Freedom from Guilty Prayers

When I get home today, I’m likely to see the same thing that I see every day that I come home.

My three-year-old son will run up to the door dressed as his favorite superhero, Captain Nudity, and shout, “Hi, dad!”  I’ll give him a big hug and kiss and tell him that I love him.

My six-year-old son will go hide somewhere and wait for me to find him.  When I finally do find him, I’ll give him a hug and a kiss too.  “I love you, son.”

Then, I’ll kiss my wife.

“I love you.”

This same scenario plays out every single day of my workweek.

And it never gets old.

I never say to my wife, “You know, I’m getting tired of hearing those three words I, love and you.  Tomorrow, could you switch it up a little and say something like, ‘My love for you grows from within me like a seedling destined to become a mighty oak?’  I think it would help to keep things fresh.”

In Matthew 6:7, Jesus warns his disciples not to use empty phrases.  I think about that warning when I pray over my family.  I’m essentially asking the same thing every time – continued growth in holiness, good health and protection.

I wonder to myself, with a sense of low-grade guilt, if I’m using empty phrases.  Should I do a better job of switching up my prayers each day so that I can avoid falling into this trap?  Maybe a schedule would help.

Monday – Ask God to make my sons men of God

Tuesday – Ask God to make my sons mighty warriors for God

Wednesday – Ask God to make my sons godly males.

You get the point.

The answer is no.

Jesus’ warning was against the kind of prayer that has no meaning behind it.  The kind of prayer that is treated more as a ritual or performance than communication with the Sovereign Creator of the universe.  The kind of prayer that sounds like one long, mumbly sentence.


Everyday.  Every meal.  For 20 years.

I don’t get tired of hearing my family tell me that they love me because I know that there is meaning behind what they are saying.

When we pray, our Father is not concerned with us mixing up the words so that we keep things fresh.  He’s more interested in a heart that is fully engaged and reliant upon him.

So Christian, lose the guilt and just come to your Father in prayer.  He demands that you do this regularly (Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 18:1-8).  And stop worrying about the words that you use.  No matter how eloquent you think you sound, you really don’t know what you’re saying.  It’s the Holy Spirit who’s doing all of the heavy lifting for you (Romans 8:26).

When I walk through the door today, my sons will come to me with some sort of a loud, grammatically incorrect greeting.

Their subject verb agreement and lack of adequate clothing is of no concern to me.

I’m just glad that they are coming to me.

When you love someone, the simple, everyday things never get old.