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3 Things to Let Go Of in Prayer

When it comes to praying effectively, histrionics aren’t necessary. Simple, believing prayer is all it takes. God will hear you just fine.

When it comes to prayer, best to keep it simple.
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We make prayer too complicated. We assume that prayer requires knowledge and expertise, eloquence and education. But Jesus told his first followers to keep it simple: “When you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that 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, ESV)

In other words, you can:

1)  Let go of the need to “get it right.”
If “your Father knows what you need before you ask him,” you don’t need to get things “just so” before you pray. You don’t need to clean up your act, straighten your tie or even think things through. Your Father already knows you and everything about you, including exactly where you are and what you need. So relax. 

2)  Let go of the need to inform or impress God.
If “your Father knows what you need before you ask him,” he certainly knows who you really are. You are not going to impress him with your eloquence, education or righteousness. 

In Jesus’ memorable story of the tax collector and the Pharisee (Luke 18:9-11), he contrasted the Pharisee who prayed, basically, “God, I thank you that I’m so great!” with the tax collector who simply admitted his need and asked God for mercy. According to Jesus, the tax collector’s humble, unimpressive prayer pleased God.

Your Father knows what you need before you ask, so you don’t have to fill in any blanks for him or use fancy words or a special tone. He knows you. He knows your faults. He knows your need. So pray simply.

3)  Let go of the need to beg.
You may remember the showdown on Mount Carmel between the prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal (see 1 Kings 18). Elijah suggested that they pray to their gods, and he would pray to Yahweh, and whoever answered by sending fire to consume an animal sacrifice would be acknowledged as the true God.

The pagan prophets used every religious trick and strategy they knew to generate a response, but nothing happened—not so much as a flicker of response. When they exhausted themselves with begging and bargaining, Elijah prayed a simple prayer. And God answered. 

READ MORE: ANSWERED PRAYERS

That scene may have been part of what Jesus had in mind when he said, “When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” It is like the prayers of some people today, who employ various techniques or tactics intended to get God’s attention, break down his resistance or even twist his arm into answering prayer. 

But Jesus said your Father knows what you need before you even ask. Histrionics aren’t necessary. Simple, believing prayer is all it takes. So, like Elijah, you can ask boldly but simply, and trust God to hear and answer.

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