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All of us have been faced with a situation where someone had a critical need for prayer and because we were in public or some other secular setting, we were too timid to step up and bring that need to God. In other cases we are in a private setting with someone who may not be a Christian, but has shared with us a serious problem.

Praying with (or for) a non Christian is the same as praying elsewhere in public; i.e. outside a Christian Church or other Christian gathering. Praying in public can be as simple as saying grace over a meal at a restaurant or standing on a street corner and preaching or praying for other non-Christians.

All that is needed is a willing heart and overcoming your fear (what if nothing happens?) and pray anyway. What other people think is not relevant, only what God thinks. Other people’s opinion of your “praying loud in public” is secondary to God’s admonition to pray for one another. James (5:16)

Ask for Permission to Pray

We know that the Word says we are not to lay hands on someone suddenly (1 Tim 5:22). The context of this admonition is in a message on conduct of elders. Laying hands on someone, praying for them, in haste might not be a good idea. Listen first, help them forgive (so their prayer can be answered) and get to the heart of the matter first. Then pray if they give you permission. Remember the 5 magic words. “May I pray for you?” If the answer isn’t “yes” then don’t do it!

If you don’t know the state of the person’s salvation this is a good opportunity to ask them if they have ever accepted Jesus as their personal savior. You can address their eternal life and also the immediate problem which is befalling them at this time. It is also an opportunity to invite them to church where there are others that will pray for them.

Overcoming Fear

How about fear? Let us consider the words of Jesus in Matt 10:32-33: “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”  It can be argued that in failing to confess Him in a public situation (to pray) when the Spirit would have us do so might not be a good thing in Jesus’ judgment. Just saying.

Now let’s address the fear we all have of speaking in public. I remember in college when I had to make a presentation and I was really apprehensive. A friend of mine who frequently gave speeches counseled me:  Larry, everyone gets butterflies, the trick is to make them fly in formation!

I wondered what that meant. Later I realized that while thinking about the impossibility of making butterflies fly in formation, you aren’t thinking about being nervous. Everyone is nervous, we all want to a good job. As Christians we want to help the person we are going to pray for. Our worry is what it our prayer doesn’t work? What if the person we are praying for thinks we are fakes, or worse…flakes? Addressing that concern, remember: it’s our job to pray, it’s God’s job to answer. Concerning yourself with the “what ifs” is thinking about yourself instead of thinking about the other person who needs the prayer. It’s not about you!

Overcoming Embarrassment

We could change Jesus’ words to be Whoever is embarrassed to confess me before men I will be embarrassed to mention them to my Father in Heaven.” We must ask ourselves is being embarrassed to confess Jesus, the same as denying Him? I think yes.

Men, if you were in a public situation with your wife and failed to introduce her as your wife, instead pretending she was not there, would she be favorably disposed to you? No, you would be in the big time “dog house.” In her eyes you just denied her place as your wife, as the most important person in your life! Trouble in capital words! What is the difference in ignoring the existence of your wife and ignoring the existence of Jesus? It’s wrong either way.

In closing, let’s remember that we work for the God of the Universe and He is just waiting for us to praise Him and acknowledge Him as our God, and Jesus as our Lord and savior. Let’s not let embarrassment or timidity get in the way of doing what is right in the eyes of God.  If someone has a need and they give you permission to pray for them, do it.

You can learn more about Larry at And, enjoy his books about Church organization and volunteer workers in church.  You can also join his blog and ask questions.

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