Hello, brothers and sisters, have you heard this story? There was a theology student who was able to recite many pleasant-sounding words of prayer. Every day before meals he would come before the Lord and recite some words by heart, because he thought the Lord liked such prayers. And every time he finished praying he would put a walnut into a glass vase as a sign that he was loyal to the Lord. One night, he dreamed the Lord asked him to crack open the walnuts in the vase, and after he did so he found that each of them was empty.
This story tells us that the Lord doesn’t accept such prayers as the theology student made; in the Lord’s eyes such prayers are hollow. They sound like something pleasant to the ear and words in praise of the Lord, but in essence, such prayers are just spoken as a formality, and are echoes of some nice but hollow and unrealistic words. How could the Lord commend them?
says, “Prayer is not a case of going through the formalities, or following procedure, or reciting the words of God, which is to say, prayer does not mean parroting words and copying others. In prayer, you must give your heart to God, sharing the words in your heart with God so that you may be touched by God.” “God does not need adulation or flattery and He does not require that people speak nonsense and praise Him blindly. God abhors and will not even listen to praise and flattery that is out of line with reality. So, when some people blindly praise God and what they say doesn’t match what’s in their heart and when they blindly make vows to God and carelessly pray to Him, God does not listen at all. You must take responsibility for what you say. If you don’t know something, just say so; if you do know something, express it in a practical way.”
From this we can see that prayers God accepts aren’t parroting pleasant words or words of praise, because praying this way isn’t opening our hearts to God or saying to Him what is in our hearts, but is just going through the motions and fawning on God. Very often, we say things pleasing to the ear in front of God but don’t put them into practice in our real lives; this is being perfunctory with God, and is the method that dupes God. Take the Pharisees’ prayers for example. The words in their prayer were nice-sounding. They said in prayer that they donated one tenth of their earnings every month, but secretly they pocketed widows’ possessions; they cried their hearts out in prayer and yearned for the Messiah to come soon, but when the Messiah came to do His work, they didn’t have an attitude of seeking or acceptance, and even obstructed people from accepting the’ appearance and work. From this we can see that their praying was hypocrisy, was going through the motions, and was deceitful. Their prayers were empty and unrealistic.
In fact, this sort of prayer exists in us to different degrees. For example, some of us pray to the Lord, “O Lord, You suffered so much pain to redeem us; You deserve our reverential love and praise. No matter what problems I may encounter in the future, I will love You and satisfy You….” But when we encounter unhappy circumstances in our work or life, we blame and misunderstand the Lord, and don’t think He is kind and loveable. And some say in their prayer that they wish to devote their whole life to expending themselves and working for the Lord, and wish to love the Lord with all their heart, mind and strength to repay His love. But when their families oppose their belief in God or when they encounter the temptation of money, they forget the prayer they have made before the Lord, and follow the world, sinking into the temptation. And so on. All these prayers are merely going through the formalities. The words in the prayers are pleasant-sounding but hollow, which are not able to be put into practice. There is no difference at all between praying in this way and the way the Pharisee prayed. No matter how spiritual or how nice such prayers are, they are merely falsehoods and empty words, which are used to curry the favor of God or to trick Him, and God doesn’t hear them at all.
The Lord Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). These words state very clearly that God requires that we pray to Him with an honest heart, and that we speak to Him openly and say to Him whatever we think in our hearts. Our prayers should not be echoing words or copying others for the sake of ingratiating ourselves with God, but should be saying practical things to Him based on our actual stature. For example, because of lacking knowledge of the Lord, we may blame Him when we encounter unhappy circumstances or something not in accordance with our own ideas. Under this condition, we can tell the Lord our true thoughts, saying: “My stature is small now, I have no knowledge of You, and when I encounter these difficulties I misunderstand and complain against You. Please help and guide me so that I can understand Your will, be reasonable and won’t speak sinfully.” Furthermore, when we want to expend ourselves for the Lord but face opposition from our family or encounter the temptation of money, we should tell the Lord about our true state, saying: “I feel a little weak in the face of these issues and can’t overcome them. May You guide me to see through Satan’s tricks and give me faith and strength so that I can resolutely follow You. Prayers like these all come from the heart and are done in order to understand the Lord’s will. They are heartfelt prayers as well as in line with the Lord’s will. As long as we practice speaking to the Lord from the heart and completely open our hearts to Him, He will hear and accept our prayers; on the contrary, if our prayers are not spoken from the heart, no matter how spiritual or how nice the words are, the Lord will have no interest whatsoever in our prayers.
Finally, I’d like to share two passages of God’s words with everyone.
God says, “Whilst praying, your heart must be at peace before God, and it must be sincere. You are truly communing and praying with God; you must not deceive God using nice-sounding words.” “The lowest standard that God requires of people is that they be able to open their hearts to Him. If man gives his true heart to God and says what is really within his heart to God, then God is willing to work in man; God does not want the twisted heart of man, but his pure and honest heart. If man does not truly speak his heart to God, then God does not touch man’s heart, or work within him. Thus, the most crucial thing about praying is to speak the words of your true heart to God, telling God of your flaws or rebellious disposition and completely opening yourself up to God. Only then will God be interested in your prayers; if not, then God will hide His face from you.”
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