Does it matter how we pray?

I’ve been a bit discouraged about prayer because people pray so much better than I do. Their prayers in public are so much better thought out and far more fluent, and they cover everything so beautifully. Some of them also join prayer groups for “intercessory prayer,” or go on to write books about prayer, and tell of their own wonderful experiences with prayer, the importance of prayer, why it must be done, and how to pray to get results. But after reading some of these books and joining a prayer group I sometimes feel I’ve never prayed a proper prayer in my life, because I don’t pray like these people do.

But then I think of my children and grandchildren and how each of them talk to me. They’re all different. There’s no one accepted way that they must all comply with to get my attention, or to impress me enough to get me to act. They don’t have to speak to me in a special voice or prepared sentences, or follow any steps or rituals to get me to answer, nor do they need to go on and on about something to force my hand to give them what they ask for.

I’m their Dad and Grandpa and that’s all the guarantee they need that I’m listening, and if there’s a need I’m all ears, and I’m right onto it to help where I can. And if I’m capable of doing that, which most of the time I am, barring the usual interruptions and fatigue, then I look to God to be the same way to me. And Jesus backed that up too. If WE know how to give good gifts to our children, he said, then “how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11. We’ve got a Father in heaven who LOVES being a Dad.

And like all Dads God has a different relationship with each of his children, a unique, special relationship with each child that none of the others have. To God every prayer from all his wonderful variety of children is like sweet perfume, so clearly he loves it when we pray, but especially when we pray OUR way, with our own unique way of talking to him. For parents it’s lovely listening to their children talk, with all their unique ways of viewing things and describing them. I kept a running list of my children’s sayings, all unique to them and often wonderfully funny. And if I did that, think of the fun God has with us.

Does it matter, then, how we pray? No. Just pray our way.

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