On eloquence (or lack thereof) in prayer


EloquenceI must confess that I am sometimes intimidated about praying in a church gathering such as a prayer meeting or small group. My brain is not wired to call up Old Testament images about restoring what the locusts have eaten or calling down mighty angels. These references make those adept at praying sound so . . . so . . . spiritual and powerful.

I am not poking fun at them, I really am impressed with some people’s ability to think of these things to spice up their prayer. Such eloquence is a gift, it just happens to be a gift that I do not possess.

But some encouragement came to me during a recent reading of Exodus 5.

That chapter records that Pharaoh increased the workload on the Israelites as a result of Moses’ request to let the people of Israel celebrate a feast to God. The Israelites, in turn, confronted Moses blaming him for the increased hardship.

Moses then brings this to God. Notice the language of his prayer:

“O Lord, why have you brought harm to this people? Whey did you ever send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done harm to this people and you have not delivered your people at all.” – Exodus 5:22-23

That prayer contains no flowery language. It is short and honest. Moses asks the questions that are on his heart and tells God why he is asking. There is no hiding behind excess words here. Moses comes to God and directly tells him what is on his mind.

This encourages me that prayer does not need to be eloquent to be effective. It is OK to come directly to the point. It is OK to be honest and straight-forward.

I suppose the lesson is that there is no best way to pray. The important thing is to do it.