the how and why of prayer

We take it for granted that we know how to pray. It comes naturally and even the most hardened people have been willing to pray in times of distress and trouble. But Bonhoeffer bluntly states, “Even where prayer is cultivated with discipline and perseverance it can still be profitless and void of God’s blessing.”
Just because people do pray does not mean they know how to pray. In Matthew 6, prayer can fail because what we pray and why we pray can fail. Bonhoeffer says prayer is “never given to self-display, whether before God, ourselves, or other people. If God were ignorant of our needs, we should have to think out beforehand how we should tell Him about them, what we should tell Him, and whether we should tell Him or not.”
Christ tells us that we do not need to ramble on so that we are heard for our many words. Brevity is more important than eloquence. Christ tells us not to pray for an audience, but to pray in secret. Privacy is more important than publicity.

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