Well Son, a couple days ago we were talking about prayer. I want to follow up on that while it's still fresh for us. And it's important that you get it straight in your mind and heart before anybody has a chance to confuse you with a lot of rules and opinions and nonsense. You see, like so many other things in life, people tend to make prayer more complicated than it needs to be.
I know sometimes at church it seems like the folks who pray out loud are performing for the crowd or trying to impress God with what they say. Sometimes it even seems like they believe the longer and harder they pray, the better chance they have of convincing Him to do what they want.
I don’t honestly believe that’s how it should be. I mean, how do we talk? We sit down together don’t we? And we spend time. And we tell each other what’s on our hearts. We’re honest with each other, right? Do you think God wants anything different?
Jesus said God is our Daddy and that’s how we should approach Him. I’m willing to take His word for that, even if it makes some religious folks crazy. (A lot of the things Jesus said and did made respectable religious folks crazy at the time. But that’s something we can talk about later.)
Jesus and his friends talked about this stuff a lot and I have to believe that at times he got frustrated with them, because they could be really thick. He tried to explain this prayer thing and God as Daddy. He told them that their Daddy loved them and would never give them something that would hurt them. He told them that if they really needed something, just ask…plain and simple. Yet they turned around and gave Him the old “Yes, but…”
In the end, they said, “Look, Jesus, can You teach us how to pray?”
I know you know this story. But I want you to understand the punch line. Jesus’ friends were raised thinking that the way to please God was to live according to the rules, and they had rules for just about everything. They didn’t know what to do with a God who you simply talked to and walked with. They wanted to know the rules on prayer. The correct formula to use.
His answer was to tell them there is no formula. There is no correct pattern. True prayer is about talking and spending time together. He told his friends to avoid coming to God over and over again repeating the same memorized phrases and prayers. It might make someone feel good about doing their religious duty, but it’s meaningless to God. And boring.
(Now here’s that punch line I was talking about. People have taken the story, pulled out the example prayer that Jesus gave, and turned it into a religious formula that they can pray over and over again word for word, doing the very thing He told them not to do. Amazing!)
I tend to think the actual conversation went a little more like this:
“So you want to know to pray? Fine. I’ll pray. You be quiet and eavesdrop.
Daddy, I know we don’t always talk in just this way, but I also know that you know they’re listening in trying to get this. So I want to start by acknowledging and thanking you that while you are in Heaven, you’re also right here with me. I want to thank you for that amazing fact. And I want you to know that I want everything about our relationship and how I represent you to always reflect how good and pure you are.
I can see the ways in which the world is in conflict with You and Your desires, and I want to be a part of the solution. I want to cooperate. Use me today. Let Your Perfect Ways break through!
You know my needs. Provide for me and my family today. That’s all I have to say about that.
I want to start the day with a clean slate. I forgive and let go of the wrongs that have been done to me. Please forgive me for the wrongs that I’ve done and the ways I’ve messed up.
Guide me today. Keep me out of situations where I might be tempted to do wrong and dishonor you. In any situation where I do end up going head to head with evil, pull me out a winner in Your power.
It’s easy to get confused and distracted, Daddy. But I know that there is a Plan that’s bigger than me. And I know that it’s GOOD! Because it’s Your Plan. And only You make it possible. And it will show everyone how truly great and wonderful You are. Now and forever! So let it be.”
So in talking about prayer, I guess the best thing I can do is point you back to Jesus and tell you to be real and speak your heart. I mean, who am I to argue with Him?
I hope this helps. We’ll talk more later. I love you.