I remember the first time I ever heard an "unspoken" prayer request. I was sitting in a classroom at a Christian school (when in high school) and the teacher was asking for requests. One person said, "Unspoken." I suppose he didn't want to tell everyone else what was going on in that situation.
I can understand why a high school student would say "unspoken." However, it troubles me that in the church we have many problems in our lives that we do not share with others. In fact, we don't even say "unspoken." We just keep our problems to ourselves.
Of course we will share our physical maladies with others. But, will we share our financial problems, marital problems, parenting problems, financial problems, chronic sin problems, etc. with others? Are we willing to get real with others so that they can encourage and pray for us?
On the flip side, do we want others to share their deepest problems with us? Do we even want to know them that well?
If a church is a family, which it should be, then we need to be real with one another. In order to do this, we must be willing to let down our defenses and tell others our struggles.
A related issue is that much modern church structure is not designed to foster family-type relationships. Churches that are large and program-driven often give little opportunity for folks to truly get to know one another at more than a surface level.
So maybe the "unspoken" issue is less a problem with individuals and more a problem with institutional church structure. My guess is that many people who have unspoken prayer needs (whether voiced as "unspoken" or not) would be much more willing to share in a small group, familial, church setting.
What does "unspoken" tell us? Maybe is lets us know that something just isn't right with the way our church operates.