Prayer is important. It’s something that our Savior did many times. He went away, to be alone , in order to pray to His Father. Also, He prayed for us , sinful people, the ones who were crucifying Him on the cross, that the Father forgive us.
In my opinion, prayer’s a pretty big deal.
But when do we actually pray? What is it supposed to look like? Is there a certain way we are required to pray?
If you’re anything like anyone, then when you pray it’s generally fairly formal. I know, I know, I just clumped a good bunch of people into a stereotype , which I hate doing with a dadgum passion. BUT, please bear with me, I am going to make a point here…When people in the church typically pray we tend to do so before meals, before we start a sermon, before we start the Bible study we’re leading, etc. We tend to engage in prayer before we start something. Also, another time we tend to pray is when we are in need. Have you ever had a big test and asked God to give you clarity of mind? Or maybe when you’re making a big decision, maybe about what college to go to, which job you should take, or whether your family should move to another town? We tend to seek God in prayer when we are in need of something. Now, please don’t get me wrong, I do not think there is anything wrong with this. Actually, I think it’s completely fine, right, and dandy. However, my problem (and this is the point I want to make about the stereotype I made earlier) is that this tends to be the only time we pray. This is where I think it can become a problem. Let me explain: Christ desires a relationship with us, but not just a mutual acquaintance relationship, no, an intimate relationship. One where we tell Him about our day, where we ask Him questions because we don’t understand life at the moment. A relationship where we talk to Him like we would to a best friend . God’s not just sitting up in Heaven, looking down upon His creation, and watching us, not engaging with us. Heck, He dwells within us in the form of His Holy Spirit . God is active in our lives, and He cares about us. When we seek Him , we will find Him. When we engage in conversation, just simply talking to Him, we are praying to Him. Maybe this challenges your definition of prayer. I hope so. I hope you haven’t taken the term “prayer” and stuck it into a box, duct taped it, and thrown it into the depths of your mind never to be tampered with. If you have, I encourage you to think about what prayer really is. If we are to pray continuously , then how much more continuous can you be if you’re constantly engaging your Savior in conversation?
If prayer isn’t just a formal, do-it-before-you-eat-and-start-a-Bible-study thing, then what’s it supposed to look like? Well, as I said just moments ago, it’s a conversation. We are able, and even encouraged in my opinion, to carry on a conversation with God. But there’s something we need to be aware of when we do this. We don’t need to gossip to God . Now, hear me out on this one: we can complain to God, we can gripe to Him, we can be excited by what He’s doing in our lives, but why would we gossip to Him? Now, my definition of gossip is “taking something out of context, or reading into it, and then talking about it”. God knows the context of what you’re talking to Him about, so when we gossip to Him via our prayer life (or prayer conversation) He knows that we are twisting the truth. God desires us to be Holy , and so twisting conversations might not be the best plan we’ve ever had…
So, if we shouldn’t gossip to God, but we can carry on a conversation with Him, is there a to-do list for our prayer life? Is there a set of requirements that Scripture presents for us when it comes to prayer? Hmm…kind of a tough question. My answer is going to be my own opinion (as are most of my posts and answers to questions…) But I say no. I know, you’re mind is immediately jumping to Matthew 6:5-15 . (Versus 9-13 are generally known as “The Lord’s Prayer”) I am of the opinion that Jesus, when He tells His Disciples this, is giving them some general humility guidelines for when they pray. I mean, if we read this passage we see that this is exactly what Christ is saying: “don’t pray in the street corners to be seen by others” (v. 5 ) “Don’t heap empty phrases” (v. 7 ) I love what He says in v. 8:“Do not be like them [the Pharisees and the Gentiles], for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” God knows what we need, so when we engage in prayer with Him, be humble. Talk to Him like He’s you’re best friend, because He can (and probably should) be your best friend…after all, He does have the most wisdom of anyone I’ve ever talked to, or read about…
Even though I don’t enjoy clumping people into stereotypes, I want to challenge you to think outside of your preconceived notions you have about prayer. Ask God to show you the joys prayer can (and ultimately will) have in your life. He’s our Father, our Creator, and our King. He’s the one who formed us, and in His grace saved us from our sins by belief in His Son. So why not engage in a conversation with Him? It may very well be the best conversation you’ve ever had.
What are your thoughts about prayer? Has your life been changed through talking with God? How so? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Feel free to share prayer requests; I would love to enter into conversation with our Lord along side of you.