When you pray, don't babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Matthew 6:7
When I was a young follower of Jesus, I remember the pressure that I felt when I had to pray in public. I would be scared of how people might see me or respond to my prayer. I can think back to the moments in my youth group where the pastor would single me out, and I would struggle to find the words. I would make the prayer more about myself, or I would try to say something funny so that everyone would laugh. I totally missed the purpose of prayer when I was younger. Then, when I was a young adult and asked to pray, I would often pray long extended prayers, thinking the longer I prayed, the more people would respect me. This too caused me to miss the purpose and intent of how Jesus taught us to pray.
What I missed when I was young was that Jesus dealt directly with the length and the sincerity of our prayers. In fact, before Jesus even shared about prayer, He had some specific instructions for the disciples. He starts Matthew 6 by warning us that prayer isn't to be showy or about making a name for yourself. He encouraged the disciples to not stand on the street corners, praying like the Pharisees. Instead, He told them "But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private." (Matthew 6:6) Anytime that we pray to make ourselves look better, we lose the reward and the intimacy that God offers. Then, Jesus went on to explain that we shouldn't drone on and on in prayer. He knew that the pagans and the Gentiles would often pray for hours on end, thinking they were somehow earning favor from the gods by the length of their prayers. Jesus encouraged the disciples to value the sincerity of their prayers over their length.
This is why we continually encourage people to pray short and brief prayers all day long before God. There are times where we need to set aside time to cast our cares upon God and to do some work searching the Scripture and praying over big decisions. Other times though, praying a sincere prayer for 30 seconds is more powerful than a 3-hour prayer session. It only takes 30 seconds to read through the example Jesus gave us with the Lord's Prayer. The power of our prayers is not in their length, but rather in the One who we are praying to. Make time to keep your conversation with God going all day long.
Here is our challenge today, if you choose to accept it. Set your watch alarm or smartphone to go off in 30-minute increments. Every time the alarm goes off spend 30 seconds praying to God. Acknowledge His place in heaven, confess your inadequacies, thank Him for being in control, and ask Him for what you need. Do this for the whole day and see how God might change your perspective.
Read Matthew 6:5-14 (NLT)
“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.May your Kingdom come soon.May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.Give us today the food we need,and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.
©2022 Sagebrush Church