The dictionary defines prayer as a solemn request for help or an expression of thanks; an address to God; an earnest hope, or wish; a set order of words used in praying. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Yet for many, prayer remains a challenge, a mystery, and often is seen as an unachievable goal. It’s one of those topics simple to understand and yet difficult to define. Why is prayer such a mystery? There’s no special requirement. Anyone can pray… anyone. Prayer is simply a way of talking, communicating, with God.
Prayer is not some mystical language or complicated structure where one needs to learn all the rules. Yes, there are some things which may help develop our prayer life; making it more effective, habitual and enjoyable. Once we experience prayer or observe prayer and its results in another’s life, we, like the disciples of Jesus, want to know more. Jesus disciples were firsthand witnesses to what an effective prayer life could accomplish. The disciples went to Jesus and asked, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John (John the Baptist) also taught his disciples.” In an upcoming blog we will take a deeper look at Jesus reply to their request.
Prayer, by design, can be intentional or simple chitchat. Often, I go through my day carrying on simple conversations, chitchatting, with God, much as I would a friend. Then there’s intentional prayer times; those moments I come to God, Bible in hand, with an open heart ready to share my life; allowing plenty of time for listening. The core of prayer is relationship. In our day-to-day human friendships if we never spent time talking with each other, there would be no relationship. If we did all the talking, and the other person never got to share their life with us, what kind of a relationship would we have? Prayer is our way of intentionally building our relationship, our friendship, with the God of the universe.
My day-to-day chitchat with God, while wonderful, should never replace the intentional moments of prayer. Chitchatting means I’m doing all the talking and not much listening. In my intentional moments of prayer, I’m not only sharing my life, I’m listening. We are dialoging back-and-forth. It’s in those intentional moments where God has my undivided attention. It’s in those times of intentional prayer I hear God’s Holy Spirit speak to me (more on this in an upcoming blog).
While prayer is simply communication between God and us, we must not miss its importance. Prayer is how we share our life with our Heavenly Father; it’s relationship at its finest. It takes time to develop our human relationships. Rarely, do we develop a best friend forever (BFF) relationship in the first 5 minutes, or even the first few months. BFF’s are developed over time just as our relationship with God develops over time. The key to developing our relationship with God is prayer. As we spend time in prayer our trust in the relationship grows, our understanding of God grows, we learn his heart, we discover his character and we realize how deep and how far his love extends for us.
Still a little apprehensive about this thing called prayer? Here’s a little tip I often share with others just starting out in their relationship with Jesus. Take a chair, any chair, and place the chair where you would should a human friend come for a chat. Visualize Jesus sitting in the empty chair and just start talking. Yes, you talk out loud, just as you would to a friend in the flesh. It might seem a little awkward at first, but I assure you this technique works. It won’t be long before you are chatting without the chair and enjoying your time spent with God.
More to come,