Kick the Habit of Pointless Prayer

What if you woke every morning and said something like this to your wife:
“Good morning dear.  I trust that you slept well.  I hope that you have a wonderful day full of happiness.  Be safe and apply yourself well.  Manage the house with diligence.  I love you.”

I mean you said that same thing – exactly – every morning.  Same words, same meter, same inflection.  I’ll bet her heart would be overflowing, wouldn’t it?  Wouldn’t that sound sincere?

It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  And cold and impersonal and meaningless.  Yet we do this every day in our homes and every Sunday at church.  We say the same thing, the same way.  Could your kids chant along with your prayers at dinner, or the ones given from the stage at church?  Maybe that’s not such a good thing.

Consider the following examples:

  • “Lord, we just come to you at this time”
  • “Thank you for all the blessings you give us”
  • “Please grant travelling mercies to the Reeds as they drive this weekend”
  • “Be with John today, Lord”
  • “Help me today in my walk with you”

These all sound incredibly mechanical.  And to be honest, I don’t even know what some of them mean.   But this has almost become our liturgy.  Speaking this way, for many people, is what is perceived as spiritual maturity.  But it’s not!  It’s spiritual idiocy.

Jesus told us to come like children.  He said the kingdom of heaven belongs to those such as these.  Does he mean small people?  Uneducated people?  Immature people?  No! He means unindoctrinated people!  People without preconceived ideas.  People without a lingo that does not appear in the bible.  People without expectations.  People without religious pride.  Children don’t have pet phrases.  They just talk!  They say what they mean.  They use the words they know.  We could learn from this.

What if your prayers were more like this:

  • “Lord – thanks for that bonus that enabled us to pay off our credit card!”
  • “Thank you for the blessing of a warm house, health, safety, and a loving family.”
  • “Please protect us today as we run our errands, and help to keep mommy alert when she drives.”
  • “God – give us wisdom in our finances so we can live within our means”
  • “Help me Lord to be like you.  Replace my wicked heart with one like yours.  Help me to see things the way you do.”

I’m not suggesting that you copy these – just that you talk to God!

Just like your wife, God would prefer that you be sincere.  My wife knows when I’m not fully participating in a conversation (and calls me on it!)  Should we think that God is any less aware?

Don’t parrot back churchy phrases you have picked up along the way.  God loves you regardless how you pray, but if your prayers make sense, maybe he’ll feel like you are actually making an effort to have a relationship rather than just checking ‘Pray to God’ off of your list.

What do you think?