Many, many people do.
That's partly because we view it as a form of pubic speaking - and public speaking tends to make people verrry nervous. I should know - I teach public speaking to college students. And I force back my own feelings of panic to do it myself around the country through out the year.
A survey conducted in 1973 asked more than 2,500 Americans to list their greatest fears. To the surprise of the researchers, the largest number of people listed speaking before a group as their #1 fear. Even above death!
In a more recent study, researchers concentrated on social situations and again asked people to list their greatest fears. Here are the top responses:
A party with strangers - 74%
Giving a speech - 70%
Asked personal questions in public - 65%
Meeting a date's parents - 59%
First day on a new job - 59%
Victim of a practical joke - 56%
Job interview - 46%
What we're worried about in all these situations is feeling embarrassed, feeling incompetent, and being negatively judged. And all that seems tied to the words we're about to say. What if I say the wrong thing? What if I stammer or the words don't come out right? What if I draw a blank when I open my mouth? We're focused on our words and how they'll be received. We think our words = us.
For years I watched Georgia sing at her church. She sang in the choir, and also in the praise band, and several times a year she would sing a song solo. She never seemed nervous, and I knew she'd been doing this for a long time. So I was surprised one day when she said to me, "Rachel, I don't know how you can get up there and speak in front of all those people like you do. That would make me so nervous." "But Georgia, you do it all the time when you get up and sing - you even sing solos!" I replied. I'll never forget her response: "Yes, but those aren't my words I'm singing."
So one way to handle the praying-out-loud-when-in-a-group nerves, is to pray someone else's words. Pray verses from the Bible. Or at least truths from the Bible.
You can do that quite simply. You don't even have to have the verses (or their location in the Bible) memorized. For example ...
"Lord, you said when we ask for wisdom, you will give it to us (from James 1:5). Please give so-and-so wisdom in this situation."
Or, "God, you said we could come to you when we are overwhelmed and that you would give us rest (from Matthew 11:28). Take so-and-so's troubles and worries today and let her rest."
Or, "Lord you promised in the Bible that you would comfort us (from John 14:18). So-and-so is having a hard time right now, please comfort them now in Jesus' Name."
Those 3 prayers right there could cover a multitude of situations and prayer requests.
I think the best piece of advice I can offer those of us who feel nervous to pray out loud is to remember that this is about the person or situation we are praying for, not about us and how well we pray. So it's necessary that we shift our focus from ourself and how we might be perceived by others, to the object of our prayer or to the One we are praying to.
Finally, if you are praying in a group where several others have already spoken, and nothing more comes to your mind to pray, just pray, "God, I agree with these prayers, in Jesus' Name."
Remember that we don't have to say a lot or use eloquent speech to be effective in prayer. Jesus told us that. In fact, one of my favorite things to pray - indeed probably the most powerful thing I can pray - is: "God, may Your will not ours be done in this situation. Your plans are best."
*If this post was helpful, consider reading my book: IT'S NO SECRET.