Growing up, I loved spy-related books, movies, TV shows, video games, etc. I loved everything about the fantastical world of intrigue, stealth, and action. From James Bond to Jason Bourne, I loved it all.
One of the main aspects of any good spy story is the concept of secret codes or passwords. The hero would often find him/herself in a scenario where they had to discover some hidden information, perhaps a code to unlock a safe or a password to access a computer terminal. It was incredibly important for the hero to gain the right information, in the right sequence, in order for the mission to be achieved and lives to be saved.
Fortunately for us, unlocking the power of prayer isn’t at all like a spy cracking a code. There is no right way to talk to your Heavenly Father. There is no advantage to praying in King James English. I remember growing up thinking that in order for my prayers to be heard by God, I had to pray like some of the more eloquent (and possibly long-winded! lol) people in my hometown church. I had the impression that wordiness equated to spirituality. Boy, was I wrong. Jesus even said so himself. Right before giving His disciples the prayer that we know as The Lord’s Prayer, he said this in Matthew 6:7-8 9 (NLT):
“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!”
Jesus was instructing us to pray, not in a manner that resembled some sort of secret code that had to include the right elements in the right order, but in a manner that resembles how a son or daughter might have a plain yet intimate conversation with their loving earthly father. One benefit that plain prayers have over verbose prayers is that while I’m praying I can focus on the realities of both my situation and God’s love and guidance for me. If I’m having to try to decode a secret combination of religious jargon, I can easily spend so much energy and focus on figuring out what to say that I miss what He may be wanting to say back to me.
As we wrap up this 21 Days of Prayer season, my prayer for you is that you will continue to seek God each day. Don’t get caught up in how eloquent your prayers need to be, but rather, talk to your Heavenly Father plainly and as you are. I promise that your prayer times will be more enjoyable and productive as a result.
—Pastor Shawn Baird