Why the shortest prayer wins

May 17, 2014

Matthew 6:7-8 (in context)

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.


I wonder if Jesus was thinking about Elijah when he was teaching his disciples how to pray.

For twelve solid hours, four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, prayed in all sorts of loud incantations  and formulaic prophecies over and over and over again. Nothing happened.

For thirty seconds, one prophet, Elijah, prayed a prayer that was all of 58 words and the prayer was answered.

As I count it, the Lord’s Prayer comes to about 53 words.

That sounds about right.

You who have tasted of the grace of God in Christ Jesus are throughly convinced, “your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask him.” So that the end of your praying is not to inform God, as though he knew not your wants already; but rather to inform yourselves; to fix the sense of those wants more deeply in your hearts, and the sense of your continual dependence on him who only is able to supply all your wants. It is not so much to move God, who is always more ready to give than you to ask, as to move yourselves, that you may be willing and ready to receive the good things he has prepared for you.  p.119

Longer, Louder, Intense.  vs. Shorter, Softer, Gentle.

You pick.

I think he’s trying to tell us that it’s not about our prayers. It’s about our God.

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J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at

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