Vol.IX No.III Pg.3
May 1972

Rash Praying

Dan S. Shipley

"Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few." In a context regarding the worship of God, these words from ECC.5:2 stand as an abiding reminder of the seriousness of prayer.

God's people are not only to "pray without ceasing" (ITH.5:17), they are to pray without hypocrisy and insincerity as well. There is no reason for prayer to become less meaningful with frequency -- it can be frequent and fresh if one's attitude is right. This is why posture of spirit ought to be emphasized in prayer more than bodily posture. "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord.." (JAM.4:10) So, whether an individual stands or kneels, the heart must be bowed in prayer. When offered in the proper spirit, such prayers will always find expression in appropriate words -- so far as God is concerned anyway. A humble heart is the best antidote for a rash mouth in prayer -- and elsewhere too.

Another wise man says, "And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking". (MAT.6:7) Hasty utterances from a rash mouth and "vain repetitions" make a mockery of prayer and manifest irreverence and carelessness. Prayers that have been memorized or that come from "the top of the head" show little respect and honor for God. Neither do the many public prayers that are characterized by stereotyped and meaningless words.

Such formalistic and unoriginal prayers may become like so many "Hail Mary's", if we are not careful. Even our children must learn that true prayer is more than repeating a short poem or certain phrases over folded hands every night. Furthermore, the acceptability of prayer is not measured by its length. If the use of thoughtful and sincere expressions do shorten the prayer, then, as the wise man says, "let thy words be few". Many public prayers could be shortened in remembering that prayer is not for the purpose of informing God. This was a part of the mistake of the praying self-righteous Pharisee (LUK.18:10). Neither is the public prayer for the purpose of impressing men as Jesus shows in MAT.6:5. Remembering this might help to shorten such prayers too. As someone has well said, "In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than to have words without a heart".

An effective deterrent to rash praying is a constant awareness that "God is in Heaven, and thou upon the earth". Serious reflection upon the power, sovereignty, and majesty of God will help to promote attitudes of reverence and respect in prayer. This plus the realization of our utter dependence upon Him and our own worthlessness are absolutely essential to viewing prayer in proper perspective. The privilege of prayer is one of the greatest blessings bestowed upon the child of God in this life. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man does avail much (JAM.5:16). May we guard carefully against abusing this precious blessing.