“And 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
Knowing that we are friends of God is a revelation that should transform our prayer lives. Instead of striving for the right words to pray for the right length of time in the right manner, we should know that we have access to what the Father is saying, and we get to know His secrets. Because this is how Jesus defined our standing with God, it reveals that there should be a great degree of vulnerability in our prayers. Friends tell each other secrets; they have real conversation about what they are feeling and experiencing. God has promised to share Himself with us, and because He is trustworthy, we should accept His invitation.
To me, honoring our relationship with God begs that there be vulnerability on our end. It can be easy to think that because the Father already knows everything about us (even as the scripture states), we don’t actually have to share anything with any vulnerability with Him. What this assumption ignores is God’s desire to connect with us in a real way. When we approach Him honestly, without a checklist, without a formula, we open ourselves up to experiencing real, personal relationship with Him. Friendship with people would be so boring if we said the same things all the time because we thought it was what we were supposed to do. How much more important is this for relationship with God, who we can’t actually get face to face time with yet?
Vulnerable prayer means telling Him how we’re feeling, even if that’s angry or sad or hurt. Even if those feelings are directed toward Him. Once we release all those things to Him, our minds and our emotions are out of the way, and there’s room for real connection. Holding those things back is actually pointless, because God knows where we are. When we are honest about that, it invites Him in to do what He does best, meeting us where we are.
As the scripture says, the Gentiles thought they would be heard because of the many words they prayed. We know that we will be heard because of our faith. For our prayer lives, faith looks like trusting God with what’s going on with us, even if that means tearing down some walls and letting some emotion pour out. This is how we build real relationship with Him.
The pressure is never on us to pray the right words or come to Him with a certain level of sophistication or eloquence. He wants to hear from us, and He wants to be invited in.
Author | Kalli Drake