There are many times when I begin to pray from an earnest place of deep-felt need, only to find that the words bloat into superficial adornments meant to sway God to my point of view. What a low view I take when I try to flower my petitions and thanksgivings with phony panache. When God speaks, creations result. When I do, I fairly run out of breath.

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but here is my faulty rationale: Given that the very Maker of Heaven and Earth is my audience, and since my commonplace words reveal inadequate reverence, I must embellish in order to impress and be heard. Pathetic, I know. For no matter how eloquent I think I’m praying–Oh, all-conquering Father, triune God, and Author of all that is mighty and wonderful, whose very omniscience foreordained my providential existence, blah, blah, blah (you get the picture)–in reality, I’m speaking as one with an inferiority complex, puffing up to try to earn a security and significance that are already mine. I should know better. I don’t need to prove my worth to win God over. Jesus already did that for me. Nor do I need to extract my acceptance from Him. I simply receive it. Humbling.

Jesus warned, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7). The meaning is clear: Long or expressive prayers are not the problem. The babbling is.

Whether my petitions are bathed in heartfelt ornament, or delivered with unvarnished simplicity (Help me, Lord! Yes I am willing. Thank you, Jesus.), it is the authenticity and love behind those words that determine their worth. God listens for the plain-spoken truths of the heart and responds in kind. Thus there is no need to affect fanciful prayers–to wave and wheeze to get God’s attention. I can just talk. For every time that I remember this and speak straight from my heart, it is always a relaxing, spontaneous process. Truly, such honest prayers are as natural as breathing.

I hope this encourages you to talk with God today.

-Kevin Murray
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