For a long time, and still today, I struggled with prayer. I can’t really explain why, but perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I’m just not good at talking. I’m a shy person, and speaking out loud to other people is often very hard for me. Prayer is a conversation, whether you’re talking, thinking, or writing, and conversation, except in writing, is hard for me.
Some people can pray for hours. Out loud. Which is amazing. This always made me feel guilty and like a “bad Christian” because I don’t do that. I will never volunteer to pray aloud, and if I’m selected to do so, my prayer is done almost as soon as it started (not quite, but you get the point…).
I always felt pretty badly about my prayer life. I felt like I just wasn’t doing it right. Then, in a Bible study, we were looking at verses about prayer, and we hit Matthew chapter 6 when Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray.
Before he starts on The Lord’s Prayer, he says this:
7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Here I found comfort and hope for my prayer life.
I often found myself filling prayer time with words because I thought that’s what mattered. “I need this prayer to last long so it counts.” Now, I knew that what I was praying for was important, but I also thought if my prayer was too short, it wouldn’t be as appreciated as a long prayer.
I was babbling. I was filling my prayers with empty words so that I could take up more time.
With the help of this verse, I realized that this was wrong. Many words doesn’t make prayer powerful. The length of time doesn’t make prayer powerful. The words I pray don’t make prayer powerful. God makes prayer powerful.
The coolest part of all this is that even before I consider praying, God knows exactly what I need. I shouldn’t worry about my prayers being too short because God knows. He always knows.
I’ll keep praying away, in the way Jesus taught us.
Image taken from Our Catholic Prayers. “Mental Prayer.”