Pray Very Simply
“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant… This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply.” Matthew 6:7-9 (The Message)
If God is your friend, prayer is your conversation. You don’t repeat the same thing every time you call your best friend. You probably speak casually about news and things important to you and to your friend. You ask questions and listen for answers. You tell your friend about your hurt feelings, your concerns, even your needs or those of your family and friends.
Children learn simple bedtime and mealtime prayers by heart, but as we mature spiritually we learn to pray from the heart. As we gain confidence in the character of God and his genuine love for us we boldly bring everything to him in prayer.
How often do you recite the Lord’s Prayer while thinking of something else? Jesus did not teach his disciples this prayer so they would memorize it and repeat it thoughtlessly. Rather he included all the elements God wishes to see in our prayers: Praise, thanks, requests for needs, confession, recognition of our need for his guidance and deliverance. It is a simple example of a fresh prayer.
In the book Left to Tell, Immaculee Illibagiza, shares how she prayed boldly when in serious peril during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. “Dear God, only You can save me. You promised to take care of me, God — well; I really need taking care of right now. There are devils and vultures at my back, Lord… please protect me. Take the evil from the hearts of these men, and blind their hatred with your holy love.” Now that is fresh, bold praying.
Can your prayer life use some freshening? What are some concerns you have not opened up to God? Can you find a place to be alone yet speak aloud to God – perhaps on a walk, or in the shower? You might also try writing your prayers in a journal, as if writing a letter to a friend. As your written prayers are answered, you can note that as a reminder of God’s faithfulness.
Lydia prayed regularly with others by the river, even before she heard the gospel. She may have prayed from the Psalms. How do you think her prayer life changed after she became a believer in the Lord?
O Lord, I call to you and you always hear. Let’s have a good conversation. Let me share all my joys and pains and fears with you. Show me your way, and help me live like that. Amen.
Psalm 5:1-2 “Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my sighing. Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray.” (NRSV)
Psalm 69:13 “But I pray to you, Lord, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation. “
Matthew 6:9-13 “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 debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.””
(Immaculee Ilibagiza, Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust (Hay House Press) (1/16/06))