Day Eight: Prayer
Written by Bobby Moran
When I look back on my childhood, I see that I probably learned prayer in a very different way than most people. I grew up in an environment that both of my parents prayed dangerously in front of us. What I mean when I say they ‘prayed dangerously’ is that they prayed very specific, bold prayers to God. Often times, I remember my dad confessing specific healing over our lives. On other occasions he would say, “In the name of Jesus, we cast you (satan) out of our lives and our home.” As a little guy, I can remember his words being so inspiring and thinking my dad was so bold for telling the devil where he could go or asking for blessing in more of a statement form, rather than a question. Throughout my childhood, their boldness in prayer definitely rubbed off on me. I always used to wonder about other Christians who prayed very safe, reverent prayers. At some point I found myself asking, “Should I be approaching this differently?” or “Should I be less up-front about telling God my thoughts and needs?” In my searching I’ve found that there is no one ‘right’ way to pray because everyone communicates differently. Over the years, I’ve developed my own way to communicate with God that sometimes includes very reverent “G-Rated” prayers while others look and sound more like a UFC cage fight.
As a youth pastor, it has been interesting to be around students in prayer and also be provided the opportunity to shape their thoughts around prayer. For most of my students, their prayers last around 25 seconds and sound something like this:
“God, thank you for this day. Thank you for my dog. Thank you for this food. AMEN.”
Yet, I can’t help but think that their prayers (when serious) touch God’s heart in a way that my artsy reverent prayers do not. With students, often times, their prayers are short and to the point. Whereas, sometimes when I’m trying to communicate with God, I feel I need to use a mix of scripture and extravagant language, reminding God of the things He promised in the book He wrote. Kind of ironic, don’t you think?
Matthew 19:14 says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” God holds the opinions, thoughts, and feelings of our children so close to his heart that I can only imagine how he must feel when one prays out of thankfulness or expresses hurt through simple, honest language.
When I started writing this devotion, the thoughts I wanted to convey were the ways that I try to help teach my students about prayer and conversation with God. But, as you can see, there are times that I spend in reflection that I come away learning more from them than they do from me. I suppose the truth behind all of this is that it doesn’t matter what style your prayer is or how it sounds or the words that you speak. What does matter is that it comes from a heart that is honest and open with God. God is big enough to receive all your honest, hurtful, and thankful prayers. The challenge for us is to strive to be more like my students and think less about how our prayer sounds and more about the thoughts and feelings that we need to express. We pray to a God who accepts every kind of prayer; no matter how elegant, bold, or innocent.
Write this way: Write a prayer to God with your most honest feelings. He loves hearing your heart without worrying about praying the ‘right’ way.