Kids are smart. They notice stuff. And they don’t mind asking questions. Like, just the other day we were having a devotional time together following dinner. And as we often do, went around the table sharing things we’re thankful for and things we can be praying about. So, I lead our family in a brief time of prayer (did I mention our youngest is three?) as we wrap-up mealtime. Not very long after my oldest child observes, “you talk differently when you’re praying. You don’t really sound like that normally…”
And then Defensive-Stephen says, “no I don’t!” (I’m actually very deliberate to keep the churchy sounding prayer talk to a minimum).
But she continues, “yes, you actually do sound different. You don’t even use those words other than when you’re praying.”
And then Objective-Stephen was quietly forced to admit, “she’s right.”
I have a bit of a theory that the less our prayer voice resembles our everyday, ordinary voice, the less likely we are to pray. It’s less natural. It takes far greater effort. Conversely, the more our prayer voice resembles our everyday, ordinary voice, the more likely we are to pray.
What would happen if we sought to actively shed our superstition in prayer. After all, there are no special word combinations that lead us into greater communion with God. It’s the actual practice of prayer itself (talking and especially listening) that leads us into deeper & deeper intimacy with God.
Matthew’s gospel teaches us:
Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. (6:6-8 the Message)
What if we worked at having our prayer voice sound more like our everyday voice? What if in so doing prayer became far more a lifestyle than an activity?
I’m aiming to find out.