Believing In Prayer

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Do we really believe that God hears us when we pray? If so, then why do we say the same thing over and over again? “God is great. God is good. Let us thank God for our food. Amen.” Fourteen words. Sixty-six characters shy of the 140-character limit for a tweet. I timed myself and I can complete this prayer in less than five seconds.

Given this non-scientific study of one controlled subject, would you consider this proof of a prayer life? Does this count as an actual conversation? Would this be evidence of our belief in prayer? Is this all it takes to claim to be in a personal relationship with God?

Words of blessing over our meals and before we go to bed at night, there are times when we forget to say even these daily prayers. So, what do we mean when we say that we believe in prayer? What does it mean that we feel inclined to pray over our meals and before we go to bed?

While I don’t want to discourage memorizing prayers or teaching them to our children, could you imagine listening to someone who says the same thing every time they talk to you? And if she is hungry, it is rushed. If he is tired, it is abbreviated, giving God only the highlights and a quick thank you.

God: “Hello.”
Me: “God is great. God is good. Let us thank God for our food. Amen.”

God: “Hello. I love you.”
Me: “Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

God: “How was your day?
Me: “God is great. God is good. Let us thank God for our food. Amen.”

God: “Hey. I want to share something with you.”
Me: “Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

I pray that our prayer life does not consist of only eating and sleeping prayers. I hope that we would talk to God about more than food, rest, and death. And if this is the case, I invite you to include God in conversations about your family, career, and personal life.

Because if we believe in prayer, if we believe that God is listening and that God responds, then why don’t we say more? If we believe that prayer is a conversation with God, then why are we repeating ourselves? What do we not want to say? What do we believe that God doesn’t want to hear?

I assure you that God would not be angry if you decided not to begin your conversation with “God is great. God is good.…”

smcneillReverend Starlette Thomas* is an associate pastor at Village Baptist Church in Bowie, Maryland and the Minister to Empower Congregations at the D.C. Baptist Convention. She writes on the social construct of race and the practice of faith at www.racelessgospel.com. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and Starbucks.

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Comments

  1. Virginia Isbell says:

    I surely agree with you that our prayers should be real conversations with God! Using the acronym ACTS has helped me greatly to include all the ways Jesus modeled for us in the Lord’s Prayer. A -adoration,
    C – confession, T – thanksgiving, & S – supplications