I'm reading through Ecclesiastes, and our (infinitely awesome) Logos Bible study software (ours is the Scholar's library edition) includes a bunch of commentaries. Some great ones are called Be ____ by Warren Wiersbe. For example, Be Holy is the accompaniment to Leviticus, and it's super helpful because it helps get to the heart of God behind what seems like monotonous and nonsensical laws. It shines light into Leviticus and brings it to life.
The companion to Ecclesiastes is Be Satisfied. It's super good stuff. I want to share a bit that is expounding on Ecclesiastes 5:1-3.
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool's voice with many words.Here's what Wiersbe writes in Be Satisfied:
Then Solomon issued a warning about careless praying (vv. 2–3). Prayer is serious business. Like marriage, “it must not be entered into lightly or carelessly, but soberly and in the fear of God.” If you and I were privileged to bring our needs and requests to the White House or to Buckingham Palace, we would prepare our words carefully and exhibit proper behavior. How much more important it is when we come to the throne of Almighty God. Yet, there is so much flippant praying done by people who seem to know nothing about the fear of the Lord.
When you pray, watch out for both hasty words and too many words (Matt. 6:7). The secret of acceptable praying is a prepared heart (Ps. 141:1–2), because the mouth speaks what the heart contains (Matt. 12:34–37). If we pray only to impress people, we will not get through to God. The author of Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan, wrote: “In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words, than words without a heart.”
Wiersbe, Warren W.: Be Satisfied. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1990, S. Ec 5:1That's convicting. I definitely am learning to be honest with God, to share what's really on my heart with him, and how to allow him full access to me. At the same time, there's something to be said for treating him flippantly. I don't often pray many words without a heart, but at the same time, it's a good reminder that prayer is, as Wiersbe said, serious business. It's boldly yet humbly coming before the throne and making my requests known to him, while being in awe that he is a God of steadfast love and righteousness and justice and wrath against sin.
For me, the wrath against my sin was poured out on Jesus on the cross. I will not experience God's just and fair judgment of my sin, because Jesus already did. That, more than anything else, should increase my awe of God in prayer. Too often I take it for granted, but I'm thankful for my reading this morning. God, in his faithfulness, is reminding me that to be his is a blessing, to know him is a sweet joy, and to make him known is a privilege.