Dom Chapman said this about talking with God, “Pray as you can, not as you can’t.”
We often blame our lack of praying on many different things, especially our busyness. But being busy doesn’t keep us from doing things we really want to do like eating, sleeping, shopping, watching sports, etc. Theologian and author Richard Foster says it is something deeper and more profound that keeps us from it. That “something” could be many different things, but there is “something” that needs your immediate attention. It is the notion that we have to have everything exactly right in order to pray. You have to have the right heart and the right attitude and the right words and the right motives. It’s not that there isn’t a point where we have to deal with these things, but my suggestion to you is to not put the cart before the horse. Prayer isn’t something you master like a field of study. To be honest, I used to worry about my motives when I would come to the Lord in prayer. Here’s the truth of the matter. We all come to prayer with a big mess of motives. We can be hateful and hurtful and bitter and selfish. Sometimes, we can be all those things wrapped into one!
Jesus taught us that if we want to enter the Kingdom of heaven, we have to come like little children. I believe there is a great lesson in that when it comes to our prayer life. Sometimes kids come to their parents with the craziest requests! We shake our heads and wonder where they come up with such things. We might even get a little frustrated at their selfishness. But we would be even more frustrated if they never came to us at all, even in their craziness and selfishness. As parents, we are just glad when they come to talk to us, regardless of their motives.
This is exactly how it is with prayer. This side of heaven, you and I will never be good enough or have pure enough motives to pray “correctly.” Sometimes people will say, “The Lord knows my heart” like that is a good thing! It’s not! But that doesn’t mean that we can’t set aside all these things and pray simple prayers to our Heavenly Father. Simple prayers, with all of their impure motives and crazy questions, are the most recorded prayers in all of the Bible. Why? Because it is in our simple prayers, and the very act of praying itself, that God begins to deal with our impure thoughts and motives in due time.