When I was a young man growing up in my church, I was always impressed with the prayers of one man in our church. At first, I was amused by how long he would pray. I remember thinking when I heard the pastor call his name to pray that this was going to be a long one! As I grew a little older, I realized that when the pastor called his name, I was in for a special trip into the very throne room of God. Don’t mistake what I am saying … that kind of experience was possible every time I bowed my own head to pray, but this man seemed to be able to look God straight in the eye when he prayed. I always sensed that this time he prayed in public was just a speck of the time he had spent that day, and every other day in prayer. I believe this kind of praying does not come easily, but it “earned” through hours alone with God.
There is a prayer in the Bible that touches my heart every time I read it. It does not contain the word “Thee,” or “Thine,” or “Thou” (one of my pet peeves is hearing people use these words when they are praying when they never use these kinds of words in their normal conversations). This prayer was one of the most powerful … it was a prayer that got a hold on the heart of God … it was a prayer we ought to copy in our lives today. There were two men who were in the temple to pray at the same time. One of those men was there to impress those others who had gathered. The other was there to do business with God. The first prayed using all the “spiritual” words he could think of in order to impress those who were around him with his close (he thought) standing with God. I get the feeling that the second man was not even aware that there were others in the room with him. Look at the way Jesus described this scene: “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’” (Luke 18:13).
There it was … the prayer that got the attention of God in Heaven … did you catch all the big and impressive words that were used? “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Seven simple words … but seven words that touched the heart of God and not only were noticed, but answered! What is your prayer life like? Are others around you impressed, or is God impressed? God knows your heart, and He is looking for this humility in those who come to Him for help.
“I’d rather hear a man say, ‘I seen,’ when he has seen something, than to hear a man say, ‘I have seen,’ when he ain’t seen nothing.” – Bob Jones Sr