You wouldn’t think we would need a “how-to” guide for something like a simple conversation but apparently we do.

Matthew 6:5-8 5 “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 men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 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. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” 

It seems very clear and absolutely painfully obvious to me that we Christians are completely off-the-chain weird. Imagine how we would look at a swimmer who was afraid to get in the water. They wouldn’t be much of a swimmer now, would they? Or imagine how odd it would be for an accountant to freeze up and not know how to act if he were asked to do addition and subtraction in public. As goofy as both of those scenarios sound, we are right up there with them. We have this hang-up on how to pray.

We are so worried that we’re going to do it wrong, or (gasp) be asked to do it in front of people. Jesus, I’m sure directed by his father, actually went so far as to give us instructions in the book of Matthew on how to do it. Not only how, but where and whether we needed to make sure other people saw us do it (we don’t). We’re given step by step, very plain, clear directions and still we get all janky about it. Why?

Do we think that since God knows what we need that if we miss something we’ll be in trouble? Are we afraid that at the day of reckoning Saint Peter will open up a book, gaze down sternly at us as he runs his finger down the page and say, “Hmm, looks to me like on September 5th you forgot to thank God for your spouse and ask for forgiveness for that little tirade at Applebee’s. You remember the one where they didn’t give you the 50% off on the appetizer, don’t you?” No, that sounds silly too, doesn’t it? It does until we’re tongue-tied at Small Group or bashful at the dinner table. We have no idea what to say and we’re absolutely sure we’re blowing it. It’s really incredible if you think about it and there’s our true problem.

We think about it. We insert our brain where the only thing that matters is our heart. See, I don’t think prayer comes so much from the head as it does from the thing in our chest. I think you have to open that organ up, speak from it and not worry so darn much about what comes out and when you’re done, just quit. I mean an “amen” can come in anywhere. If you’re worried you missed something, don’t be. God will put that back on your heart and your heart will get in touch with your head and later on, when you’re alone, in that quiet space, like you’re supposed to be, you can let those words out because according to Matthew, that’s how you’re supposed to do it anyway. It’s not rocket science. Thank God

Why do you think we get so hung up about prayer? What’s the longest prayer you’ve ever had to endure? (Seems like as a kid these things went on forever)


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