There is a classic hymn by the title “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” I love this hymn, but I have to confess, I do not think I’ve ever spent an hour in prayer.
When I was younger, I felt that the more you had to say to God, the more spiritually mature you were. The real spiritual giants could pray for hours. My prayers look more like tweets than sermons. And I’m beginning to think that’s not that bad.
The power of the Tweet rests in it’s limitation to 140 characters or less. This limitation can become an opportunity reaching far beyond social media and actually teach us something about prayer.
Tweets must be concise.
Twitter doesn’t have room for you to talk on and on about what you want to say. You can’t spend a couple of paragraphs warming up the conversation. You have to know what you are saying. Tweets get to the point. Prayers should too.
Matthew 6:7 reads “and when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”
I’m not saying that God isn’t willing to listen to long prayers. What I am saying is that you don’t need to use a lot of words to be heard by God. God knows your thoughts already. A short prayer offered in sincerity is worth more than an thousands words offered in arrogance.
Some of my most powerful prayers were only a couple of words.
“Lord help me.”
“I need you God.”
Tweets must be clear.
With little room to explain, good tweets are clear. Writing a tweet that says what you want in such few words takes a little thought. Our prayers should be the same.
Consider the story from Luke 11:5-8. Jesus was teaching on prayer, when he tells a story of a man. This guy has an unexpected visitor and needs food to host his friend. He goes to his neighbor and asks for bread. In the urgency of the moment, he doesn’t talk about why he might not deserve the bread, or why he’s probably being a bother, or how he could use some milk if it’s available. He asks for bread.
The man knew exactly what he wanted from his neighbor. It was simple and clear. There was no confusion about what he wanted. Are you this clear with God? Even if it means letting God know that you’re not sure what to ask for?
Tweets must be consistent.
The trick to social media has always been consistency. A good Twitter account is updated at least 3-4 times a day.
The same with prayer. Eventually, his neighbor turns him away. This doesn’t deter the man. Instead, he keeps knocking. And when that doesn’t work, he knocks some more.
“I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.” Luke 11:8
I love this passage. I feel like God is giving us permission to flood God’s inbox with as many emails as it takes. God is giving us permission to be annoying. God is giving us permission to keep retweeting our requests.
How many times do you knock? Keep knocking until you prayer is answered; your circumstances change, or your heart is different.
It doesn’t take a book worth of words to pray effectively. Keep it concise, clear, and consistent.