Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

Praying from the Gut

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Sometimes I “try” to pray, with a deliberate discipline and effort. Well and good. But other times I find that prayers come bursting out of me accidently. I wonder, is reaching out to God when I’m at the raw edges of my life really the most natural way to live and the most natural way to pray? Do I pray best when I’m praying most naturally?  Here’s another piece from my book, Six Prayers God Always Answers.

Prayer can and does flow deliberately from discipline or habit, but it can also burst through instinctively. Real prayer hides.


Often the most precious prayers don’t look like prayers at all. They come out unbidden. They accidentally rupture, impulsively burst forth, or covertly distance themselves. They are buried in our unfiltered reactions to the joys and pains and fears of typical days in typical lives. If such prayers could find a voice of their own they may not even realize they were prayers at all. They sound unassuming, unpretentious, brash, down-to-earth and often shockingly irreverent.


A near miss at a busy intersection and someone screams.  

An employer breaks a promise and the victim mumbles.

A patient hears a medical report, covers her mouth, and weeps.

A soldier deployed in the desert holds a perfumed letter and pounds his helmet against a cement wall.


“Oh, my god.”


It is hardly an exaggeration to call prayer an instinct. Before we think, consider the implications, weigh the probabilities, or balance our philosophic algebra, we pray.


It seems our prayers well up around the things we love: love of a child, love of a spouse, love of beauty, love of our own lives. And conversely, around those things we fear–the fear of losing what we love.


Consider these expressions:

God, help me, I’ll never do it again.

God, are you there?

Goddamn it!

Save me, God!

Please, God!

Oh, god, you’re beautiful.


Whether on TV, in the movies, or in conversation, people thoughtlessly invoke the name of God into the mundane (“Oh, my God!”) and the profane (“Jesus Christ!”). Believers are offended–convinced it is disrespectful, even blasphemous. Nonbelievers toss it up to a slip of the tongue or simply “cultural expression.”


But what if these were really prayers?

Have you ever prayed without knowing it was prayer? Have you ever intended to pray and failed? What if the best way to communicate with God is to do it most instinctively, to stop intending and trying and to simply speak honestly to God out of the raw moments? What do you say?

  • Your Name

    Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank U God

  • Mark Herringshaw

    Thank you God… Agreed!

  • alicia

    I often wonderdered all those things, Tha just maybe speaking the lord’s name and saying thank you is considered a pray. I believe that they are ways of communicating with the father and letting him know we still care.

  • Your Name

    Just being able to have that personal communication with our Lord is what makes all things possible. He wants us to pray and pray on a daily basis no time in specific. He is with us at all times……he hears us, he sees us, he protects us, always. He is our shield until our time.
    I know look forward in praying and just saying “Thank you” Lord for the many blessings you give us all everyday and for those blessings that go unnoticed”. It’s just so awesome to know that we are heard….take some time 1 day and just pray in your own words. Pray and seek our Lord, he is waiting on us always. If you can only imagine how an awesome God we have he is faithful to us, yet we disobey him at times, he loves us all with an unconditional LOVE.
    May anyone who reads this message find peace in the Lord in their lives…I know I have.

  • Your Name

    I beileve that any time you mention God it is a prayer. Usually when I hear or see something that it is different or strange I often times utter “Lord have mercy”. Whenever there are times I feel overwhelmed or upset with something or someone I just say “Lord Jesus”. It does make me feel better. I pray everyday. Sometimes it seems like every hour. Prayer is a meditation for me a way to still time and get closer to God. And I can say that after I pray, be it a short one or a long one, I always, always feel so much better.

  • Your Name

    Some times people do not have time for a long prayer. A circumstance or situation may require for a quick prayer; such as, Lord help, I need you Jesus, Lord have mercy, watch over them Lord, and Oh God just to mention a few. God is always there just a whisper away. I called on him, the almighty and awesome God himself one day and he answered immediately. Oh God! I cried with a febble voice. God heard me and he caught me, kept me from falling. I heard a song several years ago.
    “God is Standing By” It says, God is standing by no need to fear, My God is standing near he’s everywhere, he will hear you when you call and he will catch you before you fall so just remember my god is
    standing by.

  • Your Name

    Prayer is the one of the most powerful there is…..I know I am a witness. If one is really and I mean really sincere within their heart God is there for you to take away the pain and will comfort you. To have a Prayer answered you must have Faith.. He might not come when you want him but believe me he is right on time.

  • Rick

    In response to part of the article, sometimes God fulfills the test by causing a strong desire or a burning desire in our hearts to help resolve a matter, like mentioned regarding plight of peoples in Darfur. He will instigate us to feel strongly about a cause and it drives us to react and do something about it. It could be in this case, He wants you to get involve and do what ever it takes to help the people there. Gathering food, medicines and taking them there, working with some organization already trying to help them, get involve in the politics and help to changes others hearts to help in the plight of the people. By doing these things, not only does it help God to pass the so- called test but also it helps you to past his test for you, “Do you hear and respond to His will for you.” If you properly see Him as the source for your involvement, acting, and declaring it, that His grace and mercy has helped you and the peoples of Darfur, thus glorifying Him,.
    Yes, we should test things we perceive to come from God, by using the word of God and does it line up with His Will and desire for us and in this case, it very well might be your calling.
    It is through the faith that we believe God will do what He has promised us in His word. When we lean on Him in faith to deliver, help, heal, or forgive us as He says He will do for those that keep His commandments and those that do His will and follow in their walk in Jesus Christ. God tells us; we are to test spirits and things that are god-like to see if it is truly Gods spirit or of the evil type like in 1John chapter 4. Yes, we can and are expected to test God from time to time, but it is more testing our faith in Him; by what we do, not what He does, it is through our faith that His promises for us are fulfilled. It needs to be done with true faith and with no doubting our minds. However, this does not mean we will always like the answer. He gives us the answer sometimes we have to wait and wait is a proper answer at those times. God is using that time for two things developing a positive outcome to the request or situation and developing deeper faith in us.

  • rick

    sorry sent to wrong blog should have gone to “putting the screws on God”

Previous Posts

Faith vs. Fear
"Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6 “Don’t be afraid; just believe...” ~ Jesus (Luke 8:50) As I was waking up early this morning, I heard the Holy Spirit whi

posted 12:23:44pm Nov. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Into Africa, Into Ebola with Encouragment
"I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." ~ Jesus (John 17:4) On January 3rd Dr. Lowell Gess of Alexandria, Minnesota will travel to Sierra Leone to bring $100,000 of medical supplies to help against the fight of Ebola in that region. Dr. Gess lived in Sierra

posted 1:04:39pm Nov. 24, 2014 | read full post »

An Endless Circle of Affirmation and Celebration
Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you." John 17:1 Jesus gave tutorials on prayer to His disciples. He gave them an outline of subjects for prayer; he also gave them examples of how to present (and how not to present) our

posted 1:12:10pm Nov. 21, 2014 | read full post »

You Have An Advocate
"It is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. ..When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.

posted 12:00:20pm Nov. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Jesus on Productivity
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers... If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it wi

posted 11:43:02am Nov. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.