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I like it that God hears my silent prayers and nobody else can, including the enemy. Praying silently in my mind and spirit allows me to intercede on the behalf of others in the world, our nation, our government leaders and so on without the enemy knowing. I find there are less distractions to my prayers when I do it in my heart and mind where only God hears them. In Ephesians 6:18, it is the culminating powerful tool given to us to use in the Armor of God. Romans 8:26-27 says the Spirit interprets our prayers to God according to His will. How awesome is that? When we groan due to the conditions of our world and the rejection of God in peoples lives, it is presented before God according to His will.
I think talking to God, audibly or silently, is biblical. I think praying audibly is a better choice for many other reasons, such as: keeping one's mind from being too distracted; "hearing" the words of faith; being able to pray in agreement with someone (you want to know what you're agreeing with); and so on. Praying the scriptures aloud builds up your faith, too. Silent prayer has its place. There are situations and places that only lend to a silent prayer. For example, praying in a public setting (other than religious or church), praying while talking to someone, praying when witnessing to an unbeliever, and so on. One story found in the Bible about a close-to-silent prayer is in the encounter of Hannah with Eli. "Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk." 1 Samuel 1:13-15 Hannah was praying in her heart. However, when she moved her lips and her voice wasn't heard, Eli thought she had been intoxicated.
Nehemiah 2:4-5 strongly suggests that silent prayer was Nehemiah's method of praying in this particular situation: The king asked Nehemiah an important question, and Nehemiah had to answer immediately, so he prayed before answering! No doubt he prayed silently, and very briefly. Probably something like "Help, Lord!" Then he opened his mouth and replied to the king's question.
For the purpose of examination, let's suppose silent prayer to be "unbiblical." Does that make silent prayer sin? Jesus said we were to not be ashamed of our relationship with Him, so the question might be inferring that silent prayer is praying ashamedly. "For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels" (Mark 8:38). Or, are we to reckon silent prayer to be not heard by God? The prophet Habakkuk complained about God not hearing him: Oh Lord, how long shall I cry for help and you will not hear? Or cry to you "violence," and you will not save? God spoke through the prophet Zechariah and said He wasn't listening to the people because the people weren't listening to Him: "As I called and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear" (Zech 7:13). But I can't find where God complained that the people weren't speaking in an audible voice. When the question is whether a practice is "biblical," is that a way of asking if the practice is "lawful" for believers? I ask because if it refers to things that weren't told to us by the bible to be done, the list is almost inexhaustible. I'll stay in context: praying on the phone with a friend, praying while driving, while jogging, at the dentist office (lol), on an exercise bike, during take-off and landing.... Are these prayers respected by God? These conditions didn't exist during the time of the writing of the scriptures, so are they "biblical"? "Biblical" according to Webster: Of or in the bible. The story of Nehemiah being sad before King Artaxerxes, and being asked why he had a sad look on his face, has been used as a footnote on "silent prayer." The bible says Nehemiah became afraid when asked this by the King, and that he prayed. It says it in one breath, as if Nehemiah was put on the spot and had to offer a quick unplanned prayer to God. I don't know if that's what we're being told. When the King asked him why he was sad Nehemiah told him why. The king asked what he could do to help (Neh 2:4). "So I prayed to the God of heaven." It might be that he didn't answer the King on the spot. Often, the bible doesn't tell "blow by blow" what was done and said. After he prayed he answered the King, is what we're encouraged to learn. He might have offered a quick silent prayer, or he might have had time to pray and got back to the King some time later. The bible isn't chronologically written. When it's imagined to be understood that way it is usually misunderstood. (1Tim 2:11) Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I take this to mean if she prays "in church" she is to do it silently and not in a way to draw attention to herself. The words of the wise heard in quiet is better than the shouting of of a ruler among fools (Eccl 9:17). Finally - When Zechariah, John the Baptist's father, was told by the angel Gabriel that his wife Elizabeth would "bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord," instead of Zechariah rejoicing, he questioned the authenticity of this good news. His reply was, "How shall I know this, for I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years?" He was sentenced by the angel Gabriel to be "unable to speak until the day these things take place." (See Luke 1) Was this priest, who was made mute by the power of God, unable to pray "biblically" for nine months? What we do know is that when John was born "they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted [John] to be called." He wrote on a tablet "His name is John." And immediately his tongue was loosed and he spoke, BLESSING GOD. (Emphasis mine) Then Zechariah prophesied (vs 68 - 79). Maybe he had nine months of prayer penned up inside.. We're told to pray without ceasing (1 Thes 5:17). It doesn't say you must move your lips...
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