Why I Dislike The Popcorn Prayer

Why I Dislike The Popcorn Prayer
Oh,the popcorn prayer. How I dislike it. Everyone shares their requests and then we bow our heads to pray.

And we wait for that first or second brave soul to speak up.

Sometimes silence echoes in the room, while our brains tell us to just speak up already. At some point, the silence taunts even louder as we wait for someone to wrap it up and say the elusive, AMEN.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love group prayers. I think they are a necessity.

But I am not a fan of this particular method of group prayer. Neither are most people I talk to.

So why do we continue to do it? If you know, feel free to enlighten me.

I don’t dislike it solely because of the awkward silence that seems so daunting. I don’t mind praying out loud but it does push me out of my comfort zone.

Reasons I dislike this type of prayer:

  • It scares off newcomers. Do you want to be put into that position to pray out loud when you don’t know anyone and aren’t sure if this is the church for you? Talk about putting a newbie on the spot.
  • The droners. You know the ones. They pray forever and I’ll be honest, it is very hard to stay focused and keep my mind on prayer when the prayer goes on and on and on…
  • There is always that one person who overshares in the prayer. They might share someone else’s personal information making everyone uncomfortable. Some folks say what ever comes to their mind when they are uncomfortable or put on the spot. If you’re that person, it’s probably really unhealthy for your blood pressure.
  • Someone in the group usually has the gift of prayer and can pray for the entire group and individual needs. This is just as effective as each individual praying, and for me, is easier to focus on.
  • It can be downright hard to hear some voices in the group as they pray. – Happened in bible study two weeks ago. The other groups were done before ours and were talking so loudly, I could not hear anything any of my group said.
  • If you say you aren’t comfortable praying out loud, you can end up feeling judged. No one needs that.
  • It’s a distraction during the time others are praying if you are worrying about what you are going to say so you don’t sound like a dufus.

If you are a leader, please reconsider making people pray out loud. I have personally heard people say they won’t return to a bible study or small group where they are forced to pray out loud. If I were brand new and I showed up to a study and was told I had to pray out loud, I wouldn’t come back. My husband would be one of those who wouldn’t come back, new or not.

What are your feelings on this type of prayer? Do you like it? Hate it? Please share in the comments because what you have to say is more important!


  1. Love this. There are manr who have that gift of prayer for all, and should be allied gouache…leave the rest of us to sit quietly and say a quiet amen.

  2. Amen! Amen! Amen! I am one who won’t come back. I have attended groups and even retreats where you can’t get out of it. It is not okay to put people who are shy on the spot like that. I stumble over my words when I have to do this and I leave feeling stupid. That’s not how I want to leave after spending time studying God’s word. Thank you for speaking out against this. I’ve never understood it.

    • Carrie, I honestly don’t know why it’s done so I am hoping someone will give me some good reasons for it today. I’m sorry you’ve been put on the spot. I’m not usually one to volunteer to pray out loud, so I really hate having my choice taken from me.

  3. When is it about us and staying comfortable. The seeker sensitive movement has so impacted our churches and small groups that we no longer tremble before God to ask what He wants.

    We are all a work in progress, but must beging somewhere. It seems like yesterday, I hated praying out loud, raising my hands in worship, answering Biblical questions. I am so glad I was encouraged to grow beyond my comfort zone.

    The reason I like the popcorn prayer is that you do not have to pray if you do not feel comfortable. You can pray and agree with those who do pray out loud.

    I pray even if you feel uncomfortable now, you will stick around and grow. Prayer changes things…mostly us!!

    • All good points! Unfortunately, I have been in situations where passing isn’t an option. While growth is always the goal, I don’t think we should force this sort of thing on others who may not ever want to do this.

  4. I think sometimes there are things laid on someones heart that they want to pray about, whether it be out loud in this scenario or silent. I do not believe in forcing someone to take a part in any aspect of the church. How is that going to benefit the church if God hasn’t called them to do anything. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think God intends for us to just sit by and let someone else do everything, but we have to be in a position to listen to what God is telling us to do. He gives us all a gift, and praying might not be mine. I love to hear a prayer that comes from the heart and not the lips. This situation can cause lip service and not heart service. Just saying.

  5. I do not think anyone should be forced or coerced into spiritual disciplines ever. SPirit led is the goal. As a leader for Moms In Prayer -growth in relationship to Christ is the ultimate goal. Let Him guide His sheep as He will. Not everyone will feel comfortable praying aloud in these times. God sees the heart. It’s what we do behind closed doors and in the unseen closet ultimately. As someone who is somewhat comfortable to pray out loud I am still growing in my ability to hear him clearly while praying in a group. Quite honestly ,I hear Him better when I am alone, but I allow him to stretch me even still.
    Dawn recently posted..Crickets In The Loft {Guest Post by Lee Boardway}

  6. I agree with most of what you have said. I do love it when someone in the group have the gift of prayer and are more than willing to cover it all for the whole group. The only thing I would add is that the group could make it a point to let new comers and those who are just shy and not comfortable with open prayer know that it is ok if they pray silently.

  7. I long for the good old days when the entire group would cry out to God and there would be an earthquake……

    Some folks definitely have the “gift of gab” more than others, but the scriptures do say to pray together, to pray without ceasing.. and even Paul asks his readers “popcorn” prayers like asking for boldness to carry out his mission, etc.

    While I understand that we want to make people feel welcome, God doesn’t allow our His will to be placed at the sacrifice of comfort. Yeah, “public” prayers are tough — don’t I know it! I hate that self-conscious feeling! — and some things are so personal between God and the individual. But we can;t bend so far backwards that we snap and forget the scriptural instructions. Back in the early times, Christians were captured and slain for meeting together for prayer. Wouldn’t those emperors love our churches today…..

  8. Mel, I totally agree.
    In my group (a women’s group), we talk about the prayer requests and the leader writes each one down. Then she gives each member of the group one or two specific ones, that way we know nothing is forgotten. If a new person isn’t comfortable praying aloud, that’s okay. We then just go around the circle, each person praying for the items they have been allocated, and the leader usually starts and finishes. It has literally taken me years to feel comfortable praying aloud, but this system works well for this setting.

    Hope this helps someone maybe!

  9. This prayer certainly isnt for everyone in every tradition but prayers are meant to be heard and shared before God. And praying in community is a fantastic way to solidify that you are on mission together – not merely trying to become better individuals. I’ve seen this done beautifully, but not without much practice.
    Dave recently posted..Some Wisdom from Eric Metaxas

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