“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6.7-8)
I have a confession to make. The longer I am a Christian, the longer my prayers seem to get. I learnt to add “Christian terms” to make my prayers sound more convincing. For example, words like, “God, may Your name be glorified!” are great, but if God asks me, “What do you really mean by that?” I actually don’t have an exact answer.
I once volunteered at Alpha and there was a session on prayer. The Alpha video beautifully summarised how we should pray:
Keep it simple, keep it honest and keep it going.
Keep it simple: There is no need to use complicated and fancy words. Throughout His ministry, Jesus emphasised the importance of substance over form.
Keep it honest: “for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matthew 6.8). Praying is not so much about “asking” as much as it is an intimate conversation with God – and intimacy requires honesty.
Yet why do we have to tell God if He already knows? If you start your prayer by telling God how you feel, your posture will shift: the more you share, the more you want to share. It softens your heart, lowers your guard, and enables you to come as you are; and this is pleasing in God’s eyes.
Keep it going: Just as we should not just be a Sunday Christian and ignore Jesus for the rest of the week, we should also not just be a morning Christian and put God aside for the rest of the day. Try making small prayers throughout the day, relying on God for every big and small matter. Prayer is an ongoing, real-time dialogue with God. God is an active listener, but that is only something we can experience as an active speaker.
As we grow older, sometimes it becomes harder to keep our prayers short and sweet. We are tempted to complicate our prayers to impress people. We compare our prayers with others with the wrong motive to outperform others. We need to intentionally remind ourselves to remain humble and honest before God. Let’s return to the most basic yet enjoyable form of conversation with God – keep it simple, honest, and ongoing.
(Originally submitted as “Prayer Thoughts”, a weekly devotion by the Prayer Ministry of Island ECC)