How many times have you heard someone praying, and they seem to go on, and on, and on andonandonandon……sometimes stopping to think of what to say, maybe to take a breath, as if they need to be like King Solomon or Elijah.
I have also heard people praying and interjecting “Father God” or “Lord God” over and over, every other word.
Hey- He knows who He is, OK?
I may be upsetting some people with this little pet peeve of mine, especially those that like to pray as if there is nothing else to do, but I believe the bible supports my feelings: prayer should be honest, direct and from the heart. Too many people pray from their head, meaning they try to speak in King James bible-ese, with flourishing speech, like some Shakespearean actor on the stage.
In Matthew 6:6-13 Yeshua told us what and how to pray:
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 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. 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. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Many interpretations use “debt” instead of “trespass”, but I believe trespass is the correct interpretation because in the First Century that meant to sin against someone. The fact that verse 14 confirms that if we do not forgive on Earth those who sin against us we will not be forgiven in heaven is why I believe this verse is not about debt but about forgiveness.
This prayer is simple, and it serves as a template for any prayer we make.
We should start with recognizing who and what God is as we approach Him. Psalms 120 to 134 all start with the words “A Song of Ascents” and there have been different interpretations of what this means. I believe the teaching these specific psalms were sung as the Cohanim (Priests) ascended the steps towards the altar is correct. Each one is sung on a different step as the Cohan is bringing the sacrifice to God.
That is why our prayer should always start with recognition of God, like the Priest bringing the sacrifice to the altar, praising God before before anything is asked of Him, to show our respect and reverence for Him.
After we have recognized God’s goodness and awesomeness, then we can ask for ourselves. We should ask only for what we need, and only for now. We do not need to ask for anything past today, because tomorrow is up to God and we should trust that He will do for us tomorrow just as He will do for us today.
And when we ask to be forgiven, we need to be forgiving, as well, because our own forgiveness will be held against us. That is what the verse that says ‘forgive us as we forgive others’ means- judge us as we judge, forgive us the same way we forgive others, and if we don’t forgive others, well…we’re up the creek without a paddle. Why? Because we have told God not to forgive us if we refuse to forgive others.
And that will be all on our own head- no one else to blame for that one.
When Moses’s big sister was white as death because she spoke out against him, what was the prayer Moses presented to God? Was it long and drawn out? Was it with flourishes and beautiful language? Nope! When Moses sees his sister looking like death, he prays to God this way (Numbers 12:13):
So Moses cried out to the LORD, “Please, God, heal her!”
That’s it- four words. But those four words speak volumes to God, for they are straight from Moses’ heart. They were all that he needed to say, and all that God needed to hear to answer him.
When we pray we should pray quietly, from the heart, and tell God only what we want, which should be within His will for us or others. When we pray as intercessors, we don’t need to babble on- pray to God that ‘whatever needs to be taken care of be done so, and swiftly, in Yeshua’s name. Amen.’
That’s it- that’s all you need to do. Yeshua tells us two important things:
- Don’t go on like the pagans, thinking that the more you talk the more He’ll listen, and;
- God already knows what you want and what you need.
So when you pray, pray as God wants you to, and as His son tells you you should. Prayer should follow the KISS rule:
Keep It Simple, Schlemiel!
So, to follow my own advice, I’m done.