How Loud and Long Do Prayers Have to Be?

“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.” Matthew 6:7

We recently finished a series on the life of Elijah the prophet of God. One of the famous passages is found 1 Ki. 18:20-40, when Elijah challenged the prophets of the idol Baal to a test that would prove once and for all who was the real God of Israel. 

The test involved a sacrifice on an altar and an invitation to reign fire from heaven to consume it. The prophets of Baal went first, and they spent an entire day praying to Baal. They cried out, danced, and even cut themselves to get the attention and gain the favor of their god but he never replied. When Elijah’s turn came, he enhanced the challenge by ordering the altar and sacrifice soaked with water, so there would be no doubt the God’s fire was powerful. He simply prayed and fire came from heaven and consumed the altar and sacrifice. What a contrast of prayers in terms time, effort, and impact! 

“Then what should the prayers of God’s people be like?” 

Apparently, some of the prayer practices of the Gentiles had seeped into Jewish life with people publicly repeating the same words over and over again, in an attempt to get God’s attention and favor, (Mt. 6:5-7). Jesus’s instructions on prayer are found in Mt. 6:6 & 9, “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door, and pray to your Father…Pray, then in this way: ‘Our Father who is heaven”.

God’s people can pray to God like a child comes to his/her their parent. Our prayers to our loving Heavenly Father don’t need to be loud or long because we have already has His love, attention, and favor. 

Pastor Arnold Wong