Posted under The Rectory Bulletin
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).
I was brought up in a church choir. With a face glowing with boyish charm and framed by a red cassock and ruff, I cooed like a dove. I kept my eyes on the conductor, and my place in the music. For years I sang, and sat through many services.
Like all choirboys, I had good reading material for the sermons and other distractions. The prayers, though, were a different matter. You had to kneel down, and couldn’t read. As the prayers went on, my head would drop down and rest on the choir stalls. The vicar prayed as I dozed, and at the final ‘Amen’ I would lift up my head. Opposite me was another boy who had done the same, with a tell-tale red line across his forehead letting me know he also used the choir stall as an uncomfortable pillow.
No-one taught me about prayer, so I assumed that this was it. Formal lines, read out. The Lord’s Prayer recited by heart. Nothing wrong with these, but they aren’t the whole story. There is more to prayer than these formal prayers.
Considering on this passage, Thomas Manton commented “Go, chatter out thy requests to thy Father”. Here is another side to prayer. Just speak to God, just lay it all out before him. The words and phrases don’t really matter. A father doesn’t correct the grammar of a two year old! The best way to start praying is to start praying. Just chatter out your requests.