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Straight Talk About Your Prayer Life

Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few.
–Ecclesiastes 5:2

What is the greatest discovery in human history? Some might say it was Newton discovering the law of gravity when an apple plopped on his head. Other people might point to certain inventions, such as the printing press, the incandescent light bulb, or the personal computer.

But as miraculous as those discoveries are, they pale in comparison to this one: you and I can talk to the Creator of the universe anytime we want to, and by what we say we can actually move Him to action. Isn’t that a remarkable thought? Max Lucado said it this way: “God has wired his world for power, but he calls on us to flip the switch.” Prayer is the switch that unleashes the power of God. So how do we pray in such a way that God hears us and unleashes His power?

Jesus answered that question for us in Matthew 6. He began His discourse on prayer by telling us how not to do it. First of all, He said, do not brag: “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men” (v. 5). Now, there is nothing wrong with praying in public, but the Pharisees did it not to worship God but to be seen by men. “Truly I say to you,” Jesus continued, “they have their reward in full” (v. 5).

In Luke 18, Jesus told a story about two men who went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee prayed, in essence, “Lord, thank You that I am not like that unjust, immoral tax collector over there. But I am a righteous man: I fast, I pray, I give alms to the poor.” The tax collector, on the other hand, did not try to brag about himself. He beat his chest and said, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” (v. 13). So first of all, do not brag when you pray.

Second, do not babble when you pray. Jesus said in Matthew 6:7, “When you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.” Have you ever found yourself falling into meaningless phrases when you pray? “Bless this, bless that, bless, bless, bless . . .” We also tend to think the longer the prayer, the more effective it is. We would do well to take Solomon’s advice in Ecclesiastes 5:2: “Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few.” You do not have to pray long, repetitive prayers in order for God to hear you. Jesus said in Matthew 6:8 that your heavenly Father knows what you need even before you ask Him.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Straight Talk About Your Prayer Life” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2022.

Max Lucado, “Outlive Your Life” (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), 157.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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