Many people have a lot of misconceptions about prayer. Some people think that prayer has to be long, or that it has to include certain “spiritual” phrases, or that you have to address God by one of His Hebrew titles, or that you have to pray in King James English (using words like Thou knowest…).
I’m not knocking any of these things, but neither am I saying any or all of them have to be included.
- Some prayers recorded in the Bible are very short, and some prayer times last for days or even weeks.
- Some prayers include very formal language, and some are just the street language of the day.
- Some prayers address God with a specific title, and some don’t.
Here’s the key thing: they are all very personal. Each prayer reflecting the unique personality and the unique circumstance of the one doing the praying.
Nehemiah was a confidant of King Artaxerxes of Persia. One day the king noticed something he hadn’t seen before: Nehemiah was frowning. The king asked, “What’s up, Nehemiah?” Look what Nehemiah wrote:
Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king.
Nehemiah’s prayer was silent and extremely quick. It was a flash prayer.
But here’s what makes this prayer so powerful and effective. Nehemiah started praying for an opportunity to talk to the king about an important issue four months earlier. Nehemiah even took time to fast during his prayer time. His initial prayer to God is very formal sounding, and somewhat long. This prayer was rolling around in his heart and mind for quite awhile.
Then when the opportunity came to talk to the king, Nehemiah could quickly breathe a prayer to God, “Help me!”
I think is exactly what Paul had in mind when he told us to pray without ceasing.
Pray out loud … pray quietly … pray long … pray short … pray formally … pray casually … pray personalized prayers all the time.
I’m working on this.