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MATTHEW WEST-THE MOTIONS
Have you ever been asked to pray for somebody out loud, in front of people? Kinda puts a little pressure on, doesn't it? It's easy to want to sound spiritual, reverent, and articulate. Not just for God, but for the people that are listening.
I'll admit that there have been times when I'm in a group, and we're all taking turns praying out loud. When my turn is next, I'm not sure that I'm even really listening to what the person next to me is saying. I'm thinking about what I'm going to say. Don't want to do it wrong, you know. I have some friends that outright refuse to pray out loud. They are embarrased.
But how does God feel about it? What requirements does He have for our prayers?
In Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning writes about a three-year-old daughter who draws a picture for her parents. She colors the sun black, the grass purple, and the sky green. There are squiggles and rings in seemingly random places. He writes, "Later at the office, you share with your staff your daughter's first artistic effort and you make veiled references to the early work of Van Gogh. A little child cannot do bad coloring; nor can a child of God do a bad prayer.
It's not about me. It's not about sounding spiritual and holy to my friends and co-workers. It isn't even about impressing God by weaving scripture verse into an impromptu poetic exhibition. If that comes naturally to you, then by all means, do it! But I think the awkward, simple and stumbling prayer from an honest and humble heart is just as sweet to His ears.
As Don Chapman said, "Pray as you can; don't pray as you can't."