Silent Prayer vs Audible Prayer

Is it ok if we pray in our minds to God? A recent emailer asked me about what the Bible specifically has to say about this as they were wary of Satan deceiving them into praying 'telepathically.' They were also having to deal with demonic distractions while they prayed. While we know that God hears all our thoughts, we also know from Scripture that Jesus prayed out loud. So what does the Bible say about this?

I personally prefer to get somewhere private where I can pray out loud using audible spoken words. This seems to be more profitable for me Spiritually for the same reasons the emailer mentioned. When I pray internally with my mind, I have no doubt that God can hear every word. However, it seems that when I do that, it's easier for Satan to send arrows (as Ephesians 6:11-18 puts it) into my mind to distract me from praying. I actually did a practice run with this once and when I got down on my knees by my bedside to pray silently, I suddenly found my mind wandering into other areas of thought that had nothing to do with my prayer. So for the sake of persistence and purposeful and focused praying, I prefer to pray out loud to my Father. It seems more real to me that way. As I pray out loud, I can then take every inner thought captive (2nd Corinthians 10:5) and then speak it out loud in prayer, asking, "Lord, I just had this thought. Was that of you, or of the flesh/Satan?"

This is how conversations with God happen. We speak to Him verbally out loud, He then speaks back to us, in our Spirit, but always in line with the Scripture and never contradicting it. That's why we take every thought captive. Plus, the more Scripture we have in our heart, the easier and faster this process can happen. God brings to our mind, the Scripture we've digested in the past. So the more Scripture we've digested, the more God has to work with in bringing His Own Word to our mind when we pray.

There's nothing wrong with praying internally inside our mind, it's certainly OK to do that and it has many advantages when in a public place where we don't want to make a spectacle of ourselves. Jesus also warned us against praying in public for the sake of being seen. (Matthew 6:5-7) Praying silently inside our mind can also help in a tight jam when our enemy has temporarily removed our ability to speak, for whatever reason. (Like in sleep paralysis.) Sometimes, praying silently is extremely advantageous even in private when emotions are overwhelming. In those moments, just resting silently on my knees, (or perhaps on the bed in the fetal position) is like crawling into God's lap and just laying there. This is what the Scripture means when it says "Be still (or silent) and know that I am God." Sometimes, words aren't necessary. The fact that God can hear our internal prayers comes from Romans 8:26-27.

"...the Holy Spirit also helps us in our infirmities: for we don't know what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered and He that searches our hearts knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God."

Look that passage up in other translations as well because it's very enlightening concerning what takes place on a Spiritual level every time we pray. Unfortunately, these verses have been twisted into the doctrine of "speaking in tongues" and a "spiritual prayer language" which has nothing to do with what Romans 8:26-27 is talking about. What these 2 verses are saying, is that when we pray, the Holy Spirit Himself acts as an interpreter to God the Father. The Holy Spirit lives inside of our physical bodies and is sealed together with our mind and our heart, therefore, it knows exactly what we mean to say, even in ways that we aren't adequate enough to express. The Holy Spirit takes the whole of our prayers, both the spoken word that we say, and the whole meaning behind it that's expressed in our hearts, and then He takes it to the Father and fully interprets our whole prayer to His ears, using words, groanings, yearnings, vocabulary and facial expressions that better speak on our behalf than our own language can produce. It's a wonderful comfort to know that whenever I pray, regardless of how it comes out, I have no reason to fear that God might possibly misunderstand my prayer, or not feel the full weight of my request or supplication.

Hebrews 4:12-16 also amplifies this in even greater detail when it expresses that Jesus, the Son of God is sitting on His Father's Throne as our High Priest. The book of Hebrews was written to a Jewish audience with a full understanding of Temple worship, so they knew what a High Priest was. The High Priest was the only human who could go into the Holy of Holies of the Temple to take Israel's prayers before God. He could only go inside once a year, and even then he had to undergo endless ceremonial washings to symbolically cleans himself. But Jesus is our High Priest now, so He takes our prayers to God the Father now. And unlike the human High Priest who only went once a year, Jesus has remained and sat down on His Father's Throne. This passage in the letter to the Hebrews says something awesome that not too many Christians know and understand. It says...

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight but all things are exposed and naked unto the eyes of HIM with whom we have to do. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession of faith in Him, for we do not have a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted just as we are, yet without sin. (In other words, He knows everything that's in our hearts and has a personally shared understanding of it all, including the experience of what we're feeling.) Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

I love those passages. It totally revolutionized my prayer-life. With the Holy Spirit interpreting my deepest thoughts and longings, and Jesus My High Priest having a personally shared understanding of all that I endure, and God's Holy Word like a Sword, penetrating to the deepest parts of my nature, I can practically pray however I want to pray and God will ultimately hear every last word and understand completely. Therefore, whether we pray silently or verbally depends upon what's more convenient for us at the time of the prayer. At times, silent prayer is more convenient when crammed among a body of people who won't understand. Some conversations between the Lord and I must remain private. But when I'm alone, I prefer to pray out loud with spoken words because my mind tends to be easily distracted with intruding thoughts. I believe Satan is the culprit behind those distractions. Sometimes, I pray softly at my bedside, other times I have to pray standing up and walking about the house because Satan is merciless when he tries to interfere. I've even had to resort to unplugging the phone because I've noticed, whenever the Lord is about to free me from some internal bondage that I've been carrying from deception, that's when Satan interrupts me with phone calls. The phone will ring off the hook and it's everything from telemarketers to wrong numbers. Also, sometimes, I have to keep the computer turned off because I'll be tempted to read emails or check facebook in the middle of a prayer. This is what Jesus meant by "entering into your closet." Some people literally have a closet. But what I believe this means, it means shut out any and all distractions.