"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." Matthew 6:7-8 (NIV) 
 
Recently, I was studying what causes people to feel spiritually frustrated. The two top reasons? Bible study and prayer.

I get it.

I can clearly remember sitting in church sweating because everyone else knew instantly how to get to every passage in the Bible the preacher man referenced. But not me. I was more interested in counting the preacher man's spit droplets than any of the fiery words he was spewing out.

Others seemed all wrapped up and excited in what this preacher man had to say. They'd shout loud, "Un-hunh's" and "Amens!" What was I missing?

And then there was my prayer life. Or the lack there-of. It's not that I didn't want to pray but the whole concept of talking to God felt weird. I tried to copy the prayers of those who seemed like they knew they were doing more than talking to the air.

But then my quirky self would sneak in and leave me feeling foolish for what I'd just said to the God of the Universe. "Dear Lord, take this food to the nourishment of my body. (Good so far.) And if you could change the molecular structure of these cheesy fries to be like carrot sticks that sure would be bomb-diggity." (Hunh?)

Like the saying goes, "We've come a long way baby." Except that I'm pretty sure you could still trip me up in finding certain passages in the Bible. And I'm pretty sure you might still hear me say bomb-diggity in my prayers. But according to what Jesus taught in Matthew 6:7, I think He's okay with that.

"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."

For me, sincerity and simplicity are two keys to unlocking spiritual frustration with both my Bible study and my prayers. Why do we make it all so complicated? In Colossians 4:2 we are instructed to, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful" (NIV).  I am challenged by these words today. Do I get up from reading my Bible and praying and start intentionally watching for God? Do I sense His activity and remember to be thankful? Watchful and thankful are great words to ponder when I start trying to overcomplicate my time with Jesus. 

I think a few honest moments spent with God reading His Word, sharing our heart, and listening for His instruction are quite perfect. I might even say they are bomb-diggity.

Dear Lord, I want to connect with You through my prayers and my Bible reading.  Help me to be watchful and sense Your activity in my life.  Help me to connect the verses I read and the prayers I pray to circumstances You bring my way each day.  Thank You for loving me even when I'm sweating in church.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.