ODJ: the words we pray

May 25, 2014 

READ: Matthew 6:5-13 

Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up in honour (James 4:10,16-17).

As I was growing up, my parents made sure we prayed before evening meals. Sitting around the kitchen table, my siblings and I would bow our heads as either Dad or Mum would pray.

I remember liking it when Dad prayed. His prayers were generally short and to the point. But it was a different story when Mum prayed. She not only took the opportunity to thank our heavenly Father for providing for our needs, she also prayed methodically for every single one of my siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and so on. And she wasn’t about to forget to pray for all of the missionary families that our local church supported.

As a young boy, I wasn’t mature enough to appreciate my mother’s deep burden for prayer. I’ve come to see, however, that longer prayers aren’t necessarily better ones (Matthew 6:5).

In just a few short words that would nearly fit into a single ‘tweet’, Jesus once showed how to pray meaningfully for God’s kingdom to reign on earth as in heaven, for our daily needs and forgiveness and deliverance from the evil one’s influence (vv.10-13).

Of course, certain occasions may be perfect for longer prayers. On the eve of His crucifixion, the gospel accounts record that Jesus was praying long and hard in the Garden of Gethsemane: “He prayed more fervently and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell . . . like great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44). But it’s interesting to note that the words captured from that holy moment are few. He said, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39).

When it comes to prayer—don’t confuse quantity with quality. —Jeff Olson

365-day plan› Jeremiah 36:1-32

Read Ecclesiastes 5:2 and consider what it says about God and the words we should pray to Him. 
How does your prayer life need to change? What’s most important about the words we pray?