Monday, February 7, 2011

Less Prayer, Better Prayer

"When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking" (Matthew 6:7).
God is no more interested in rote and mindless verbal expressions from us than we are from each other. As the Lord Jesus Christ declared, it is a "heathen" notion that supposes our Heavenly Father hears our prayers because of their length and duration.
Regarding prayer, many believers sadly admit, "I don't pray enough." This may be true, but I grow more and more convinced as I consider Scriptural teaching on the matter that the truer confession should be "I don't pray well enough." The matter is not one of quantity, but of quality. Furthermore, our emphasis must never focus on our praying, but rather upon the Author, Empowerer and Answerer of our prayers. Genuine prayer is prayed from God far more than it is prayed to God. "Without Me, ye can do nothing" said the Lord Jesus (John 15:5). Few practices are more among the Savior's declaration of our inherent human weakness than the marvelous gift of communion with the infinite and almighty God.
True prayer is always a response to the moving of the Holy Spirit upon and within us. "Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father" (Galatians 4:6). As such, we should expect a deep sense of reverence to pervade our praying, a respect that precludes "vain repetition" and "much speaking." Just as would never approach a human authority figure with such disrespectful mindlessness, we "come boldly to the throne of grace" through Christ, but nevertheless with a sense of restraint that reveals awareness of God's magnificence and our frailty (Hebrews 4:16).
We shall not come to the end of our earthly journey overly concerned about how much we prayed, but rather how well we prayed. Indeed, the Apostle Paul's command to "pray without ceasing" will only be fulfilled as we emphasize the quality of our praying rather than its quantity (I Thessalonians 5:17). Few among us are capable of avoiding the discouragement and lack of interest that must inevitably accompany the emptiness of praying just to be praying, as it were. When, however, we pray as the expression of the Holy Spirit's leading and enabling fostered by better Biblical understanding of God and ourselves, prayer becomes the living and vibrant reality our Heavenly Father intends it to be. We will pray well, and we may well find ourselves praying more as "praying more" loses its deceptive place in our hearts and minds.
"Be ye therefore sober (of a sound mind), and watch unto prayer."
(I Peter 4:7)

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