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This may be the single most important spiritual principle!

Hypocrisy or insincerity is the first thing
to guard against in prayer.
Beware not to say what you do not mean.
… Pour out your heart before Him.

– John Wesley

Do you pray? I hope so.
Do you try to pray honestly? I hope so.
Do you practice it even when it feels like you don’t know what you’re doing – or you’re not doing it right – or God might not be very impressed? I hope so.

Being honest to God – it can be done. It might be something some of us really need to work on – have to learn how to do it – have to get more comfortable with it. But it is very much worth the effort! The effort pays off. Progress can be made.

It might mean sometimes writing out one’s prayer. That helps us to be aware of
a) whether we are being honest, and
b) whether we are bringing up what we really want and need to.
But don’t try to show off with your writing!

The power of prayer is not in our emotion, nor in our eloquence, nor in traditional churchly language.
The power of prayer lies in honest, vulnerable connection between a real human and the real God.
For some of us it might mean deliberately reducing the emotion in our praying and increasing the careful work of thoughtfulness during (or leading up to) prayer.

“The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.” (1 Peter 4:7)

It does not require being rude, or bossy, pretentious, manipulative, or whiney. Those things tend to be the opposite of what’s needed – the opposite of “pour out your heart before him.” We are dealing here with the One who invented us in the first place, and who went through the enormous suffering and wrongness of the crucifixion of Christ in order to open the door for us to come back into friendship with Him. Let’s take honest, courteous advantage of that, even if sometimes it is uncomfortable, even humiliating. It will grow on you 🙂

Hypocrisy or insincerity is the first thing
to guard against in prayer.
Beware not to say what you do not mean.
… Pour out your heart before Him.

– John Wesley