“Let us pray.”
You see a few hands brushing over faces and hear a few quiet “sighs…” around the room. Heads are bowed and eyes closed.
People are trying to look pious, but they are simply trying not to fall asleep.
All Christians know that prayer is important. Unfortunately, during a typical gathering of believers, it is usually left to the end of the meeting when it is often rushed, or overlooked altogether.
Secretly, most people see prayer as booooring.
There. I said it.
In my 12+ years of seeing other Christians pray, I have rarely seen anyone pray with joy. It is often just an exercise in battling through the boredom barrier. If a group manages to break through, it often then becomes a theological sparring match between those who have copious amounts of knowledge, while the uncertain, immature believers sit by silently because they are so afraid of praying the wrong way.
I believe we need to learn how to pray differently when we gather.
When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13, his prayer wasn’t a long drawn out prayer. It was very short. If you read it out loud and time yourself doing it, you’d struggle to get past 20 seconds.
Recently, our family has taken this knowledge to heart.
Now, each person prays short prayers. One sentence to be exact.
Our prayers are more like a discussion between everyone who gathers.
Confused? This is an example of how our evening prayer sessions have gone.
Dad: “Thank you Lord for Jason.”
5-year-old: “Thank you that he is so funny.”
Mum: “I pray that he will desire to know more about Jesus.”
3-year-old: “I pray that he will be good.”
… and so on until everyone has had a say.
That’s it. Everyone gets involved. They only pray one sentence each and no-one is trying to out-do others with their prayers. It’s not theologically perfect or done eloquently, but it doesn’t have to be.
We do this at home and our children love it.
Communal prayer for us is now a joy. We do it any time we think about someone. We don’t have to wait until it is ‘time to pray’ and it is not only done by those with vast amounts of knowledge. We are even teaching our 1-year-old daughter to pray.
Dad: “Say thank…”
Dad: “Say you…”
“Lord…” “Yawd.” “For…” “Fah.” “Jason…” “Jay sun.”
It’s that simple. Make it so easy that even a little child can do it. Jesus said in Matthew 18:3,
“Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Let’s extend that to how we pray and become like little children. Try it out for yourself next time you gather and let me know how you go.