“Let's pray real quick." Most who read this blog have been part of Bible studies, small groups, etc. in which these words are uttered regularly.
I've thought for a while about how the statement "let's pray real quick" makes some assumptions. First of all it assumes that whatever is coming next is the real deal: let's get this part out of the way; let’s make it happen, and quickly. Or, let’s do it at the beginning since if we don't, we'll feel guilty or less spiritual. Or maybe, we’ve always done it this way—it has become our habit, and habits are hard to break.
This musing isn't a rant, or advocating praying "longer”, as much as it is asking us to consider why we say “let's pray real quick” before things. Are we aware that out of habit we are indeed emphasizing the superiority of what is to follow over this “quick” prayer up front? Do we elevate teaching to the meat position, and reduce prayer to an appetizer? Don't get me wrong, I'm a teacher and love to study, prepare, and deliver. I just wonder if we have it backwards.
You never hear “let's teach real quick” or “let's sing real quick”. It's always “let's pray real quick”. Habit yes, but perhaps something deeper is ingrained in us. It could be the fact that praying is difficult, and we don't like it when things are difficult. It could be that if the enemy can get us to minimize prayer, he can slither in closer to distract us and get the upper hand. Hmm, I never see Jesus saying, hey, let's get to the healing part or teaching part. He's always getting alone with the Father to pray. Read John chapter 17 slowly. Aren't you glad Jesus didn't say, “let's pray real quick”?
If Jesus is at the right hand of His Father in heaven (Luke 22:69), if the Spirit of God intercedes for us (Romans 8:26-27), I don't think prayer is an afterthought or a “real quick” thing. In fact it ought to be a constant: pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NIV). Ouch!
So when tempted to "pray real quick", ask yourself why do I do this? Habit? Denominational culture? I've always done it this way? And then work on developing a new habit when you pray:
Pause. Linger. Listen. Connect. Don't pray short. Don't pray long. Pray always.