Should Everyone Speak at the Same Time When Praying?

In many churches, people speak out loud at the same time during their prayer times. Is this a Biblical way to pray? Here are 12 reasons to oppose simultaneous praying, or prayer meetings where multiple people speak at the same time.

  1. All speech in the church should be understood by the other members of the church. 1 Cor. 14:5-6

5 Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying. 6 But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching?

When people pray at the same time, they cannot understand each other, and therefore, they cannot be built up in their faith. Paul repeats this concept throughout the 14th chapter regarding tongues, praying, and prophesy so that we would never disconnect the rational mind from worship. See also, 1 Cor. 14:19.

  1. Some, but not all church members should speak at church. 1 Cor. 14:26, 27, 29

26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; … 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment.

Group praying gives everyone a speaking role, when that is not God’s plan for many of His people. Not everyone should be speaking at church. (1 Cor. 12:5-6, 12, 29-30)

  1. Church services must be edifying. 1 Cor. 14:26

26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

Rational beings cannot become like Christ without the presentation of truth to their minds. The practice of simultaneous praying at church blocks us from comprehending whatever the other believers are doing.

  1. Church services must be orderly. 1 Cor. 14:33, 40

33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. … 40 But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.

Prop. 1: Scripture condemns confusion in the church.
Prop. 2: Many people speaking different words at the same time is confusion in the church.
Conclusion: Scripture condemns many people speaking different words at the same time.

  1. When a new speaker begins, the previous speaker must be silent. 1 Cor. 14:30

30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent.

Everyone likes to talk, but the Spirit-filled man is ready to stop talking if that will bring the greatest good to the other believers.

  1. Simultaneous praying encourages a specific prayer sin that our Lord warned us about. Matt. 6:5-6

5 When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Prayer meetings where everyone speaks at the same time tend to cause people to raise their voices, find catchy phrases, and otherwise enhance their “prayers” in order to be noticed within the crowd.

  1. Since simultaneous praying is a performance, it encourages the repetition of phrases. Matt. 6:7-8

7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

Not all the people at a religious gathering will be able to link their words together smoothly, but if they are all told to pray at the same time, then they have to say something. I have heard people in these settings commonly repeat the same phrases and words over and over which is precisely what our Lord was rebuking in the Sermon on the Mount.

  1. Solomon led a great crowd in prayer while they silently listened. 1 Kings 8:22-23, 54, 62

The people apparently listened while Solomon spoke, and then joined him when he offered the sacrifices.

  1. God designed the church to be a united family where they mutually support each other.

At least 54 times in the NT, the church is told to do something to “one another.” The church is not a collection of individuals concerned about their own prosperity, entertainment, or experience, but rather a family that always thinks of each other. If everyone speaks at the same time, they are not loving each other or building each other, they are acting individually.

  1. Simultaneous praying uniquely “makes provision for the flesh.” Rom. 13:14

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

We are tempted to desire the praise of man whenever we perform in a group. We are tempted to entertain those who are listening. We are tempted to impress others with a “good showing in the flesh.” We are tempted to notice ourselves, our words, our audience, our reception rather than the unutterable majesty of God. When a man truly prays he hates and runs from every sin because God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. Why would we use a method that is not commanded in Scripture and that holds company with so many temptations?

  1. The greatest Christians in the history of the church who saw revival, sent out missionaries, and sacrificed for their faith did not pray this way.

Augustine did not advocate this method of prayer. Nor did Calvin, Von Zinzendorf, Wesley, Carey, Paton, or any of the men whom God has greatly used to convert thousands of people. This method is a new invention along with other questionable or clearly sinful practices of the contemporary church.

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Heb. 13:7

  1. This method of prayer brings no spiritual blessing with it.

It is not commanded in Scripture. It is not found in Church history. It is spiritually dangerous since it brings numerous temptations. And yet even if you could maneuver past all these dangers, what blessing would you have? Simultaneous prayer gives no blessing that is not also present with a more orderly form of prayer.

No benefits and many dangers. Why would God’s people use this practice?

 

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13 Responses to Should Everyone Speak at the Same Time When Praying?

  1. Keith Call says:

    What if the pastor simply opens the floor to simultaneous prayer, not intending that this be a teaching moment? He would specify this beforehand. I never intend my audible prayer to instruct, nor do I necessarily intend that others listen. Would you allow this?

    • Paul Schlehlein says:

      Even in these situations, I have found it almost impossible to concentrate on my own prayers when there is so much racket around me.

  2. Tim Cantrell says:

    Amen, brother, well said, I fully agree.

  3. Amen Mfundisi!!

    Would you mind if I translated this article into Zulu and printed it out and disseminated it? Reason being, I find this particular problem to be more prevalent in African churches and I have not seen any sort of literature in the vernacular that addresses it this accurately.

    • Seth Meyers says:

      Of course, you may use these thoughts in anyway that will be helpful for evangelism and discipleship.

      God bless, brother.

  4. John graham says:

    I totally agree with this article and I am apalled at how common the practice appears to be in today’s churches. It is neither edifying to God nor to man. How can I say Amen to so many prayers at once? If people must pray divorced from other people then they should do it at home. The practice is self indulgentv and just makes people feel holy. Sham worship.

  5. David says:

    Some pastors also instruct people to pray in tongues all at once. Right or wrong , to me ( and many others ) it is disturbing and not edifying at all

  6. Ruth Romero says:

    I agree with this article. It is confusing and distracting to hear a group of people pray at the same time and difficult to concentrate on my own prayer. They should take turns praying.

  7. Jones Howell says:

    What is appalling is that a teaching would discourage ANY kind of prayer. People shout extemporaneously at ballgames and no one seems “disturbed” or “confused.” You don’t pray aloud simultaneously because you’re embarrassed and not exuberant with God. Simultaneous prayer is exciting, free, and edifying. There are times for representational prayer but don’t quench the Spirit with this pedagogy.

    • Seth Meyers says:

      Paul the apostle discouraged certain kinds of prayer in 1 Corinthians 14. In Psalms, Lamentations, and Ezekiel, God specifically says that he will not hear certain prayers.

      “Therefore, I indeed will deal in wrath. My eye will have no pity nor will I spare; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, yet I will not listen to them.” Ezekiel 8:18

      We must work diligently to discover what prayers will not be heard and avoid them. Many prayers–perhaps most prayers–are not in the Spirit, nor in Jesus’ name, nor according to His will. These prayers cannot hope to be answered, and even worse, they add to our guilt before a holy God.

  8. Adolphus Dixon says:

    I agree with you; Our God is not an inanimate object—He’s not a stone neither a tree that He cannot hear our prayers at the very first utterance. These lengthy and very noisy simultaneous prayers are replicas of some of those Paganistic practices which have been adopted by the Church today. Yes, when Elijah challenged all those prophets of Baal to call down fire to consume the sacrifice, they prayed, chanted, cried, beat and bruised themselves all day to get their god to answer, but he couldn’t (because he was a man-made god, a material god made of stone). When they got tired and gave up, the Prophet Elijah increased the difficulty of the challenge for himself by flooding the alter with water . He afterwards uttered a SINGLE prayer in FAITH and the Lord Almighty, the Lord of Hosts responded instantly with a fire that not only consumed the sacrifice, but the entire alter! He’s a LIVING GOD who hears and answers the cry of the FAITHFUL in His own ways and time. We must remember this: Prayer doesn’t change God, (He is Unchanging! He’s Infinite!) it only CHANGES A SITUATION for you or CHANGES YOU for a situation! AMEN!

  9. Obinna says:

    This article is obviously a biased cultural interpretation of prayer and not an insightful scriptural exposition on prayer. It would be helpful to examine some other scriptures like Acts 4:24 where the early Christians lifted up their voice together in prayer and Ephesians 6:18 – praying always with all manner of prayers. The issues raised in 1 Cor 14 does not directly refer to simultaneous prayers as we know it, rather Apostle Paul was addressing the challenges posed by the diverse giftings of the Corinthian church. The context is extremely important.

    Note Romans 14:5b which states that every one should be convinced of what they believe. Praying in turns is beneficial as well as simultaneous prayers, none is superior to the other. If someone is uncomfortable with a type of prayer, it does not give the person the right to condemn. It is curious that someone wants to hear the prayers of others when prayers are actually directed to God and not to man. However, that is where cultural background comes in. Flesh can be expressed in any type of prayers.

    It is obvious that the writer of the article has not visited Christian congregations in South Korea, Africa and North America where through group simultaneous prayers people encounter God’s presence. All these Christian congregations are part of the global body of Christ and partisan theology cannot diminish that.

    It is sad that the article above is unfortunately judgemental. Honestly it reads like one a publication in Medieval England against Protestant revivalists who chose to be led by the Holy Spirit and not the traditions of the established Church.

    How can anyone of us conclude that God does not answer simultaneous prayers when many who pray such have encountered God deeply and experienced scriptures fulfilled. This scripture is instructive at this juncture, Romans 14:4 ‘who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand’

    Cultural bias: It is very European to pray in turns however in Africa, Asia and most parts of the global south, it is cultural to be very expressive therefore simultaneous prayers comes naturally in those parts. Church history is still being written in the global south today with great revivals and conversion of millions to Christ. John 3:8 ‘the wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit’

    John 13:35 ‘By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’

    • Seth Meyers says:

      Obinna, my wife, five children, and I just returned from 3 church services among the Tsonga people as is usual for us on a Sunday. We minister entirely in Tsonga with a few other language groups added in from time to time. There are very few people that we have ever met who show evidence of faith in Christ. Everyone of our church members is a first generation Christian.

      If you would be willing to pray for a revival and conversion among the Tsonga people, we would be grateful.

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