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How polished should our prayers be when we pray to God?  It's one of many questions Christians, and many non-Christians alike, carry with them in life. 

Recently, I was reminded about how beautiful the prayer of a newborn Christian can be.  It's a prayer spoken from the heart, in their own natural vernacular (which likely isn't politically correct, and may include swear words, unrefined verbiage, poor grammar, and more linguistic faux pas).  It's a prayer that's raw, transparent, authentic, personal and speaks directly to God's heart. 

I've witnessed men receiving Christ while reading a prepared "sinner's prayer," only then afterwards to pray/speak similar thoughts directly from their hearts to God, using their own words.  Sometimes coarse words fly during the prayer, but it's obvious that they're not said in vengeance.  They're spoken in confession and repentance.  It's rather a beautiful context to hear those words spoken that many legalistic Christians would outright dismiss!

While I don't condone the use of foul language in prayer (especially if the Christian has been growing in his/her faith and walk with God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit), for someone who has yet to come to faith, or who is beginning to place his/her faith in Jesus, God will not ignore the prayer from a person's heart towards His.

We're reminded by Jesus in Luke 18:9-14 that a prideful heart hinders prayer, but a humble heart is honored by God:

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

As a Christian who can fall into a trap of feeling his prayers must sound a certain way, possibly with a certain flow or elegance; it's a humbling reminder that we need not perform before our Father.  He's impressed with the position of the heart (especially a heart humbled towards Himself), and not the outward words or actions in prayer that can often appeal far more for man's impressions than to God Himself.  Prayerful actions will flow out of the humbled heart, and it is God who searches the heart, not man.

We should never feel paralyzed from praying simply because we're not sure if we can word a prayer "correctly."  Jesus gave us an excellent model of prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) that we will do well to both pray, and study in depth!

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Comment by Andrew R. Wheeler on August 13, 2016 at 10:29pm

What great words, Rob!  Just before the prayer you mentioned, Jesus warned us not to pray for people to hear as the Pharisees did, but rather for God's ears.  We pray to a God who already knows our needs, and who at the same time longs to have us submit those needs to his care in prayer.  I have been greatly freed up in my prayer life by the realization that I don't need to recite a long list of details before an all-knowing God; I can make a simple request from the heart and he will hear and answer according to his will. 

Comment by Lewis Turner on August 13, 2016 at 2:14pm

Rob--Well said.  God looks on the heart. 

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