Keeping Prayers Simple and Converse with God

The Three Hermits is a Russian folktale about three monks living on an island. According to Leo Tolstoy, who tells the story, miracles sometimes occurred during the prayer of these simple monks. Their one and only prayer was “We are three; You are three; have mercy on us”. When the bishop heard about the three monks, he decided to visit them to teach them to pray in a more appropriate way. After he had finished instructing them, he set sail again for the mainland. Suddenly, the bishop saw a ball of light chasing his boat. It was the three monks running across the water. When they got to the boat, they said, “We have forgotten part of your instruction and want to check it with you”. The bishop shook his head and said humbly, “Forget what I taught you and continue to pray in your old way”. That story makes an important point about prayer. We should keep our prayer simple. Whatever confuses or complicates prayer is probably best forgotten. Someone giving advice to a young person perhaps said it best, “Keep your prayer simple. Talk to God as to a father, to Christ as to a brother, and to the Holy Spirit as a constant companion”. The key word here is “talk”. Share with God what is on our hearts in our own words. Formal prayer is wonderful and should be part of our prayer. But sincere talk with God, sharing what is going on in our lives is often even more pleasing to Him.