Prayer & Worship in Sincerity from the Heart
Have you experienced times when your prayer or worship felt empty, meaningless, like it was just a tiresome practice you had to do? Have you found yourself repeating the same prayer or practicing the same manner of personal worship over and over again? I wish to bring attention to a single element in prayer and worship, an important element, that if lost or ignored, would make your prayers and worship of little value or power. This single element is sincerity.
Please read the following definition of sincerity,
- noun: the quality of being open and truthful; not deceitful or hypocritical
- noun: an earnest and sincere feeling
Ask yourself the question, "What kind of prayer would be pleasing to God that would turn his ear to you?". This question about God should lead a person to believe that God is pleased with openness, truthfulness, earnest and sincerity. How much more would you listen to someone if they were sincere toward you? Then so it is with God. As you read this article, you will hopefully see why.
What does God have in his heart when he speaks or impresses anyone? For those who have felt or heard the Spirit of God, they will say, "clarity, truth, heartfelt, loving, sincere, directed, sureness, supportive" among some of the most common words to describe the experience of God speaking to us. Yet God, the Father, even his Son Jesus Christ are perfect and exalted men. What kind of comparison is this between God and man? WE carry imperfection, and fall short of the mark. Well, in terms of perfection, we do fall short of the mark, but I do not speak of perfection in this article, I speak about sincerity. God with his perfection and power is very sensitive to sincerity. Consider the heart of an innocent child praying to God. If the words of that child pull on your heart, how much more would it pull on a perfect heart as Gods?
Mechanical Prayer or Worship
Let us switch the tone for a moment or two, and move away from sincerity and speak about the mechanical or emptiness of the heart. Think or reflect of the a time where your prayer or worship felt mechanical, whereby you go through the motions aimlessly, or in a dull frame of mind, or reluctantly, or merely thoughtless mechanical actions of a practice that you merely do just because. How many times have you prayed the same verse and letter over and over? How many times your mind is blank as to what to say in the prayer so you merely spew out quick words to get through it. How many times have you felt stuck of what to say in your prayer to God the Father, and felt tongue tied?
This is not to say that all people intended to become idle in their prayers with little concern about them, but some people have. Some people actually do not care about the tone or state of their heart during their prayer, and falsely believe that feeling is something they cannot afford or think that God prohibits us to feel. I hope that they also read this article because such a claim is not God's word. Merely look at the gospel, read the passage about the danger of "being past feeling" ( Eph. 4:19 / 1 Ne.17:45 ).
IN a mechanical prayer, or one that is without feeling, then it is without sincerity. Such prayers and worships are valueless because that person's heart is not freely given.
What to do About Mechanical Prayers and Worships
Many people have become stuck and did not know what to do when their prayers or worships became mechanical, cold or dull. To become stuck, feeling somewhat "dead" in the practice of prayer and worship is not unusual. Some may have tried to "liven" it up, but that is not what God wants. He does not want a performance, a show, or ingenuity of how you spiced-up the prayer or worship. God wants sincerity, a show that you do truly seek him and truly believe that prayer works and can work. Think about it, that is a mark of faith!
So what do you do?
Silent yourself first, even if you are on your knees during the attempt of prayer. Remain quiet, even still. Do nothing at that moment and then begin to ponder your feelings. Yes, your feelings, what you feel at that moment. Not necessarily about how stuck you are, but the feelings you have carried into the prayer, even if these feelings just occurred prior or have haunted you for days.
Why do I say this?
It is because, from those very feelings you have within you at that time, will be where sincerity will spring alive. From those very feelings, you can speak what you feel, and allow those true feelings to drive your words for that prayer. That is being sincere. Let me give you an example,
Some people think or believe that prayers should focus on others to send blessings, good wishes, and the sort. This I am not disputing and such a prayer is doctrinal as well, yet we are not perfect as God, able to have love 100% of the time, not able to feel goodness and compassion all the time. We will have burdens, fears, hurts, pains and even angers. It is what being in mortality is about.
Consider, it is far better to sit or kneel before God in sincerity and in truth, with honesty in your words and communication with him, than to speak empty, idle and mechanical words, even if those idle words were to ask for blessings for others. There comes a time when a person needs help for him or herself, and all the prayers for others will not change your own situation until you take note of it. To speak from within your feelings about what needs saying to the Lord. It is far better to present your position and state of affairs before God, your sorrows, troubles, hurt and fears, than it is to spew idle and mechanical words because it is the "rule". There are times when you need not pray for another, but pray for yourself and what is within you. This is because it is your progression that you are held responsible to, and if your spiritual progression becomes idle or fails, so does your faith. The Pharisee's were experts in idle worship, changing the "spirit" of the act into a ritual of rules and policies. The spirit of the act is sincerity and truth even in that very moment of prayer and worship.
The heart, when clouded with doubt, with confusion, is a heart lost of faith, even if it is about only one thing. It serves not your faith or the help to others, if you ignore the feeling(s). A clouded heart cannot be a charitable heart, because joy is missing and charity is much harder to exercise and achieve when there is no "sincerity" in the act of it.
Be not afraid to put aside the routine or ritual words you normally speak in prayer or in things you normally do in worship to God and speak directly from your feelings in your heart and mind. For our Heavenly Father seeks those to worship and pray to him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23) . Said in common words, God seeks those to pray and worship him in sincerity, honesty and true feeling of heart.