There was an elderly, hard of hearing gentleman in the church I grew up in, who, when called on to pray, would pray long and loudly. You could almost feel the collective groan that would rise from the youth group. I know he had the utmost respect for the LORD and a genuine love for the people of the church, but as teenagers, we looked at his prayers as an agonizing ordeal. We had no appreciation for the life he had lived, and we didn’t really want to hear the needs of the church itemized. Now, I honestly don’t remember if he prayed for individual people or for the state of the church, the nation, and the world. We mostly tuned him out, preoccupied as we were with who we were sitting by or where the cute boys were sitting, or how long it would be until we could get something to eat. Were his prayers genuine, or was he like the Pharisees praying on the street corners, looking to impress the passersby? I believe he was genuine in his faith and his prayers, but to me, the real question today is how his prayers impacted others. Did he bring people to a closer relationship with GOD, or push them away with his long-windedness?
How do we pray today? When asked to pray, are your prayers designed to impress people? Are they really gossip disguised as prayers? Are they intended for GOD’s ears, or for other people? I like short and sweet, and I try hard to remember what JESUS said about prayer: “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 NIV
Jesus went on to teach His disciples (and us) how to pray. He taught them: “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our FATHER in heaven, hallowed be Your Name, Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly FATHER will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your FATHER will not forgive your sins.” – Matthew 6:9-10, 12-15 NIV (I think that last verse deserves some intense attention from us!)
Pray genuinely, with praise and supplication. Our GOD already knows what we want and, more importantly, He knows what we need. If you are in such a black hole, in such pain that you can’t think, just say ‘JESUS’. The Holy Spirit is here with us to carry even our groans and our cries of distress to the FATHER, and JESUS is there as our Advocate and SAVIOUR. Amen.
Listen to 7eventh Time Down sing “Just Say Jesus”