We could learn a lesson. Does not God invite us to bring our cares to Him—big or little? If it is a care to us, it is a care to Him (1 Pet. 5:7). Cast those cares on the Lord without worrying what they are or what others may think. Jesus said we needed to receive the Kingdom with the faith of a child (Mark 10:15); surely, we should pray with the same faith.
Listen to a teenager pray, and you will hear freshness. Some of the most encouraging moments I have had in prayer have been spent with young people. A teen is beginning to awaken to the needs and sorrows of the world, and when that teen loves the Lord, he will carry that burden to the Lord with as much sincerity (and sometimes more) than an adult. They are genuine, unlike some adults who try to sound spiritual in their prayers. They are fresh, unlike some adults who have developed repetitive phrases and pet clichés in their prayers. We could all use a dose of their freshness.
Listen to an adult pray, and you will hear maturity. Clearly, they are familiar with the “prayer language” of the church, and they “know” what requests to ask for in a prayer meeting. While such maturity can be a hindrance to the simple faith that God desires of us or the fresh appeal of the soul, maturity is not bad. After all, maturity often is gained through the hard experiences of life. Therefore, the adult knows the depth of pain and the seriousness of certain difficulties in a way that a child or teenager could never know.
The knowledge that we gain through maturity affects our prayers. It should make us consider the deeper needs of life. For example, the spiritually minded adult knows that although healing from disease is good and worthy of prayer, spiritual healing is better. Allow the maturity that you have gained through life inform your prayers. In other words, consider the deeper needs as well as what is on the surface when you pray. The Lord desires to meet these needs, too. Consider the hidden pains of others, and pray with more empathy.
Listen to an elderly saint pray, and you will see God. By far, the greatest prayers I have heard are not the ones that are eloquent but the ones that have ushered me into the presence of God. Those who have walked with God for years, have talked with God daily, and have had their lives saturated with His Word, are those who know how to pray. Their prayers are filled with God’s thoughts because they have allowed God’s Spirit to work His Word deeply into their souls. Their prayers are submissive to God and His will.
We ought to make these saints our primary teachers when it comes to prayer because they know that prayer is not simply about getting petitions answered but about communing with the God of Heaven. Learn to pray as they do—from a heart fully devoted to and in constant love with God. The words of Charles Spurgeon apply here: “A little faith will bring your soul to heaven; a great faith will bring heaven to your soul.”
—Wayne P. Cooper