I have been thinking about prayer.
During Wednesday evening prayer meeting (what better time, right?), the group was discussing the Trinity, and our conversation turned to the proper way to begin and end a prayer.
Some folks opined that one should begin with "Dear God" or "Father" since the Lord's Prayer's "Our Father" provides a biblical model, some chose "Dear Jesus." Others referred to addressing the Holy Spirit, while still others didn't think it mattered all that much because each entity is part of the one triune God. (I fell into the latter category.)
You see, I have uttered prayers that ran the gamut from formal to desperate, depending on the given situation. As a pastor's wife of several decades, I've observed many prayers and have come to the conclusion that there are as many styles of prayer as there are people who pray.
For example, there are the King James-ers. These folks prefer the formal approach. They adopt the lofty language found in the King James Bible. They dot each prayer with a liberal sprinkling of "thous," "thees," "thys" and "eths." (You know, words that end in eth, like asketh, seeketh, provideth, and giveth.)
It sounds impressive, but once King James-ese gets hold of a person, it's hard to let go. (I found this out after church the other day when I heard a parishioner telling another one that they were heading to McDonaldeths for luncheth.)
On the other end of the spectrum are the "friends of Jesus." Granted, the Lord is indeed our friend, but some folks take it a bit too far. I may be old-fashioned, but in my opinion the God of the universe shouldn't be greeted like the guy you hang out with at the gym. (Prayer should never begin with "Yo, Holy Dude.")
While "Father" might well be the prescribed way to address God, there are people who feel the need to interject his name all throughout their prayer in an annoying manner. It's like folks who say "ya know" after every third word.
You've heard them: "Father, we ask, Father, that you bless this day, Father, because, Father, we know, Father, that you make each new day, Father, for your edification, Father" (Yikes!).
Of course, there are the long-winded folks.
These people can't find the shut-off switch, praying for everything from world peace to the preservation of the Venezuelan White-faced Saki Monkey.
On the other hand, there are the to the point folks who belong to the "less is more" school of thought. They say things like "Father, you know my needs. Amen." It's like the Morse Code of prayer.
Different people; different prayer styles. When you get right down to it, the way we pray isn't really all that important.
What matters most is our sincerity. God looks beyond our language and sees inside our hearts.