From the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “The fewer the words, the better the prayer.” (Martin Luther)
Jack went on to write – Luther was following the advice of Jesus: “When you pray, don’t keep babbling like pagans who think that they’ll be heard because of their many words.”
He also mentioned the words of advice from FDR for giving a speech, which applies to praying, too. “Be sincere, be brief, be seated.”
This past Sunday our pastor used a story about a commencement speech that Winston Churchill gave, in which, after a long introduction, Churchill strode to the podium and said, “Never give up!” He then returned to his seat and sat down. The stunned audience sat in silence, not knowing what to do. Churchill returned to the podium and said, “Never give up.” He again returned to his seat. Churchill did this several times before the audience finally realized the greatness of his brief advice.
The sermon this week was brief, about 10 minutes total, as it usually is. Our pastor takes to heart the advice of George Burns, who said – “The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.” That is also good advice for speeches and blog posts.
Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg gave one of America’s greatest speeches in 1863. At the time, giving speeches was a very important way to communicate and lengthy speeches, some lasting for hours, especially by politicians, were common. Lincoln’s speech lasted all of 2 minutes and was only 272 words long, yet it changed history. Watch a video about this brief, but important speech.
Brevity in writing and in speech is both powerful and appreciated by the listeners and readers (although sometimes misunderstood at the time). The less we fill our speech with meaningless words and phrases, like “like” or “you know” the better. Those are time wasters for the listener and a sure indication that you have engaged your mouth before engaging your brain and now need verbal pauses to allow your brain time to try to catch up.
Prayers can be like that, too. People tend to babble on, enumerating for God (as if He didn’t know already) all of the perceived problems in their lives. I’ve posted here many times a simple, short prayer that covers everything that one needs to say to God to get the help that they need – “Not my will, but Thy will be done”. Then be seated.
The message here is clear. Be brief. Be concise. Be quiet. Enough said.