When it comes to prayer, less can be more.
A few words expressed from the heart, can be far more meaningful and timely than an hour spent covering a long list of praises, confessions, requests, and intercessions.
Who hasn’t been bored to death by long prayers that are less than heart to heart communication?
We’ve been told otherwise. Many have won our silence and envy by saying that the busier we are, the longer we need to pray. They imply that if we are serious with God, we will show it by the amount of non-negotiable time we spend every day in prayer.
OK, then show us. Show us from the Bible that we really draw near to the heart of God by spending 3, 7, 10, 30, 60 or 90 minutes in prayer a day.
Don’t get me wrong. The Scriptures tell us to “pray without ceasing” (1Thess 5:17). But does praying for 90 minutes a day equal “praying without ceasing”? Or, could it mean that throughout our day we continue to breathe from our heart, expressions of gratefulness, dependence, and urgent requests to our ever-present Father?
Part of our religious culture ennobles and advances itself by calling us to pray all night, or for some other maximum or minimum amount of time.
But I’m guessing such voices are often playing to the crowd.
Paul prayed a lot. But any prayer we have of his is as short as it is inspired.
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he did not give them reason to believe more time is better. He told them not to adopt the pagan thinking that if we keep repeating our words– we’ll win God’s attention or approval (Matt 6:5-8).
Jesus taught us to pray from our heart, without trying to impress others, and to do so secretly… so as to come to terms with…Our relationship with him, and our interest in what is important to him.
How else can we explain his instruction:
“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Your’s is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (Matt 6:9-13).
Am I saying that this is all we should pray? What about prayers of thanksgiving, intercession, confession, and need? What about public prayer? I’d be a fool to discourage any honest expression of heart whether private or public.
But what I’d like to see us consider together is the kind of prayer that is far more about honoring our Father and loving others than it is about burdening one another with “weights and measures” of our prayer life that express far more “law” and “performance” than “grace”, “love”, and “relationship”.
If you disagree, I’ll listen… I don’t have prayer all figured out and certainly want it to be more of my life rather than less… which is one reason I think Jesus showed us that less can be more… If through considering this together, it becomes apparent that I’ve just expressed heresy– I’ll hit the delete button on this post tomorrow– or else let your corrections speak louder than my words…