Monday, May 23, 2016
In His Sermon on the Mount, and teaching about prayer in particular, Jesus said: “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” (Matthew 6:7-8 KJV) More than 2000 years have passed since Jesus uttered these words and there are still many people today who actually believe that the more they repeat a known prayer before Him, the more God will be pleased, or the better the chances that their prayers will be heard. I suspect there may be times when God understands or allows word repetition. Here is one example: If we are in pain or in danger, we are going to ask the Lord to help us over and over again. I remember many years ago visiting with and praying for a little girl in the hospital who I believe broke the world’s record for saying “it hurts!” Therefore, there may be times when in our prayers we may say "it hurts" or "I'm scared" over and over again.
Let’s put this situation into an every-day-life context: Suppose I want to please or praise my earthly father. I go before him and tell him the same sentence over and over again. After hearing me say the same thing about three times, he would probably say something like: “What’s the matter with you?” Prayer is nothing more than coming before our Heavenly Father to have a conversation with Him. We speak to Him in the same way we speak to our earthly father. I’ll admit that sometimes in their public prayers, ministers, me included, feel tempted to do it in the King James version, sensing it will have a better effect. That is absolutely not necessary, and neither is the length of our prayers.
I was reading with interest recently the account in1 Kings 18, about the day the prophet Elijah publicly prayed to God and in a moment, fire came down from Heaven. If you repeat the actual prayer yourself, it will take you less than 30 seconds. (See verses 36-39) It is very unlikely that you and I will ever need something as drastic as that, but if fire can be summoned from Heaven with a short prayer such as that, it is obvious that the length of our prayers have very little bearing. An extra long session of prayer and meditation with God, however, can never be a bad thing, especially when it is done with a grateful, loving, and sincere heart. By all means, let’s pray as long as we want, but lets not be like those who mistakenly pray long because they think it will please God more.
Memory verse for the week: (James 5:16 NIV) “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
(note) Excuse the late post. I tried sending this blog early this morning but my mail server did not cooperate.