Keep Prayer Simple & Honest – Matthew 6:7-8
How should we pray? Matthew 6:7-8 lays out a basic principle to keep in mind when learning how to pray. Keep your prayer simple and honest. God knows our hearts and what we have on your minds. The Holy Spirit fills in the blanks when we don’t know what to say.
7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
This applies to me because I suffer from something called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). What does that have to do with anything? Well, often my prayers are long and drawn out because OCD tells me I have to pray a certain way, a certain number of times, and/or repeat myself over and over. While my heart and motives are true, this is far from a Biblical and correct way to pray. I mentioned in the introduction how I want honest prayer and time with the Lord.
OCD so often undermines me so that instead of having honest, joyful, peace filled conversation with God, it is riddled with rituals and repetitiveness to ensure that I’ve “prayed correctly”. It has seriously hurt my relationship with the Lord, to the point that many times, I’m anxious or even afraid to pray because I know what it can lead to. This is exactly what satan wants, to separate me from God as much as possible.
Thankfully, Jesus tells us how to pray in Matthew 6:5-14. I am taking much comfort and stock in these verses. It is a lie to believe that God won’t listen, or forgive me of a sin, or bless me, if I don’t pray it a certain way, a certain number of times. In fact, it is likely disrespectful. One wouldn’t have a conversation with another person like this, that person would get extremely annoyed. If my son came to me in need, I would not require him to ask in a certain way, or a number of times. This makes me think of Matthew 7:11.
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Besides, your Father knows what you need before you ask him. He knows my heart, struggles, desires, concerns and motives. He knows what I NEED, and He promises that he wants good for me over and over in His Word, if I just follow Him and His plans and submit my life to Him. Another promise I take huge relief in, control of my life. I’ve learned that whether I think I am in control or not, ultimately God is, and I can trust Him with everything in my life. I would much rather He take that burden than me carry it. It removes so much unneeded worry and stress when you give up control and say “Thy will be done Lord”.
In applying these verses, for me, when I pray I think about Jesus’ words and it reminds me that He is truth, not OCD. To have real, honest, and fruitful prayer, it is much simpler, enjoyable and correct to follow His standards, not mine, not OCD’s, and certainly not evil’s.
Knowing that God knows what I need before I even ask is so comforting. The Bible also says that the Spirit will intercede for us when we don’t know how or what we should say. To sum up, these verses command me to pray appropriately and trust in the Lord and His goodness and omnipotence, not in vain repetition. I believe this will help a lot of things in my life to fall into place, when I can speak freely and lovingly with my creator.
I’ll leave you with a quote from the great Charles Spurgeon.
To repeat a form of prayer a very large number of times has always seemed to the ignorantly religious to be a praiseworthy thing; but assuredly it is not so. It is a mere exercise of memory, and of the organs of noise-making: and it is absurd to imagine that such a parrot exercise can be pleasing to the living God. The Mahometans and Papists keep to this heathenish custom; but we must not imitate them.
God does not need us to pray for his information, for he “knoweth what things ye have need of”; nor to repeat the prayer over and over for his persuasion, for as our Father he is willing to bless us. Therefore let us not be superstitious and dream that there is virtue in “much speaking”. In the multitude of words, even in prayer, there wanteth not sin.
Repetitions we may have, but not “vain repetitions”. Counting beads, and reckoning the time occupied in devotion, are both idle things. Christians’ prayers are measured by weight, and not by length. Many of the most prevailing prayers have been as short as they were strong.