“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” — Ecclesiastes 5:1-2
The disposition of our hearts are foremost when we approach God in prayer (Luke 18:9-14) and next are our words. Scripture is funny on this — the God who made all things does not suffer fools. Fools think many words impress, proper flow and inflection, an opening and closing in proper format, a couple of good “Oh Lord”s thrown in for good measure. What impresses man does not impress God, though God can be impressed. Humble, contrite hearts full of faith and awe greatly impress God.
Ecclesiastes is wonderful for this, showing us how what we value is foolishness before God. Let us be awful before God. Beat our chest and cry out for mercy on us sinners as we recognize how wide a gap Christ bridged in his awful death on the cross, a bridge that allows us bold approach to the throne of grace.
Let us be full of awe at the sight of Him, the ageless One, the Sustainer of all things, the Incomprehensible. What do you say to one such as Him? Words ought to fail us, though, judging by the way we pray, they rarely do fail us. We ought to often have little more than desperate, guttural groans that only the Spirit understands. Let us be so awful and awe-full that words fail us, that we have no other recourse but to hear a word from Him that opens the floodgates for us to speak in reply.
Maybe our prayers should be replies? Replies to the awfulness of God, replies to His Word, both written and freshly spoken. If we petition, let it be with humility, recognizing His will is supreme. We are free to approach, and boldly, but let us be awful, and awe-full, that our hearts and our words would never be foolish.