"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." Matthew 6:7-8 (NIV)
Recently, I was studying what causes people to feel spiritually frustrated. The two top reasons? Bible study and prayer. I get it.
I clearly remember being a young girl sitting in church sweating. People around me knew what they were doing! They instantly flipped to every verse in the Bible the preacher man referenced. But not me. I was more interested in counting the spit droplets that came flying out with his punctuated words.
I respected that man. But boy, could he get fired up and entertain this lost girl.
Others seemed all wrapped up and excited in what this preacher man and the Bible had to say. They'd shout loud, "Uh-huhs" and "Amens!" What was I missing?
And then there was my prayer life. Or the lack thereof. It's not that I didn't want to pray, but the whole concept of talking to God felt strange. I tried to copy the prayers of those who seemed to know they were doing more than talking to the air.
But then my quirky self would sneak in and leave me feeling foolish for what I'd just said to God. "Dear Lord, take this food to the nourishment of my body. (Good so far.) And if you could change the molecular structure of these cheesy fries to be like carrot sticks that sure would be the bomb-diggity." (Huh?)
Yes, I've come a long way since those days, but trust me when I say I'm still a work in progress. You could still trip me up in finding certain passages in the Bible. And I'm pretty sure you might still hear me say "bomb-diggity" in my prayers. But according to what Jesus taught in our key verse, Matthew 6:7-8, I think He's okay with that.
"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."
For me, there are two keys to unlocking spiritual frustration with both my Bible study and my prayers:
Sincerity — coming to God without an agenda and honestly wanting Him to teach me.
Simplicity — talking to God as the loving Father He is.
Why do we make it all so complicated?
I think honest moments spent with God reading His Word, sharing our hearts, and listening for His instruction are quite perfect. No "just right" words or having to know exactly where every book in the Bible is. Just a pure heart simply and sincerely longing to know her God. Jesus might even say that's the bomb-diggity.
Dear Lord, thank You for hearing what is on my heart in the midst of both happiness and frustration. I don't want to make my relationship with You complicated, God, so please help me to come to You with honest thoughts and prayers. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources: Did this devotion speak to you right where you are? If so, check out Lysa TerKeurst's book Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl for more encouragement as you deepen your relationship with God.
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Reflect and Respond: Have you been feeling spiritually frustrated lately?
Take some time today to have an honest conversation with the Lord. It may even help you to first write down what you want to pray about, reflect on it, and then lift your prayers up to Him.
Power Verses: Psalm 4:1, "Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer." (NIV)
Psalm 145:18, "The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth." (NIV)
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