The sun shone brightly over the field where my classmates and I sat. On that beautiful spring day, members of the high school choir sang at an outdoor prayer service. We were invited to sing and then stay for the remainder of the prayer service. “This is sweet!” I thought to myself. “We got out of class for an extended period of time, and we get to offer meaningful music on this beautiful day!” My enthusiasm dropped a bit as I realized that I might be called upon to pray aloud in a small group.
I sat among a circle of my peers and pulled on the grass as I tried to prepare some prayerful words in advance. I did not want to sound like an idiot; so when I thought of prayer-worthy material, I repeated it over and over to ensure I wouldn’t forget the wording. The prayers offered by my peers never reached my ears. My mind was consumed with the words I would contribute.
Perhaps I cold have been more attentive to the entirety of the prayer to which I was contributing, but I was a novice in the praying aloud department. I felt much more comfortable praying in solitary silence—so comfortable that I may have even grown lazy in my personal prayer practice. However, when praying aloud with others, I couldn’t afford such passivity. Whatever I prayed in that small group, I offered with intentionality and heart because my nervous energy led me to actively repeat and meditate upon my prayer.