When you pray, don’t babble like the Gentiles, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:7-8
Prayers can be like a box of animal crackers. I suppose you remember way back when we could go to the store and buy a box of animal crackers. They might still make them today but even if they do…they probably aren’t the same. Back then, the colors on the outside of the box were so rich and vivid and of course there was a small piece of fabric that served as a handle. You opened the box and I remember two things specifically. First, the little cookies actually looked like animals and second, they were genuinely good. Of course, the box was full and consisted of more than a few different animals.
Well, if you think about it, that box of animal crackers is like some of the prayers I have heard in church. When I was a kid I never figured out how you got to be selected to pray in church. I figured surely there was some sort of selection committee, but if there was they sure had a variety of tastes. The prayers were as varied as the animals in the box of crackers. Sometimes they were long…too long. Those were the people that forgot the part in the Bible where Jesus said He didn’t care how many words were said in a prayer. I remember a man that if he got the call to pray, you might as well kiss lunch goodbye.
I can remember another guy who I am sure sounded just like God. His voice was deep and his cadence would be slow. So, I grew up believing that God when He talked, had this really deep voice with each word carefully spaced and pronounced in each sentence. I’m not sure how effective he was as far as God hearing his prayer but it was impressive…at least to me. Oh, and of course, some people I am certain made the cut because of the number of big words they knew. I can remember listening to their prayers and wondering what in the world they were saying. I guess in the long run it didn’t matter because they weren’t talking to me anyway.
Yup, when I was growing up prayers were just like animal crackers and I guess in some ways they still are today. Usually, though, they are a little more generic. There are certain words like “Heavenly Father” and “lead, guide and direct,” oh and “for our good and Your glory” that find their way into a lot of prayers. I know I’ve got my words too. Today at church one of our students prayed and well, I liked it a lot. It was simple, it was to the point and I believe it was from his heart. Now that is a good prayer.
When I was a kid we had this prayer that we prayed at dinner. It, too, was simple and to the point. You’ve probably prayed it before yourself. It went something like this, “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food.” Now some variations went on to say, “By His hands, we are fed. Give us Lord our daily bread.” Whether it was the longer or the shorter…it was a good prayer. God is indeed great. We should not only acknowledge that, but we should believe and live that. Oh, and indeed God is good. I always like it when I am reminded that not only does God do good…He is good…and every good thing comes down from Him.
And we mustn’t forget the last of the triplet—let us thank Him for our food. Did you know that He not only gives us food to eat, He gives us everything else too? The Bible tells us in Psalm 24:1 that everything belongs to the Lord…the stars, the earth and everything else on the earth. And it also reminds us that since He owns it all we should be grateful that He has decided to share with us. So it only makes sense that we should remember to thank Him for our food and everything else. I mean even the air that we breathe was made by Him and we should thank Him for that too.
So, the next time you are in church, you might remember this short story about animal crackers and prayer. I hope you will remember that each prayer is different and that is more than ok. I hope you will remember that it isn’t how long or short, how big the words are or what the person’s voice sounds like that matters. What matters is that our heart is focused on Him and whether we are praying or listening to be sure and give our all to Him for those sacred moments. After all, He is great God and He is good and always…He’s got this! Bro. Dewayne