man wearing long sleeved shirt sitting
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”  (Matthew 6:5-8)
My prayer life is a work in progress.  Truth be told, I’ve struggled with it my whole life.  I admire those whose prayers seem to come so naturally.  I guess part of it is an occupational hazard: pastors are so often called on to say prayers in public that are supposed to be eloquent and “put together.”  <sigh>

But I’ve learned something: It’s not about trying to impress God with my prayers.  That’s not the point.  He wants me to be honest, straight-forward, and sincere.  And so my prayers have gotten much shorter!   In fact, when I don’t know what to pray, I tend to repeat the Kyrie:  “Lord, Have Mercy.  Christ, Have Mercy.  Lord, Have Mercy.”

I’ve also learned that when it comes to prayers, the old Nike slogan is probably best:  Just do it!  Maybe it’s a few words in the car on the way to work; a few moments of silence after the dinner prayer to thank God for other blessings besides the food; a heartfelt plea in the middle of the work day for help, for strength, for mercy!  Instead of waiting for your prayer life to be all that it can be, perhaps just work on talking to your Father whenever you can with whatever words you can muster.

As much as my prayer life is a work in progress, I’ll assure you of this much: the older I get the more I realize what a privilege it is to come to my God in prayer, knowing that He hears me for Christ’s sake.

It’s not about impressing God or others.  It’s not about fancy or voluminous words.  It’s about a relationship with a Dad who loves you and hears and answers.  God help us to pray!

Heavenly Father, You have invited us to pray and promised to hear and answer.  By Your Spirit, increase in us the desire to turn to You in all circumstances.  Help us to see prayer as a gift of Your Grace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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