In honor of the National Day of Prayer, which happens this Thursday, I’m devoting today’s post to prayer. In my many years as a Christian I’ve noticed that, just as we worship according to widely different traditions, we pray in different ways, too. Here are a few styles you’ll probably recognize from your own experiences.
Heads are bowed, the room is quiet, our thoughts are focused on God… and someone leads off with a 150 decibel “O GOD!” Or perhaps it’s a pastor in front of the congregation, praying in his or her “preaching” voice. Do they think God is hard of hearing? Or are they concerned with keeping everyone else awake?
The Broken Record
Just in case God didn’t hear them the first time, these pray-ers repeat everything at least once. Some mix it up a bit: “God, please provide the money this team needs for their mission trip. O God, provide their funds. God, these folks need your provision. Provide the money they need. Money, God. Provide for this trip.” Others just repeat the same line over and over. It might sound something like this: “God, we worship You. God, we worship You. God, we worship You. God, we worship You. God, we worship You. God, we worship You. God, we worship You. God, we worship You.”
The Name Dropper
These are the folks who invoke God’s name and/or title with every breath. You know what I mean. “Lord, I pray for Rupert, Lord, that You’d tell him, Lord, which job to apply for, Lord. Lord, please just show him, Lord, what you want him to do, Lord….”
I admit, these prayers drive me batty, totally distracting me from what is actually being praying for. (Instead, I end up counting how many times the person say “Lord.”)
Try it sometime with a normal conversation. I can see my husband’s reaction if I addressed him like that. “Pete, I was wondering, Pete, if you’re coming home, Pete, for dinner. Pete, please be on time, Pete.” My guess is that the person is using God’s name as a place filler, instead of “er” or “um” or perhaps “totally.” Er, silence is totally all right with, um, me.
Have you ever encountered someone who, during a prayer meeting, uses the Bible to remind God exactly why He should answer their prayer? Now I’m not saying that it’s a bad idea to pray scripture—far from it. Praying God’s promises is a great way to know you’re praying according to His will. But, at least in a group setting, please don’t try to cover all 66 books during your turn to pray! I’m not sure if these pray-ers are trying to justify their prayers, or if they’re really out to impress the rest of us.
I’ve just scratched the surface here; you can probably add to my list (please do!). Plus, some people combine more than one style. In fact, just last Sunday I heard someone repeatedly address “the Father” at the top of his voice, reiterating each sentence two or three times while quoting lengthy tracts of scripture to validate their prayer for those who have yet to hear the Gospel. I was quite impressed—four prayer styles rolled into one!
Thankfully, even though we might irritate one another with the way we pray, God isn’t nearly as picky. I don’t think any of these prayers bother Him one bit. He just wants to sit down and spend some time with us, share His heart, and hear what’s on ours. The important thing is that we pray.
Then there’s the prayer poems that are repeated, or prayer “books” where you read prayers other people wrote.
And, Lord, please help Rupert get a job to pay for his kitten chow!