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Growing up in the church, silent prayers are pretty much part of how I pray. However, challenging assumptions, I'm curious to know how biblical this is.

Every prayer I read about in the Bible is spoken out loud.

Is praying silently biblical? Is it just as effective? Is there any benefit or detriment to it? Is this related to the doctrine of omniscience?

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4 Answers

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Both Genesis 6:5 and 1 Chronicles 28:9 (and myriad other passages) indicate God can understand our thoughts.

So, can God "hear" our silent prayers? Of course!

Is it better to pray out loud than to pray silently? Since there seem to be no instances in the Bible of a recorded silent prayer (other than in the Epistles where Paul writes how he prays for people, or even writes a prayer to the Lord) - I don't think you could make the argument that praying silently is "better" than praying out loud.

However, I also think that since God looks at our motives, and we are told to "pray in secret", that silent prayers are going to be as effective if they are of the same heart as our aloud ones.

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There are many instances of where people in the bible pondered things or groaned in their hearts. I.e. silent prayers. silent prayers don't even have to have words because God understands our hearts. He is the author of the universe and can hear our thoughts and feeling without us uttering a word.

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Welcome to Chrstianity.SE. To make this answer better, maybe you could provide some examples. –  Greg Jan 10 '13 at 3:47
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I find it curious that no one mentions the one instance where a prayer is explicitly mentioned as being silent and it was answered.

1 Samuel 1:9-19 (NLT)
 9 Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle. 10 Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. 11 And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.”

 12 As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her. 13 Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. 14 “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!”

 15 “Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. 16 Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”

 17 “In that case,” Eli said, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.

 18 “Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad.

 19 The entire family got up early the next morning and went to worship the Lord once more. Then they returned home to Ramah. When Elkanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her plea, 20 and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.

Hannah's prayer was silent, but the Lord answered her with the birth of Samuel. Considering warren's answer, there is no reason not to believe that silent prayers are answered in modern times as well.

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Hannah's prayer was not necessarily silent - it could just as easily have been very quiet. Add to that the fact that Eli was old and hard of hearing, and it could just be he couldn't hear her: either way, nice reference :) –  warren Sep 27 '11 at 18:26
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Nehemiah 2:4 (NWT) In turn the king said to me: “What is this that you are seeking to secure?” At once I prayed to the God of the heavens.

It is not expected that Nehemiah prayed out loud to God in front of king Artaxerxes, but he probably made silent prayer.

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this may be the only instance of a recorded prayer that can be said was prayed silently ... though that's supposition :) –  warren Sep 27 '11 at 18:26
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protected by David Stratton Jan 10 '13 at 6:22

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