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What does the Bible say about public prayer? Is it okay to pray in public?

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There is ample evidence for public God-honoring prayer in the Bible, by such models as Ezra, Solomon, and Jesus.

Ezra drew a crowd when he prayed publicly in anguish at Israel's lack of dedication to God (Ezra 10:1), but didn't suffer rebuke from the people or from God for his public prayer. When we read of Solomon praying at the dedication of the temple, we can find no backlash or disfavor from God due to his prayer being public (1 Kings 8:22–23).

Jesus prayed publically in front of thousands as He miraculously fed them, with His disciples, and from the cross. The Gospel writers recorded many of His prayers for us.

However, Jesus also spoke against wrong motives in regards to public prayer. Prior to teaching the disciples the Lord's Prayer, Jesus warned them about praying in public. "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6:5–6.)

When we read this, we learn that hypocritical prayers prayed to be noticed or honored by those within ear-shot are clearly wrong. We must examine our motives when accepting an invitation or contemplating public prayer. Our first audience, as in all prayer, is God Himself. Secondly, think and pray about who will hear or eavesdrop on our conversation with God (for that is what prayer is, talking with God). Our representation of our relationship with Him may attract or repel others.

When Daniel prayed in public sight (and against the laws of the time), he was arrested. It was this act that lead him to the lion's den. Daniel knew that his public prayer may lead to trouble, but believed God would honor Himself by protecting Daniel or even by allowing Daniel's death. Daniel was protected and the king who sought to have him punished declared God's goodness throughout the entire land (Daniel 6:25–27).

Public prayer is certainly biblically acceptable. However, we should also be cognizant of our motives in public prayer and particularly beware of pride. Wanting to pray publicly so as to be thought highly of is not biblical. At the same time, avoiding praying in public for fear of embarrassment or out of shame is also not biblical. Both public prayer and private prayer are biblically supported and have a place in the life of a believer.

Related Truth:

What types of prayer are mentioned in the Bible?

Why pray? What is the purpose of prayer?

Is silent prayer biblical?

Persistent prayer - Is it biblical? Is it acceptable to repeatedly pray for the same thing, or should we ask only once?

How does a person pray in Jesus' name?

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Truth about Prayer

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