When you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do. MATTHEW 6:7
Tommy was a National Guard Reservist called into action during the Gulf War. On the last Sunday before his actual deployment, the church he attended had a special time of prayer, sending him off with their promise of support and encouragement.
As you can imagine, the prayers for Tommy's safety were thick with theology and high-sounding words (as churchy prayers often are): "Sovereign God of the universe, we trust that You will protect this young man on his mission, O Lord, and that You will keep him within the shelter of Your wings." All very sincere, I'm sure, but quite flowery and unoriginal.
Then a little eight-year-old voice piped up from the back, "Dear Jesus, don't let Tommy get killed, okay? That's all. Okay. Amen." The sanctuary fell silent, as everyone suddenly knew that the prayers they had encrusted in adult euphemisms had really been grown-up attempts to say this one thing: "Don't let Tommy get killed, okay?" It took a child to express what adults couldn't.
When Robbie Castleman, author of Parenting in the Pew, told me that story, it reminded me of something I'd heard my friend Andre Kole, one of the top illusionists in the world, say: "The hardest people in all the world to fool with your tricks are children." That's because children aren't as complex as adults in trying to figure something out. They just see it for what it is. They're not filtering the solution through so many possibilities.
The next time you pray with your spouse or with a child, get real. Get real simple. Be real honest. Get real with God. With total reverence for God, tell Him what you'd really like to tell Him. I believe God breaks out in a big grin when we get real with Him.
How are your prayers duplicates of what you've heard others pray? Do you feel comfortable enough with God to be honest with Him? What is one thing you'd like to get real with God about in prayer?
Whatever you pray for today, keep it simple. Just talk straight with Him.