We are halfway through the season of Lent, a time of Spiritual Retreat, of turning toward God and learning from Jesus so that we may be for the prepared for journey through Holy Week.
This week our church is looking at the text of Matthew 6:5-14, Jesus’s teaching on prayer. This is the beloved text leading up to the Lord’s Prayer, and Jesus is careful to instruct his disciples to pray prayers similar to his in secret, without calling attention to themselves, and leaving behind flowery language—I love the way The Message Bible interpretation explains Jesus’s words,
“And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?
Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply.”
God doesn’t want us to try to impress others through our prayer, we don’t need to use big words or worry about perfectly spoken phrases. God does wants our attention, God wants our time. When we pray God desires our gratitude, our ability to acknowledge who God is, to humbly ask for the things we need, and to seek reconciliation with the only one in the universe worthy of extending forgiveness to us. And, we can pray with faith, because our Heavenly Father already knows what we need and is ready and able to provide for us.