“Whenever you pray…” (Matthew 6:5)
Not IF you pray, but WHEN you pray, says Jesus. Note the assumption and expectation of Jesus that His people would pray. That understood, He gives us several basics that can help us pray effectively.
First, we are to privatize and personalize our prayers. He cautions us not to be like hypocrites who love to make their prayers public and long so people would be impressed. All of us have heard people pray and wondered if they would ever finish! Some of those “people” could even be us. We should remember that it is God we seek to impress, not people, and He is impressed by prayer that is personal and private. Alone, before God we pray.
Second, we are to simplify our prayers. God, who sees and knows the heart, is more concerned with the content of our hearts than with the multiplicity and complexity of our words. Babbling before God is a useless waste of time and effort. Simplify.
Third, we are to contextualize our prayers. We need to come to the realization that God already knows what we need before we ask. Nothing catches Him by surprise. We need to keep our prayers in the context of God’s constant awareness and His constant care for us.
Effective praying is characterized by privatization, personalization, simplification, and contextualization.
Help us, Lord, to pray thus effectively. Amen.