Today's Lectionary Text
“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
I kept on reading Matthew 6 and discovered the secret of praying specific prayers. What exactly do I need to pray for and how do I present my prayer requests before God? What did Jesus mean when he said, "And in praying do not heap empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they are heard for their many words." The verse denotes to a person already in the secret place communicating with God. The question is how we present ourselves and petitions before God. Jesus teaches us to specify our prayers and lessen multiply words. This calls for an orderly presentation before God. God wants us to bring our specific prayers with intention and purpose. Jesus teaches us that God values those specific prayers and disregards all empty phrases or multiply words, meaning (repeating the same ones over and over) as the Gentiles do, for they think they are heard for their much speaking." (Matthew 6:7). This takes back to my family prayers some decades ago.
My daddy was prayerful and loved to sing during the evening devotions when he was home. His prayers were powerful but very short and to the point. We used to laugh at his prayers and the way he sung during family devotions. We talked about his specific prayers as children but learned that he was right on track. One day he asked me to pray as we were praying for the new year and school year. I prayed a long prayer repeating words over and over again. Daddy was a man of wisdom. He later sat me down and taught me the way Jesus taught his audience in Matthew saying, "Ever Vennah, people will sleep if you keep this method of praying. Remember, your heavenly Father knows everything before you even open your mouth in prayer. Just be specific when you prayer.
Truly speaking some prayer warriors would be disappointed by this teaching because they would be thinking of persistence in prayer like the widow in (Luke 18:1-8).
Indeed, we have to be persistent in prayer with purposeful and focus when praying. The widow was very specific when she went constantly to the judge without weaving and in a few words saying, "Vindicate me against my adversary." (Luke 18:3).
Saints, this widow was specific in her persistence. She never heaped many words but had one prayer point or focus, sought justice from her adversary.
Therefore, Jesus is teaching us to:
1. Write our specific prayer requests or desires within our hearts and present them orderly and accordingly before God.
2. To pray knowing that God already knows our heart desires and purpose of our prayers. "Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear." (Isaiah 65:24)
3. To journal our prayers as we connect to God.
It is a great moment to pray during that sweet hour of prayer. God listens to us as we also listen to him.
-Rev. Ever Mudambanuki
United Church of Bennington and Soloman Yoked Parish
Prayer for Reflection
Teach me to be specific in my prayers O God. Listen to my prayers and answer me according to your will. Amen.
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