TODAY’S READING: ECCLESIASTES 5-8
“To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools.” – Ecclesiastes 5:1
To draw near to God is the purpose of prayer. Therefore, in prayer it is better to listen than to offer the sacrifice of fools.
Proverbs 10:19 says, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”
Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”
Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”
The sacrifice of fools is to be rash with your with mouth and hasty to utter words before God. A fool’s voice comes with many words. A fool comes before God declaring, vowing, all of his thoughts, plans, and dreams. “God this is what I’m going to do, this is what I have planned. Please bless it.” This is why Ecclesiastes 5:3 says, “For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.”
“Therefore let your words be few.” This is how you guard your steps when you go to the house of God. When you go to the house of God, when you draw near to God, go to God to listen. Go to God to hear his wisdom, his plan, and not to lay out everything you have planned and and everything you will do.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 says, “For God is in heaven and you are on earth.”
Did you know that Jesus draw on these verses in Ecclesiastes as the basis for the Lord’s prayer?
In Luke 11, when Jesus finished praying, one of the disciples asked Jesus that he would teach the disciples how to pray. Luke then records a version of the Lord’s prayer.
In Matthew 6, the Lord’s prayer comes as part of the sermon on the mount. In verse 7, Jesus said, “And when you pray, do not heap empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Jesus is referencing Ecclesiastes 5 and the fool who comes to God with rash words and who is hasty to utter words before God to declare all his plans, his dreams, his vows. “This is what I will do for you God.”
But, in verses 8 and 9, Jesus said, “Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this.” Jesus said do not be like the fools that come to God with their many words declaring what they will do. Don’t come to God giving full vent to your spirit and expressing your opinion. Instead come to God to listen, for understanding. As the writer in Ecclesiastes 5 says, “Therefore let your words be few.”
Then, in verses 9 and 10, Jesus started his model prayer with, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Why did the writer of Ecclesiastes say we should come to God listen instead of rashly to speak many words? Why should our words be few?
“For God is in heaven and you are on earth.”
It is just this idea that Jesus started his model prayer with. “Our father in heaven.” God is heaven. We are on earth.
And, instead of heaping up empty phrases, trying to be heard by our many words, we should simply say, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Instead of coming to God with all of our grand plans, ideas, vows, things we will do for God, we should come to listen for his will, to see how God plans to bring his kingdom from heaven to earth. “For God is in heaven and you are on earth.”
To pray the way that Jesus instructed, we need to let our words be few. We need to draw near to God to listen. “Whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” “A wise man quietly holds is [the full vent of his spirit] back.” A wise man prays like Jesus by not expressing his opinion, but seeking understanding from God. “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Let us draw near to listen so the Lord can use us to bring in his kingdom.