‘When you pray, do not use a lot of meaningless words, as the pagans do, who think that their gods will hear them because their prayers are long. Do not be like them. Your Father already knows what you need before you ask him.’ (verses 7,8)
Read Matthew 6:7-15
Have you heard the shortest prayer ever? It’s a beauty, a grace before food: ‘Ta, Pa’.
What a contrast to those prayers so full of big words you need a dictionary to translate them. Or prayers that seem to name-drop all over the place, from the president of the United States to the local MP to old Mrs Doddle who’s turning ninety. And prayers that go on and on and on . . . It might be a fine prayer, except by the end no-one’s awake to notice.
Jesus says, when you pray, keep it simple. Don’t show off. It’s a conversation, so don’t mess around with poshy language; talk to God like you’d talk to a friend. Tell God what’s going on: the things causing you pain, the things that make you happy, the things you’re worrying about, the things you’re grateful for. Don’t get caught up with a shopping list of things you want. God knows what you need and has already promised to look after you.
Most important of all, don’t hog the conversation. Be prepared to be quiet and listen. Then you’ll hear God respond to you, personally, in the way that’s right for you at this time in your life. Could be a good time for you to pray that little prayer too, ‘Ta, Pa’.
God, I’m sorry for the times I bug you with my big lists of all the things I want. You already handle that. Help me, instead, to chat. And listen. And enjoy. Amen.
“Direction for each day” (LCA, Openbook Publishers, 2006)
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