Have you ever considered how you’ve come to view prayer and how you actually pray? When I hear Jesus talking about prayer and observe the glimpses that we see in the Gospels of the New Testament, I wonder if what we so often do is the same as the prayer Jesus is talking about. The most common thread to his prayer life is solitude. We don’t do much of that. And he seems to suggest the best approach for us. “Go into your closet and close the door so no one can see,” he told us.
“And, by the way, your Heavenly Father already knows what you need, so, don’t be long-winded and repetitive,” he said.
One of the attacks of evil is making us think that prayer is primarily of the mind – “speaking with God” or “thinking about God” or “talking to God.” We have placed such a high value on mastering the world through the intellect that our view of prayer has evolved into a mind game with God. Some how we have gotten the idea that the theological correctness or the order of our prayers is really, really important. I can almost hear Jesus say, “my dear children, speak from your heart.”
Reading a prayer that someone else has written is perhaps helpful at times to help us put words to our feelings, but at some point we have to go “off script” and improvise from how we are really feeling and what we are desiring. In order for us to freely do that we must know deeply that we are beloved of God.
Perhaps we should all take as our nickname – Jedidiah! The name means “loved by God” or “beloved of God.” We named our third son Jedidiah the day after he was born. We searched for another “J” name and discovered a great story and truth from the life of King David. Here’s the scripture reference from 2 Samuel chapter 12:
24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The Lord loved him; 25 and because the Lord loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah.
Unless we hear the voice of God calling to us in love, we will try to hide behind the “right words” and the correct theology when we sit in his presence or come to him in prayer. You may come to him thinking you are Jack or Sylvia, but remember that God has given you a nickname – Beloved! And he wants to hear the simple or the sophisticated words from you. Not the formulaic or repetitious, but the dialogue of your heart. He is there. He is near.