I have worked in children’s ministry for 17 years, and the most common thing I see is a child that does not know how to pray. There are a couple reasons why this may happen; they just may be a shy child and they feel uncomfortable praying in front of other people. Another reason may be that they just don’t know how to pray or what to say. I was a shy child, but when I could have some time alone with God and talk to Him alone, I felt very comfortable. If I had to pray in front of people, I lost all my words and became very nervous. I think sometimes in church we make people feel like there is a magic formula to pray, and we forget that we are talking to God. It is kind of like taking a language class; you are taught the formal way to speak in that language but you are not taught the slang or common everyday way people may talk in that language. So we approach prayer with uncertainty of what to say because we may not say it correctly. Yes, our God is holy and is the King of Kings; however, He is also our Father. Yes, we need to approach Him with awe and an understanding that He is all powerful, but we need to remember that we do get to approach His throne in honesty of who we are. If we can remember that God wants us to converse with Him, we can keep ourselves from being entirely intimidated. Today and tomorrow, I want to look at what Jesus said about prayer; please turn to Matthew 6:5-8.
This section of scripture explains why some of people may be uncomfortable praying out loud in front of other people. Prayer can be a very intimate time with God and it is not to be used as a show of “holiness.” I am not by any means saying that we shouldn’t pray corporately, because corporate prayer is very important and I will be exploring that later this week. I am just saying that our time alone with God is precious and intimate and it was meant to be that way. If the only time we prayed was in public, we wouldn’t get to experience the intimacy of pouring out our souls to God. There are things we can hash out with God in private that we just cannot and should not do in public. For me, a closer relationship with God and a better understanding of who I am in Him is a wonderful reward.
The other point I want to make is found in verses 7-8 when Jesus said, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” I love that! We don’t need formality and long words and fancy prayers for our Father to hear us, and I love the fact that He already knows what we need. He just wants to hear us. It is like my marriage; I know my husband loves me, but I certainly enjoy hearing him tell me that he loves me. God knows our heart (better than we know our own heart) yet He still enjoys hearing us talk to Him from our hearts. Knowing that God wants to talk with you is so special; doesn’t that make you want to spend time with Him alone?
Are you spending some time alone with God? Are you spending time to pray privately and developing a closer relationship with God? Do you believe that God wants time with you?