“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.
But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, Who sees everything, will reward you.
When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him!” – Matthew 6:5-8 NLT
Did you grow up in a house where prayer was the norm, or was cursing at God the only ‘prayer’ you heard? I was taught that the ‘correct’ way to pray was to sit with head bowed and hands clasped in front of me, or on my knees with eyes closed and hands clasped; praying out loud, beginning with ‘Dear Heavenly Father’ and always ending with ‘Amen’. This definitely helped with my focus as a child, but do you think this is the only way to pray? We want to be reverent and humble when we pray, but I submit that we can pray anywhere, anytime, and with anyone. Prayer is simply having a conversation with the LORD. Prayer can happen while we are driving or working, in the classroom, or in any social setting, and I’m not talking about the ‘OH. MY. GOD.’ we frequently hear today.
Prayer; praying out loud, has its place, whether in church or out, but my focus here is really about conversing with GOD. Just talking. As I grow in faith, I realize that talking to GOD doesn’t need to be formal. I don’t need anyone else saying prayers for me in lieu of my own prayers (but I’m always happy to know that people are praying for me!) I just need to be having conversations with my LORD. Before getting out of bed in the morning, a quick “Thank You LORD for another day, Your Will be done today” helps my day start in the right direction. I whisper inaudible prayers all day – “LORD, I believe; help my unbelief” is one that I pray when faced things that are out of my control…. which is frequently! “Keep me safe on the roads.” “Bless [insert name]” ….. I actually try to pray this whenever my mind strays to someone who has hurt me. God knows quite well that what my human side really wants is to hurt that person back, but by asking Him to bless that person, I can receive God’s forgiveness and Grace.
Prayer shouldn’t be any more difficult than talking with your best friend. It shouldn’t stress us out, but thinking that we can only approach Him in a formal way, or through a priest or pastor, keeps us from knowing GOD and His will for us/me. Just talk to Him. I’ve started many conversations with Him by admitting I don’t know what to pray, that I don’t have any words. I know that’s okay, though, because even when we don’t have words, the Holy Spirit carries our groans, our needs to the Father. To teach us how to pray, JESUS gave us this, and we call it ‘The LORD’S Prayer.”
“Pray like this: Our FATHER in heaven, may Your Name be kept Holy. May Your Kingdom come soon. May Your Will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly FATHER will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your FATHER will not forgive your sins.” – Matthew 6:9-10, 12-15 NLT
There is tremendous power in prayer, whether it is you, alone by yourself, or together with fellow Christians, and regardless of whether words are spoken out loud or silently. Remember what JESUS said to His followers: “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, My Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as My followers, I am there among them.” – Matthew 18:19-20 NLT
My prayer is that my words today can help ease us all as we struggle through this life, because old or young or in between, prayer works. Don’t let selfish pride get in your way, thinking you’ll somehow do it wrong or embarrass yourself in your praying. That’s just the enemy trying to separate you from GOD! Amen.