A fellow preacher and I once had an interesting conversation concerning people praying aloud and Satan being able to listen in on those prayers. The question we kicked around was this: Is it smarter to pray silently so that Satan and his fellow fallen angels (demons) won’t be able to hear our requests and, thus, thwart them?
Upon first impression, the answer seems to be that, yes, we should pray silently. I mean, after all, Satan and the other fallen angels can hear, can’t they? And the sole purpose of their existence is to mess up what God is trying to do, right? So why give them advance notice of what we are asking for in prayer? Isn’t that kind of like an army publicly announcing its battle plans to an enemy army?
But when my preacher friend and I consulted the Bible to find our answer, we quickly realized that we just couldn’t make a scriptural case for always praying silently. Putting it simply, the truth is that the Bible gives us various instances of people praying aloud. For example, Solomon prayed aloud in his great prayer of dedication for the Jewish temple (2 Chronicles 6:12-42). Elijah’s prayer on Mount Carmel seems to have been aloud (1 Kings 18:36-39). Those believers who met in that upper room following Christ’s ascension prayed aloud (Acts 1:24-25), as did Paul and Silas when they were in prison (Acts 16:25). Paul also prayed aloud when he met with the elders of Ephesus (Acts 20:36).
Now, it is certainly true that Jesus instructed His followers to go into a room and shut the door when they prayed (Matthew 6:5-6). However, His purpose in saying that was to get them to avoid the hypocritical way of publicly praying “for show” that was so common among the Pharisees. Basically, what He said was, “Hide yourself,” not “Shush yourself.” Actually, you can pray aloud even if you are in your room with the door closed.
So, in the end, we should understand that there is no Bible prohibition against praying aloud. Yes, Satan or some other fallen angel might be listening, but that doesn’t mean they can bring the prayer requests to ruination. While Daniel chapter 10 does teach that fallen angels — referred to as “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” and “the prince of the kingdom of Greece” in the chapter — can, in certain instances, delay the answers to prayers, that single chapter can’t be used to cancel out the totality of the Bible’s teaching on praying aloud.
The fact is, if God knew that praying out loud is so detrimental to our prayers, surely He would have spelled it out more clearly in the Bible. For that matter, we don’t even have a guarantee from scripture that Daniel’s prayer — the one that prompted the spiritual warfare and delayed answer — was prayed silently. Daniel could have prayed it out loud for all we know. So, if you like to talk out loud when you pray, go for it. After all, what you say in prayer is much more important than how you say it.
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When you say that the fallen do not have the power to delay an answer from God…… this is incorrect. They do have that power. This is recorded in the book of Daniel. The angel, carrying God’s response to Daniel, was withstood and delayed for three weeks. Michael, the Archangel, had to come to help him get past the powerful demon. This is why we are to pray without ceasing, and combine it with fasting. This is how God wants things to be for now….. God has allowed the demons a role to play in our prayer life. It is up to us whether or not we receive God’s answers.
Kris, I appreciate you catching what was a bit of oversimplified summation on my part. My purpose in writing this post was to specifically address the question, “Should we pray silently to keep Satan from hearing?” Therefore, I wasn’t trying to also cover the question, “Can Satan and his fellow demons hinder or delay the answers to our prayers?” That’s why, when I felt that I had given the Bible’s answer to the question I was asking, I got a little sloppy with the closing summation and application. So, let me now fix that problem.
As you rightly pointed out, the devil and his fellow fallen angels can hinder or delay the answers to our prayers. And you cited the Old Testament’s classic story on the subject. I myself have preached from Daniel chapter 10 several times. I’ve even prefaced many of my prayers over the years with words such as, “Lord, please send any help that is needed in the spiritual realm to help with the spiritual warfare so that I can receive Your answer clearly.”
Of course, someone might argue that Daniel chapter 10 isn’t ideally applicable to the modern-day Christian because there are so many differences between us and Daniel. For example, whereas Daniel was a Jew, most Christians nowadays are Gentile. Also, Daniel didn’t have God the Holy Spirit (who is a major help in our prayer life) dwelling inside him the way we Christians do today. And admittedly these are valid observations.
However, there are certain New Testament passages that also teach that Satan and his ranks can hinder or delay the answers to our prayers. I’m sure that Paul made a habit of bathing his travel plans in prayer, and yet he freely admitted to the Christians of Thessalonica that Satan had hindered him from coming to them (1st Thessalonians 2:18). Also, passages such as Ephesians 6:10-20, 2nd Corinthians 12:7, Jude verse 9, Revelation 2:13, 1st Peter 5:8, and John 10:10 clearly depict Satan and the other fallen angels as formidable foes for the Christian. Basically, these foes work tirelessly day and night in their attempts to prevent or delay anything that God is trying to do, and that no doubt includes answers to the prayers of Christians. So, I hope this lets you and anyone else who might read this know that my intent was never to downplay or minimize the damage that Satan and the other fallen angels can do in the life of the Christian.
With this understood, I’ll just again point out that the actual question I was answering was not, “Can Satan and his fellow demons hinder what God is trying to do?” As you’ve pointed out and as I’ve elaborated upon, the answer to that is yes. The question I was answering was, “Should we pray silently to keep Satan from hearing?” And, again, in regards to that subject I can’t find any scripture (Old Testament or New Testament) to make the case that we should never pray out loud. Putting it another way, even though Satan and his ranks are always out there hindering what God is trying to do, I don’t believe their work is made easier when Christians say their prayers out loud. I’ll stand on that answer and apologize for any unintended confusion the closing to my post created. Many times in my ministry I’ve had folks lovingly tell me that I am too THOROUGH, but here was an instance where I was in too much of a hurry to get to the end of my answer and consequently wasn’t thorough enough.
I went back and fixed the post in regards to Kris’ reply. Thanks Kris. I did need to make that part clearer.
it does not matter if satan or his army of nothing hear our prayers ,god`s will is gods will basiclly he can hear all he wants “whats he going to do?’he knows where he is going in the end no matter what ,so i tell him myself openly ” listen to my prayers with my permission”,unlike him im welcome in heaven
Good points, Andrew. Thanks for commenting.
Why would anyone (aside from Satan) want to hinder God or the Angels in answering prayer? Saying the Lords Prayer outloud is the way to pray as God knows your personal needs, and we should all join together in the Lord’s Prayer.
Personal prayers and requests should be as stated in “Matthew”.
Since the crucification we have the Holy Spirit , whom in fact , works in secret.
Amen. May God Bless.