Our family watches a three-year-old named Jackson. He’s been coming here a day or two each week since he was three months old. During that time, he has grown to love family meal times. He loves to help set the table and make sure each person is in their place. In our family, we each take a turn praying for the meal. We’ve never made him say anything, but have taught him to bow his head with us and wait patiently while we pray. Occasionally, he’ll say “amen” with us, but that’s the extent of his participation. So, we were surprised to have him say it was his turn a few times last week. The first day, his prayer was rather unintelligible. But the next day, his prayer was very clear.
“Dear God, look at me. Amen!” he proudly exclaimed.
We tried to contain our laughter so we wouldn’t discourage him, but that was not an easy task! We were just so excited that he wanted to participate that we simply said, “Good job.” I’m sure God saw right to the heart of Jackson’s simple prayer. The worst thing we could have done was to mock his prayer or even correct it right then. He wanted to pray and he did. That was enough for the day. Down the road we’ll help him find the words to pray, but for now, he prayed on his own, and that was mattered.
Have you ever worried about whether you were using the right words or whether you were praying “correctly”? Have you ever felt too intimidated to pray in the presence of others who seem to know exactly what to say? God just wants us to come to Him, speak from our hearts and learn at His feet. Jesus had a lot to say about having a good attitude in prayer and even gave us a sample prayer to pray to help us learn what to pray about. (Matthew 5:5-14) But, I guarantee, He does not want you to wait until you have it all together to start praying.
Paul told the early Christians to “pray continually.” (I Thessalonians 5:17) In Ephesians he told the early church to, “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” I’ve been in discussion groups on prayer that debated what it was alright to pray about. I say, pray about everything. If it’s a selfish prayer, God will open your eyes. If it’s a foolish request, He will say no. He’s a big God and He can handle your joy and pain, your praise and your anger. Just go to Him and learn from Him and His word. Read the prayers recorded in the Bible and learn from them. Pray scripture. It’s a powerful thing to call on the promises of God.
One final thought, there’s an awesome promise in the letter of Paul to the Romans. He told them, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26) Now that should fill us with confidence. Even when we don’t know what to pray, God has given the Christ-follower the gift of the Holy Spirit to intercede for us. That’s powerful!
So, pray on fellow Christ-follower. Pray continually, knowing that you have back-up. Pray confidently, knowing that you are loved. Pray about everything, knowing that we serve a patient God who wants to teach us at His feet. Pray fervently, knowing that God wants to have a relationship with you. Pray!