I had a friend a while ago ask me to write a post on prayer – I believe the request was God inspired and in it I heard her heart’s desire to get closer to Jesus which gave me great joy.
It makes me think of the request made to Jesus by His disciples… “Lord, teach us to pray…”
Jesus replied with what we know today as The Lord’s prayer, you can read it here.
When thinking about my friend’s request, at first I thought about listing the ways we can ‘talk’ to God because prayer is usually described to people this way, and I know how I personally found it encouraging to understand that prayer was not some mystical, difficult religious practice, rather just simply talking to my creator and Father who loves me…
However I also feel that prayer is MORE than just ‘talking’…bear with me a moment on this, as words are important to me…You see, I think we can TALK to anyone just to be heard…and YES prayer does involve speaking to God – Yet I feel a better verb for prayer is COMMUNICATE – for when we pray we communicate with God because prayer should be 2-way, heart to heart relating.
I think this is what the request of the disciples really was asking – How do we communicate with God…How do we get closer in relationship to our heavenly Father?
Jesus heard their request and was NOT harsh; rather He gave a heart-felt prayer as an example for us all, to connect our hearts closer to our heavenly Father in petition. In Matthew 6 Jesus introduces His prayer to the disciples with the teaching to NOT ‘heap up words’, rather to speak from one’s heart; read about it here.
There is a wonderful example in the Bible Jesus told about two men praying – one just TALKS…saying to God how glad He is that he’s not an awful sinner (this man trusted in his own self-righteousness) the second beats his chest and prays for mercy…his heart calls out to God! Jesus taught the second man went home having peace with God…check it out here.
Prior to this story of the two men, Jesus told a parable commending our need to PRAY – In Luke 11 following The Lord’s prayer there is another teaching by Jesus for perseverance in prayer…So we can see from scripture the importance PRAYER plays in our relationship with God…for prayer is COMMUNICATION, God hears our heart-felt words and responds. Jesus said God already knows our needs before we pray…
Yet we still need to pray and ask because we are in RELATIONSHIP with God – PRAYER is our communication with our Father in heaven…He knows all our needs, joy and worries, for He journeys with us each day…yet wants to spend time with us hearing them, rejoicing with us in the good times and helping us carry our burdens in the difficult times.
PRAYER is communication because God will also speak to us when we pray – it may be when we silence ourselves and STOP talking during prayer and LISTEN for His calm, peaceful voice to come into our minds…it could also be by asking Him to speak to us through scripture after praying.
When we view PRAYER as communication for God is with us all of the time, I think we are better able to understand scripture which says we are to pray constantly, without ceasing – for we are able to communicate anytime, anyplace with God.
For example, when I am eating my sandwich, even if I have given thanks beforehand, I may think ‘wow this is so tasty, thanks God!’ While this may sound trivial, this is prayer. Have you ever exhaled a big breath and just though, ‘I am so glad You are with me Lord!’ – this is prayer! We can even pray silently or under our breath while working – often when something comes to mind or upon my heart to pray about, I like to simple say it then and there to avoid the regret of forgetting about it later. When people ask me to pray for them, I’ll often just still my mind and pray a short, simple prayer for their need right away…I don’t believe prayer should be complicated…I hope our hearts are more for God, than eloquent, long-winded prayers.
Yes, we can intentionally set aside longer prayer time during the day. It may be the morning when we first wake up, saying good morning, sharing our worries, asking for guidance that day and also in the evening before we sleep. Intentional prayer time I think is important for stilling ourselves and being in His presence…the Jewish people had set prayer times which can be read about in the book of Daniel.
Sometimes our hearts can be so heavy, or we can be so exhausted we don’t know what to pray – It’s times like this, I think simply getting down on our knees and praying The Lord’s prayer and just sitting silently and breathing in His presence is so helpful. You may like to connect with The Lord through a nature walk or long drive – this can be prayer too – begin it with a prayer asking The Lord to accompany you, then see what happens as you journey with Him and finish it with a prayer of thanks.
Some lessons on prayer are helpful – Some areas of prayer to think about are; Praising God, prayer for people personally involved in our lives (family, friends, work colleagues), our government leaders, suffering people, our church family and mission workers and also ourselves.
An important point I believe is that prayer does NOT just have to be spoken – We should feel free to write to The Lord also, sing our prayers to The Lord or draw them…Relate to God the way He made you, delight in Him YOUR way when communicating with Him, for I believe it gives Him delight to see His children expressing themselves genuinely and individually.
One last point is communal prayer – first and foremost I believe we must have a personal, prayer life as individuals, yet joint prayer is VERY powerful. Remember Jesus said where 2 or more are gathered in His Name, He is THERE with them! He also taught us when 2 of us agree our petition is granted. Praying as the church is so important, as is a trusted prayer partner. I have personally experienced, powerfully answered prayer when I have intentionally prayed with another believer and this even has been over the phone on many occasions. If you don’t have communal or joint prayer, I’d advise asking The Lord to guide you to a good church for there you will be able to pray during services…they may even run small prayer groups or you may even find a prayer partner in time.
I truly hope this post is helpful and encourages you to connect your heart closer to The Lord’s through DAILY communication with Him as an individual and also with His people! Remember The Lord looks at our HEARTS not our words and is available anyplace, anytime – Let Him journey with you every step.
In love, Melanie J