We decided to get “weight management” dog food for our dog. She is a little overweight. Strangely (and this should have been a big clue), she got a greater volume of food with the “diet” food than with her normal food. Instead of a cup-and-a-half per meal, she got 2 cups per meal.
Anyone who understands basic physiology would understand that the more food one eats, the stomach “learns” and expands. Our dog has become accustomed to the larger amount of food and had made it quite clear that she is hungrier than she used to be. Not a real help for losing weight.
It is, however, why the “diet” food requires more volume than the regular food that is of importance…filler. The manufacturer puts more “filler” into the food, so that the dog is “deceived” into thinking they’re getting enough food. At least in our dog’s case, that trick doesn’t seem to work.
Often, we fill our prayers to God with filler. We deceive ourselves that the amount of words mean that we are praying better. Sometimes, it’s with the standard speaking filler words such as: uh, um, like, okay, and. Other times it’s filled with: Father, God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Father God.
It seems strange to consider God’s names as filler. If we were to speak to people in front of us using their name in every sentence, it would get awkward quickly. When it comes to prayer, specifically public prayer, filler has become the norm.
The prayer filler, in this case, isn’t automatically bad. It does indicate, however, that we may need to re-learn lessons from the Scriptures.
The Psalms are short and long. The longest, Psalm 119, is a poem using the letters of the Hebrew alphabet as a starting point. Don’t use that as your determiner of prayer length. Psalm 19 isn’t really a prayer yet verses 12–14 summarize what a prayer could contain. It has breadth. It also has limits.
The words, in many respects, are less important than “the meditation of the heart.” The groanings of our innermost being (Romans 8:26) gets to God. We don’t need to use lots of words, for the Holy Spirit is with us.
However, often this becomes, spew it out, let God sort it out. When it comes to the “groanings”, we seem to operate this way, but Paul’s groanings were wordless (or there are no words to say it), not lots of words.
Perhaps the greatest gift of the Lord’s Prayer is organization. We have a pattern. As we publicly or privately pray, let’s look to the Lord’s Prayer as our map. The Lord’s Prayer is simple. It is deep and profound. Yet, it is simple. Jesus’ preamble about the many words Gentiles use gives us some boundaries for our prayers. We get what to pray for and how not to pray.
1) In keeping with “the meditation of the heart”, what is the state of your heart when you pray?
2) Do you organize your prayers and petitions, or do you just speak? What is the difference between rote and organized prayer?
3) Is silent prayer ineffective? Why do we seem to judge the worth of our prayers by the number of the words we speak, rather than by the heart with which we speak?
Holy Spirit, guide the meditations of hearts and the words from our mouths to be holy and sanctified prayers that bring you, the Holy Trinity, glory and honor. Amen.