My mind has been on prayer lately, and I’m trying to look at it as an out-of-body experience. In other words, I’m looking at my own prayer life and the prayer life of others from a 3rd person perspective…and questioning…WHY do we pray like we do?
Here are a few examples to clarify what I’m talking about:
- We mostly pray with our eyes closed
- We often bow our heads
- We sometimes hold our hands in a certain position
- We sometimes hold each other’s hands
- When a group prays for an individual, we often wrap our arms around one another and the prayer recipient
- We repeat “Lord, Father, God, Jesus, Abba, etc” over and over AND OVER again
NONE of these practices or prayer rituals are inherently bad. I don’t believe God judges us for our prayer technique as much as our motivation for prayer and the sincerity of our hearts.
Now, let me say most importantly here that NONE of these practices or prayer rituals are inherently bad. I don’t believe God judges us for our prayer technique as much as our motivation for prayer and the sincerity of our hearts.
God’s word gives us some suggestions, such as not going on and on with our words…when done so to impress others with our prayer mastery or how amazingly Christian we are. Matthew 6:6 says to go into our rooms, close the door and pray in private. Jesus gives some specific instructions in Matthew 6:9 when he starts off “This, then, is how you should pray:…” But this instruction is more in the form of the content or focus of your prayer life…not so much the technique or ritual/habits.
One suggestion I have is to talk to God like you would talk to another person
One suggestion I have is to talk to God like you would talk to another person…with obviously a lot more reverence and respect than we often give to our fellow humans. When talking with a friend named John, do you use his name over and over again, such as: “John, I pray to thee. John, please bless us for…., John…, John…, John…”? Then, why do we find ourselves saying God, Father, Lord, Jesus 20+ times in 2 minutes? God knows you are praying to Him!
My next suggestion is to do whatever you want to do with your eyes, hands, head, etc. There is no perfect positioning for prayer. In a perfect world, when we pray we should be able to shut out all distractions. If closing your eyes helps…great! Just don’t feel like this matters to God. Just don’t think that closing your eyes, bowing your head, or getting on your knees inherently increases the value or validity of the prayer. God hears you regardless.
My last suggestion here is to focus completely on God and who your prayer is directed at, such as the person in need of help, grace, blessings, etc. It’s not about closing our eyes, bowing our heads, or any other culturally learned prayer practices. If you do those things, it’s totally fine. Just remember that it is totally NOT about that. Prayer is about you…connecting with God…on behalf of yourself and others…and building a rich relationship with the Creator…your Lord and Savior.
the next time you pray…try shedding some of these traditional prayer practices and see how it impacts your prayer life.
So, the next time you pray (how about right now?)…try shedding some of these traditional prayer practices and see how it impacts your prayer life. And please do share your culture’s prayer practices and any comments below. It would be fascinating to hear from people in other parts of the world.