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“Dear God, thank you for this day. Thank you for this food and help it to strengthen and nourish our bodies. Bless and be with us as we go through this day. Forgive us for our sins, for we ask it in Jesus’ name, amen.”
Sound familiar? This, or a similar version is the same prayer many Christians parrot day after day, myself included. Sometimes I hear this prayed at church and feel like I am listening to an NPC. Something along the lines of, “I used to be an adventurer like you, but then I took an arrow to the knee.” When everyone says the same thing, the words begin to lose their meaning.  After talking to a NPC so many times and hearing the same thing, we stop listening because there’s no point.
I’m certainly not implying God stops listening to us when our prayers get repetitive, but I imagine he must feel similar to a player forced to sit through dialogue he’s heard a million times already. Mark 6:7 says, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like Pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” He desires quality over quantity. Even if that means we don’t know what to say, that gives time for us to be quiet and him to speak.
This week I have been practicing this. Instead of asking God to bless me, I’ve asked him to use me to bless him. I’ve thought out my sins and confessed instead of making a blanket statement.  Instead of asking him to be with me, I ask him to live in me through whatever I am doing that day. It’s not easy. In fact, I find my prayers seem shorter and more hesitant because putting thought into your words is difficult, but I feel I’m actually communicating with God instead of simply repeating a memorized mantra over my food.
We ask him to be with us and bless us, but he has already done that more than we will ever deserve. We ask him to forgive our sins like it is something to close with, but seldom confess directly what we have done. Let us think about what we are praying. Let us pray something challenging and thoughtful instead of something easy and memorized. And let us listen when we pray instead of “babbling.” God is our father and wants a real conversation with a real person, not with a NPC.

Christina Graham

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