"Thank you, have a good day and come back."

To say that I like a good taco is something of an understatement. I typically go by the local “Bell” about three times a week for a late lunch. I tend to order the same thing. Why? Well, because I can eat it. My food allergies prevent me from consuming certain foods, and a hard shell Taco Supreme doesn’t contain the wheat, which is harmful to my system. But enough about my dietary intake.
The same lady stands behind the counter. For several months we’ve met across the cash register. She’s never looked me in the eye. She always says the same thing after I’ve placed my order. Always. ALWAYS. I’ve got it memorized. Obviously she does too. “Your order number is… Thank you, have a good day and come back.” It’s rote. She’s said it over and over. The statement has no meaning to me … or evidently to her. It’s agonizing to hear. She’s never smiled. She’s never said anything different. Even the inflection in her voice is the same. I almost cringe when she says it now. It’s kind of like fingernails scratching on a chalkboard. “Your order number is… Thank you, have a good day and come back.”
I do “come back,” but not for the happy counter help.
I sometimes wonder if this is how God feels when we pray. We’re inclined to use the same words and phrases and to make the same routine requests. It’s like the lady at the local fast food restaurant. The order and wording is all too similar. Does the Almighty feel about our prayers like I feel about the lady’s comments at TB? Does He think, “Say something different!” “Put your heart into it!” “Show some passion!” “Be sincere!”
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus warned, “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7). The phrase “vain repetitions” is one word in the Greek and refers to idle chatter.
It is easy to resort to idle chatter (e.g. repetitious language) when we talk to God, isn’t it? That’s because it demands little concentration or mental effort. But there is a subtle danger of falling into “pattern” prayer. If you spoke to your spouse using the same, empty, insincere, repetitive words on a daily basis, how would that affect your marriage? Would you be closer to him or her? Would there be an intimate verbal “tie” that drew the two of you together? Of course not. Since warm, genuine communication is an essential key to a good marriage, how can we think that poor, tedious communication will somehow enhance our bond with the Father in heaven? God is not impressed with the mindless recital of spiritual-sounding words; he is impressed and affected, however, by earnest (Luke 18:2-7), heartfelt (2 Corinthians 12:7,8; Matthew 26:39-44), and thoughtful prayers that flow from our inner souls (Psalm 88:13; Philippians 4:6).
“What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding…” (1 Corinthians 14:15a).

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Mike Benson

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One thought on “"Thank you, have a good day and come back."

  1. Thank you for this article. It’s where the rubber hits the road, so to say. God bless you for writing it.
    Take care,
    Ruth Ann
    Wisconsin

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