If you were in church with us last Sunday, you know that I’ve been battling a cold for the past several days. I had something of a voice on Sunday, but by the following day, my entire voice was gone. Have you ever had that experience – where you can whisper, but not much more comes out? Well, as the day wore on, I began to think about just how “noisy” I usually am – especially before the Lord.
Now, I’m a pretty quiet guy, most of the time. But I do have an interesting habit of talking to myself. And I love to sing, as well; any time there’s a song stuck in my head, I’ll end up singing or humming the tune to myself. But none of that happened on Monday! It was very strange to go an entire day saying virtually nothing.
I believe the same thing often happens when we go to the Lord in prayer. Our prayers can be awfully noisy sometimes, full of words and vain repetition. Jesus once said something about how we should pray: take a look at Matthew 6:5-8. This brief passage comes just before the well-known “Lord’s Prayer,” but I think most Christians remember the famous prayer while they forget the preceding verses.
In this passage, Jesus is calling us to avoid making a showcase of our prayers. We should not pray so that we appear holy and righteous in front of other people. Instead, we should pray very simple prayers that get right to the point, because “our Father knows what we need before we ask him.”
That really puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? The next time you settle down for prayer, try this on for size: spend a minute or two in silence, allowing your heart to thank God for his goodness and faithfulness. It might be hard to be silent for sixty seconds or more, but with practice I think you will find that it can make your prayer time more peaceful, powerful, and effective. Give it a shot!