Not long ago, I sat in a church with 40 other people and listened to the prayer of a man I did not know. He was an older gentleman who’s accent made him difficult to understand. This meant that I had to really concentrate on his words in order to make out what was being said. I have been in hundreds of churches and listened to thousands of prayers from those I do not know, but never like this. Let me explain, his words hit a place that many Christians never find themselves, confidence and comfort. This man spoke to God as though he were standing in front of him. He called him father in such reverence that you could sense the love this man felt. Somehow it still went deeper. For ten minutes this man prayed his heart openly for all to hear, “Father, as young boy I rode a horse to your house on Sundays, now I am driven by others, but I am still here, because you called me.” Over and over this man played out his life and what God had done through and for him.
Just like Jonah, this man told of times he called out in distress and God answered. You see Jonah remembered that moment he was casted over board and in a prayer tells everyone who will listen what he went through, “In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to GOD. He answered me. From the belly of the grave I cried, ‘Help!’ You heard my cry. You threw me into ocean’s depths, into a watery grave, With ocean waves, ocean breakers crashing over me. I said, ‘I’ve been thrown away, thrown out, out of your sight. I’ll never again lay eyes on your Holy Temple.’ Ocean gripped me by the throat. The ancient Abyss grabbed me and held tight. My head was all tangled in seaweed at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root. I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever— Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive, O GOD, my God!” (Jonah 2:1-9)
Neither Jonah nor the man mentioned above used words they had heard before. There was no mimicry in their prayer just the love that spilled over from knowing God would hear their words. We have a tendency to repeat the same words when asked to pray in a public setting. Surely this is not the heart that God has given believers? It is time to lay our hearts down, our hurts and joys alike. It is time to share and cry out to God’ in a way that others can hear and pray as well. It is time to let go of the robotic prayer life that so many have fallen into. It’s time to pray with righteousness, reverence, and power. Just as Paul says in Ephesians 6:18, “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
The title of this post is deceiving, as there really is no art to prayer. Prayer should come from your heart. It should be our offering and our worship not just individually, but corporately. Do not be afraid to pray aloud for those who are in need. When there is a n accident on the road pray. When a couple is joined in marriage, pray. When you are on top of a spiritual mountain and when you are in a spiritual valley , pray. Do not just pray to yourself, but pray so others can join in your prayer. This is not for boastful purposes, but so that Christian hearts and voice can join together in prayer when it is needed. You see when that older man was finished praying we all knew where he stood….at the feet of the Father. When your prayer is over, do those around you know where you stand?