For follow-up discussion and general commentary on the topic. Comments are sorted chronologically.
I would never dream of kneeling on the pavement head bowed, hands together in front of me talking gibberish!
But I often stand in silence, eyes open, praying.
I last did that at the grave side in a Jewish burial ground after the rabbis had moved away.
"Persecution against Christians today is actually worse than in the first centuries of the Church, and there are more Christian martyrs today than in that era. This is happening more than 1700 years after the Edict of Constantine which gave Christians the freedom to publicly profess their faith."
-Pope Francis, June 27, 2014
In 1996, seven trappist monks were kidnapped from a monastery in Algeria, killed two months later.
In 2009, ten churches were attacked and vandalized in Malaysia after a court decision was given to allow non-Muslim publications to use the word "Allah".
In 2010, a Catholic Church was attacked in Iraq during Sunday evening mass, leaving 58 people dead.
On Christmas Eve 2011, Bishop Umar Mulinde was attacked by a Muslim extremist, who threw acid on his face in protest of Mulinde’s vocal criticism of the Ugandan parliament’s proposal to grant legal recognition to sharia courts.
Early this year, 21 Christians were kidnapped and beheaded in Libya.
How do you stop being nervous about praying publicly? Look around, you should be nervous.
When I was a new Christian, still in huggies and sucking my thumb, I knew without a doubt that I was a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and that I had true freedom from past bondage (Galatians 5:1). When it came to my first time praying out loud in a small group setting, I was excited and had no idea about being self-conscious while praying. I didn't know exactly how I was supposed to pray, but I truly wanted God to touch lives and so I genuinely prayed and talked to God. Afterwards, an older Christian woman told me, "Well, wasn't that a simple prayer," and I heard a tone of mocking (or what I thought to be a mocking tone) and I became self-conscious and confused about prayer. I knew enough to know then, that I was putting myself back in bondage if I based who I was on what others thought of me. I knew I wasn't concerned with impressing others with "lofty prayers" and my main concern was simply, "I don't want to pray and look like a simple fool to other Christians." I realized at that time, that I was sinning no differently than I would have been if my motivation was for show. It was fear and I was already forgetting the living hope I had in Christ (1 Peter 1:3). Christ didn't die for me to stay in bondage overwhat others thought of me (1 Peter 2:24). The fear/nervousness of praying out loud didn't end overnight, but I studied the Word faithfully to learn how to keep from conforming to those old ways I was freed from and to keep the excitement and hope that started with my new birth (1 Corinthians 9:24-25, Romans 12:2). The more I came to understand I was a child of the King and therefore a child of royalty (John 1:12, Romans 8:16-17, Galatians 3:26; 4:7, 1 Peter 2:9), the easier it became to submit to the Holy Spirit's guidance and power within me to put off distractions (worrying what others thought) and to prepare my mind for action (1 Peter 1:13) so that my spiritual growth wasn't hindered. In doing so, I became less and less fearful of praying out loud; realizing more and more the hope I have of glory when Christ returns (1 Peter 3:7).
I don't think you and the person asking the question are talking about the same thing Vincent. I don't think he/she was relating a fear of being persecuted for praying in public. I think the person asking for pointers on how to relax and pray when called on by their group or pastor, or whoever, is asking for help. I think you misunderstand what the person is asking for.
If we were asked how to overcome the fear of being mugged while jogging through Central Park at night, an answer like the one you gave would apply. Being nervous about jogging through Central Park at night is natural. The best way to get over it is to start jogging during daylight hours, and you still need to check your surroundings.
But public prayer makes people nervous for a different reason than what you offered. I hope you see my point.