The expression, the prayer in fact that so infuriated the flint-hearted priests and rabbis-HOSANNA-actually translates as “Save us now, we beseech Thee!” And that prayer from an honest, broken heart, is one He will never ignore.
There is however, prayers that are-have become-almost mechanical in style and no more effective than those Buddhists write on slips of paper, insert into their ‘prayer wheels” which they then spin, and spin, and spin, in the belief that every rotation adds another prayer to those myriads gone before. The Bible refers to such practice as “multiplying words”, and words can be multiplied vocally and equally as conveniently as mechanically. The prayer that really, instantly clears the traffic jam, and is as instantly heard AND answered is akin to that prayed by the penitent publican, who not even daring to lift up his eyes to heaven, from a full heart pleaded, God, be merciful to me a sinner”. Everything necessary was in that prayer! No excuses, no rationalizing of past behavior, no attempt to unload onto others the blame for his present state: just the acknowledgment of his own sinful state and a claim by faith, that only through God’s mercy could he expect cleansing. That no price or cost would be effective, and the One who and answered the leper with the statement, “I will: be thou clean!” worked that same cleansing here: we are told that the publican “went down to his house justified”. Thereafter the duty was his to by daily justification achieve sanctification.
But perhaps, not all word-“ multiplying” is unacceptable. I remember hearing some years back of a widow, whose three sons, after their father’s death looked out from the, to them, apparent narrow restraints of Seventh-day Adventism, to the world found it attractive: went out for a closer look and experience, and liked what they found so well that they stayed there. Their Mother, over the next twenty or so years, prayed over and over the same four-word prayer, “LORD, save my boys”. “LORD, save my boys”. Twenty, thirty, forty and more times daily. She herself died before her prayer was ever answered. But in the kingdom she will meet the Lord’s answer: three of them, all returned to God: all faithful and very effective workers in His Vineyard.
Prayer has been in extremely simple terms, as “talking to God”, but it is much more-very much more than such a simplistic definition. (Prayer is such a deep and complex subject). The full flowering of one’s prayer experience is defined really as the “prayer Life”, and my readers may with profit spend some time developing that theme for themselves. Prayer is more than merely conversation.
Conversation is a two-way experience.
“I tell Him all my sorrows;
I tell Him all my joys
I tell Him all that pleases me;
I tell Him what annoys
He tells me what I ought to do;
He tells me how to try,
And so we walk together,
My Lord and I.”