Jesus said, “When you are at prayer, don’t engage in mindless repetition like non-Jews do, for they suppose that they will be listened to because they speak at great length.”
— Matthew 6:7 (USC)
Less is more, both on earth and in heaven, it seems.
What might not even be expressed with words has a weight of worthiness a hundred-fold worthier in significance. So it is with prayer.
We are connected with the Lord our God whatever we think or do with that. The very fact we live – and share in this thing called existence – where perceptions run rife and we are so affected by everything around us – means we already relate with God.
But do we commune with him?
God is listening to our every word and thought in any event. Do we dignify our Lord by actually acknowledging his Presence? Will we have our deeds sanctified by divine consideration? Are our thoughts brought captive in obedience with Christ?
Prayer is not only useful, it’s an imperative for the Christian. How else are they to know their Lord? And knowing him is not dominating the conversation – indeed, how fortunate are we that God speaks to us!
A good prayer will hardly be repetitious. As we search for the words to say, or we express ourselves mindfully – apprehending the heart and making it bear on the mind – we speak without knowing what we will say next. But if we do repeat our words and have our hearts attuned we are not being verbose for the sake of repetition.
In any event, what we pray affects how we will pray as the Holy Spirit does business with us.
What Jesus must want most of all in his believers is the will to pray from the heart.
If we pray in all honesty, with a mind full of integrity for what we are saying and for whom we are talking to, we will say no more and no less than what needs to be said.
Our God is listening to us.
He wants to honour our requests and our pleas as much as he wants to receive our thanks and praise. Our opportunity is to communicate with God just as we would like to be communicated with.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. What is it like to pray? How do you experience yourself talking with God? Do you find yourself saying ‘wrong’ things? If so, what do you think God thinks about this? (Can we ever get prayer wrong?)
2. Without feeling under pressure to get our prayers out succinctly, how do we get to the point when speaking with God? Is it okay if we take a while to express what we are really trying to say?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr. Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.