Short prayers are best
they come without imposing conditions on God.
I used to be in awe of people who could stand up in a prayer meeting and pray long eloquent prayers. Petitions to god flowed from their lips like liquid. These people obviously had a better relationship with God than I did.
Other people were more formal, using words from books, other people’s words. Was this a sign that they had no personal relationship with God?
I have seen those who pray well pray a number of times, and have come to see that many of them pray to formulae, They always have something to pray for because they always pray the same, except for the specific parts. They have a prayer for all seasons which only takes minor adjustments to fit any circumstance.
Also there is often a quiet reverence found in those who pray traditional prayers.
Then there’s those who pray like the Spice Girls:
Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want
So tell me what you want, what you really, really want
I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want
So tell me what you want, what you really, really want*
Is this what some prayers sound like, probably not, but I could make it more realistic by adding the word just and many times as I have just, really said really. That’s better.
If you haven’t got what I’m saying yet, these are the people who really just start to pray without really having any idea what they will just pray for. So they just pad it out, really, with words like really, just and Lord while the idea comes into their head.
I am not really mocking these people, they are praying, which is good.
Jesus’ disciples wanted to know how to pray. Luke tells us that one of the disciples had seen the disciples of John praying and wanted to pray like that. Maybe he liked their eloquence, or their quiet formality, or that they were able to extemporise prayers on the spot. Jesus said, pray like this:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.**
- It is a relationship—Father
- Tell God who he is—hallowed be your name
- Pray God’s promises back at him
- Pray for needs, forgiveness and help, but don’t forget that being forgiven is ties to repenting, changing the way you do things.
And a hint from me, In a liturgical service, if you are leading intecessory ptayers there is no need to repeat the liturgy.
Keep it simple and make sure your motive is right. Jesus had things to say about people showing off in the way they prayed. He was not being nice when he said it. If you don’t keep it short you run the risk of putting conditions or limitations on God.
*Wannabe, written by the Spice Girls, Richard Stannard, and Matt Rowe
** Luke 11:2-4 ESV UK