by Steve Baynes
The most authentic prayer I’ve ever heard was four words long.
I’ve probably heard close to 10,000 different prayers in my lifetime. The way I figure it, since I’ve been in church since I was about two-weeks old that should be about right. Of course every prayer is unique just as every pray-er is unique. Some prayers seem like repetitions of the one we learned in Sunday School when we were six, but others have the power and authenticity to move us to tears. There are the ‘persistent widow’ prayers of a grandmother that go on for years until her wayward grandson comes to know the Lord, and there are the three-word “…arise and walk” prayers that bring instant healing to the broken.
Maybe it’s easy for us to get caught up in a routine with our prayers. Sometimes we (ok….I) catch ourselves going through the motions while talking to God. I’ll finish a prayer and think….”what did I just say?” Or, even better, have you ever been in a corporate prayer setting, and caught yourself thinking about the words you might say in order to speak to the people around you? What about the wish list we bring to the foot of the Savior on occasion? Listing our needs then calling it a day….
Don’t get me wrong. The majority of the prayers we pray are honest, heartfelt and sincere communication with our Father in Heaven. I’ve just come to the realization that our prayer life is as susceptible to drought, pride and mediocrity as any other part of our spiritual life. I found myself stuck in one of these phases when I witnessed the most sincere prayer I’ve ever heard. Before a service we were gathered around praying when one person opened her prayer with these words:
“We love you, Jesus…….we love you, Jesus…..we love you, Jesus……we love you, Jesus….”
It went on like that for quite some time. I just stood there. I was listening and soaking in the feeling of standing face-to-face before the Lord telling Him that we love him. We weren’t asking for anything in return or relying on words to convey any message, but simply praising Him. Our prayers had turned into praise and He inhabited those praises. It was a glory-to-glory moment that I won’t soon forget.
I no longer strive to find the words to pray. There are needs and petitions and prayers of gratitude, but they come after making eye-contact with the Holy Savior. “I love you, Jesus…..I love you Jesus…..” Those four words give me comfort, and prepare me for battle at the same time. I am ready for whatever lies ahead.
Take time this week to make eye-contact. Let everything else fade away and take the time to enter His presence and tell Him how you feel. Take a deep breath and be prepared for an encounter!