Written by Melissa Miller
I stood in the Marriott ballroom surrounded by 200 women ready to enjoy dinner before returning to the Women of Faith Conference. My best friend and I had arranged the meal for friends, family, and complete strangers attending the event. As we prepared to eat she turned to me and said, “you’re going to pray before we eat, right?” “WHAT? In front of all these people? On a microphone? Out loud?”
Knowing that only my prayer stood between the hungry crowd and dinner, I cautiously approached the microphone and the 400 eyeballs. Inside my head I silently prayed “God, give me Your words because I am not prepared for this!”
Words came out of my mouth, but they were His words, His encouragement, and His love for those women. Afterward, I returned to my seat and my stunned friend who was surprised at what God said through me that night.
God moved me outside my comfort zone and set me on a new trajectory on my walk with Him and praying out loud.
I grew up Catholic, praying some beautiful prayers that I more fully understand now that I’m older. But I have come to appreciate and treasure speaking openly with God, praying bold prayers, and praying out loud.
“When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God.“Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.” Acts 4:24 (NIV)
Even after that fateful day at the Marriott, God placed influential prayer warriors in my path to experience and from whom to learn.
When I served on the leadership of APC’s Mothers of Preschools (MOPS) group, a mentor mom prayed words of encouragement and blessing over each of us individually. I listened as God spoke through her into my situation. It was powerful, and I wanted to pass that on. However, I was still apprehensive. I would still get nervous when we would take turns praying out loud at leader meetings. Would I say the right thing? Would I trip over my words? But each time I actively chose to submit to God and trust Him, God gave me all the words I needed.
Prayer with my children was another opportunity that strengthen my ability to pray out loud. They loved hearing me ask God for blessings and protection for and over them before they left for school or at bedtime. Now they are adding their own prayers and we are agreeing together to see God move in their lives.
The biggest transition came when I began working at Allison Park Church as the Hospitality Director at the Hampton Campus. As a staff, we pray out loud often, and I eased into being part of that environment. I also felt that it was important for my hospitality team to pray before we served together – which initially meant that I would lead by example. Those early prayers were rocky and short, but they have grown into powerful declarations.
If this is an area of your walk you want to strengthen, start by taking one step. Declare a prayer out loud in your home, pray over your child before school or bed, or offer to lead prayer in your life group or serve team.
It’s ok to be nervous. Just ask God to use you and speak through you. God will declare His promises, truth, and encouragement through you to those who need it!
Melissa Miller is the Hospitality Director at the Allison Park Church Hampton Campus. During weekend services she can be seen shaking hand and dishing out hugs. At home she is hugging her hubby of almost 17 years and their three amazing kiddos. The front door is always open so they can all “practice hospitality!”