When you pray, don’t talk on and on as people do who don’t know God. They think God likes to hear long prayers. Matthew 6:7 (CEV)

Two men prepare to enter the sanctuary. One walks boldly to the front. Well dressed and confident he lifts his eyes to heaven and begins to talk. Those around him listen carefully and are impressed with his words. He is, to them at least, obviously a very spiritual man. A few in attendance nod in agreement to his words. Others hope that one day they too will be able to pray like he does.

The second man goes largely unnoticed. He walks, almost stumbles as a drunk, towards the front. His chin rests on his chest. He dare not look up. He quietly finds a place in the corner pew. A few give him a passing glance and look away. He’s recognized but not acknowledged. It’s been years since he was here. It’s been longer than that since he’d prayed. Looking at the floor he looks for the words. They don’t come. How did he get here? More importantly, how can he come back? Will God even accept him?

Finally he speaks. His words go unnoticed for they are quiet, humble and simple words. “Oh God…I’m sorry,” was all he could muster up to say.

Jesus says the second man, not the first will have his prayer heard. The pious prayer, the lengthy prayer full of theological mumble jumble may impress men, but not God. Listen to your prayers sometime. If you talked with your lover the way you talk with God what would your love relationship be like? If during your times of passion with the one who means more to you than life itself you said the same words, in the same tone as yesterday and the day before and the day before, would you be sincere?

There are some that say God doesn’t answer prayer, that he’s distant, uninterested or that their prayers never go beyond the ceiling. The sad thing is, they are probably correct. For unless we have a personal relationship with Jesus, the Father can’t hear our prayers, unless they are sincere, heartfelt prayers of repentance. They are meaningless babble.

Even those of us who are Christ-followers need to evaluate our prayer life.  Your Heavenly Father would rather you just talk with him than have you pray to him. I’ve heard parents pray with their children and use it as an opportunity to tell their child what he needs to do. I’ve heard pastors use the ‘closing prayer’ as an opportunity to get the last point of their sermon in. I’m embarrassed to admit that at times my prayers turn into a wandering treatise with no direction.

What would our churches, our homes, our families be like if we as Christ-followers learned how to talk with God as two passionate lovers talk during those intimate times of life? How would we change? How would our view of God change? How would we see God move in miraculous and powerful ways?

One of the most meaningful prayers I’ve ever heard was the time a friend of mine laid his hand on my shoulder and in broken words said simply, “I…I…don’t have words. God, I pray for Mike.” It wasn’t fancy. It was a prayer of love from the heart that rose to heaven like a sweet aroma to the God of the universe.

PRAYER: Father God. Daddy. I come before you humbly. I pray for me. I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I ask that you would forgive those of us who have never learned to sit and passionately talk with you. Empower us with your Spirit to have the desire to sit and chat with you so that we can see your power manifest in us like we have never seen before. In your most holy and righteous name, Amen.

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