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. (Matthew 6:7)
When we pray, we are able to approach God as a father. We can chatter out our prayers to him. We need not rest on formal prayers, or specialised rituals. Such is the great benefit of knowing God as father. And yet there is a danger. When discussing this Manton, who is happy to say that we should chatter out our prayers to God, is keen to make sure we stay in balance:
So we are directed to the contrary: Eccles. 5:2, ‘Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth; therefore let thy words be few.’ Remember, you have to do with a great God, and do not babble things over impertinently in his ears. (Thomas Manton)
This is the balance which we find in the opening words of the Lord’s Prayer itself. We have a father, but he is in heaven. We can approach a holy God, but we are not holy. Our prayers may be made easily, but they should be coloured with awe.
Of course, it is this balance which makes prayer the most extraordinary activity we can undertake. If we were able to spend five minutes speaking freely with the Queen, we would find the prospect both thrilling and daunting. How much more when we are approaching the King of Heaven! The more we can keep this balance in our minds, the richer our prayers will be.