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Three Word Prayers
Recently some friends and I were discussing the practice of prayer. All of us readily admitted that we complicate the prayer experience with crazy notions; like how, when, and where we should pray. There is no magic formula, or prescribed incantation that makes prayer effective. Talking a lot doesn’t mean you are communicating well. God says just the opposite. “When you pray do not use meaningless repetitions, as heathens do: they think they will be heard for their much speaking.” (Matthew 6:7) Prayer is communication between a person and God. The same communication skills that are effective in human interactions are effective in prayer.
Mutual appreciation and acceptance is necessary for effective communication. One does not have to read much scripture to learn that God loves you! God may not like what you do. He may be sad that you don’t love him back. But, God loves you.He created you, and He has a marvelous plan for your life. So, you can pray with the reassurance that you are talking to someone who accepts and appreciates you. God also likes to hear that you accept and appreciate Him. So, when you pray, thank God for who He is, for the sunshine, for your health, for your children. “You’re amazing, God!”
Good communication is genuine and honest. Who wants to talk to someone who uses fancy language, or who repeats some canned speech? Speak openly and honestly from the heart. Good communication happens when each person feels heard and understood, even if their thinking is inaccurate. Since God already knows the heart, He understands and accepts us. God’s acceptance allows us to speak honestly, enabling us to recognize the truth and error in our thinking. “Help me understand.”
Good communicators are open about their concerns. “My marriage is a mess.” “I am worried about my child.” “What is that spot on my neck?” Anything that concerns you is okay to talk about to God. Share your concerns and ask for his help. “If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives wisdom liberally, and never scolds us for asking.” (James 1:5) “Help me, God!”
Admit when you are wrong. Seek help in how to be more respectful. Just as you might encourage a friend to tell you when you are being offensive or inconsiderate, ask God to reveal ways you offend Him. Then, apologize and change the offensive behavior. “Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24) “Forgive me, Lord.”
Recently a friend started a practice of three word prayers. She finds herself praying all day long. Nothing fancy or formal, just honest and genuine communication with God.
“Beautiful sunset, God!”
“Thank you, Jesus.”
“I’m sorry, God.”
“What just happened?”
“Shut my mouth.”
“Show me how.”
“Give me patience” (grace, love, humility)
“Protect them, Lord.”
“Use my talents.”
“Make me kind.”
“You are SO good!”
Okay, so that last one is four words. God’s okay with that.
Contributed by Carolyn Primm