between a teenager and her loving Heavenly parent.

Studies conducted on the brains of people while they pray out loud show increased activity in the same part of the brain that activates during conversation. When I speak aloud to Heavenly Father, it’s like having a conversation with a friend, which binds us together in a way that THINKING a prayer TO Him doesn’t. Also, speaking aloud creates a distinct memory of a moment, which, again, thinking does not.

After a lifetime of praying silently, I’ve started to pray out loud—because I want to be closer to God.

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Here’s what’s pretty neat:

I have a genuine fear of calling friends to say ‘Hi’. When I call, I feel really vulnerable, even if it’s my friend Kathleen who I’ve known since I was 3. I think to myself, ‘Will I interrupt her? Annoy her? Will she make faces at me? And, what do I even say? How will get off of the phone when I’m finished talking? Is it needy or ridiculous to call just to talk?’

So I rarely do it.

But since I’ve started speaking aloud to Heavenly Father, it has gotten easier. As I talk to Him out loud, I’m able to feel more of who I am – a greater sense of self. This makes me braver than before. Recently, I wanted to call Kathleen. I didn’t dismiss the inclination. Well, I did—I thought twice, but then I called her. And, I’m pretty sure she didn’t make faces.

Sound waves have physical properties. When we talk out loud, our words have a three-dimensional reality. A prayer said aloud comes alive. The composer Richard Strauss, who brought us the Viennese Waltz, said, “The human voice is the most beautiful instrument of all, but it is the most difficult to play.”

Praying aloud creates a memory with God and binds me to Him in a way that just thinking to Him doesn't. Imagine the community—the shared unity—we create when we pray out loud with our families, our loved ones, our congregation.

I pray aloud in church, but I’m far too perfunctory. What might happen if my prayers, and your prayers, really reflected our belief that collective faith and unified hearts can bring the powers of Heaven to our aid?

I want to create memories with my friends and family and with God. I want to be one with them and Him. I know you do too.

This means we have to get out of our comfort zones and be vulnerable. It’s not easy to speak out loud to someone we can’t see. To the unbelieving eye it could look like we are talking to ourselves –that we are a little cuckoo. And yet, when you talk to Him out loud, you won’t just know you are a daughter of God, you will believe it. He will become Velveteen-rabbit real to you. And your words, said aloud to Him who loves you, will be music to His ears and a memory you BOTH will cherish.