Windows into the Light by Michael Sullivan

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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Tuesday, March 3

And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
—Matthew 6: 7-8

How do you pray?  Most of us, if we’re honest, do nothing more than sit down and present a list to God, a kind of child’s Christmas wish list. Without meaning to, our prayers become models of consumption—the things we want and need—which we put at the feet of God as if we’re visiting a heavenly department store rather than praying to our Creator.

But when Jesus instructs us on how to pray, it’s amazingly simple. Do not heap up empty phrases. Jesus understands that our prayers need to be full of integrity, authenticity, and sincerity. Jesus is inviting us to a prayer life that looks more like a relationship than a petition. He invites us to that holy ground where our being comes in contact with God’s very being as we present the fullness of ourselves to the One who made us.

The prayer that follows these words of Christ is nothing other than our Lord’s Prayer. It focuses on daily living, looking not to tomorrow, but concentrating on the single moment in time we have been given as a gift from God. The more we focus on each moment, the more we are mindful of our present situation, the less we petition God for things, and the more we become the people that our world needs.

Jesus’ prayer pushes the average believer toward a life of purpose and meaning. He’s not looking for grand theological words, heaped one upon the other, but for true life. Sure, there’s always a place for the grand and eloquent. But most of the time, it’s the place of mindfulness that God desires most.

Oh God, help me prune back my words to reveal the habits of my heart, and let the mindfulness that comes be one of authenticity and integrity.