Jesus says, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”Matthew 6:5
A phrase posted on the marquee of a church in Cincinnati suggested that eloquence is inferior to earnestness on the subject of prayer. What do you think?
A good friend told me about feeling a bit awkward and inadequate while praying with another friend earlier in the day. I think most of us have felt that way at times, but should we?
It seems to me that this is one of the great lies that limit the effectiveness of our lives as followers of Christ. Many of us believe prayer should be worded in an eloquent way in order to be effective and since few of us feel confident, we choose not to pray. We remain silent – even in private.
One of my favorite parables of Christ underscores the need for earnest prayers:
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”Luke 18: 10-14
God isn’t impressed with our way with words, but He does encourage heartfelt prayer. Earnestness is superior to eloquence.