Prayer is about relationship. There is no real power in prayer, but the power is in God and our prayers are simply the doorways to the heart of God. Because we live in a self-centered, me first society it is difficult for us to understand that prayer is really all about God and not all about us.
For most of my life I have thought of prayer as a series of demands or wants that I hold up to God and He graciously fulfills those requests if it fits within His plan. As a result when things didn’t work out the way that I thought they should I simply wrote it off as God not being aligned to my wants. I honestly didn’t see prayer as an opportunity to get to know God, spend time with Him and grow in my love for Him. Instead I saw God as a type of Santa Clause who dispensed good things to those who asked if it suited His plans.
Prayer is about talking to God. It is our opportunity to speak to Him about the things that are on our heart and to open our lives to His grace. It is God that should be the center of our prayers and not our list of things that we want from Him.
It is never wrong to pray for others and hold our requests up before God. It is never wrong to pray for our loved ones and seek God’s intervention in their lives. But prayer is primarily about coming to God in full submission and laying all our self-importance down at His feet and accepting His graciousness and mercy into our lives. Prayer is getting to know God.
Prayer makes me thirst for God. I admit that I don’t find prayer easy. I struggle with taking the time to commune with God and I take even less time to listen to His responses. But, when I pray I feel very close to Him. I experience a peace and calm that flows through me that assure me that I am loved and not forgotten by God. This experience always makes me want to experience more of God and know Him better.
Charles Price, pastor of the People’s Church in Toronto says “even if God never answered one of our prayers we would still be richer for our prayer life.” That is an awesome thought that puts God, prayer and us in perspective. I believe Pastor Price is saying that prayer is learning to know the heart of God and His will for us and not primarily about the answers to our prayers
When my father was alive we talked almost every single day on the phone. Looking back over that experience I realize it would have been a strange relationship with my father if every time we talked all I wanted was for him to do something for me. What kind of a relationship would I have had with dad if my calls were, “Hi dad, I love you, now I need this and I need that, and so on and so forth, thanks?” Then I hung up.
Instead my conversations with my father were rich and rewarding because I knew from those conversations that my dad loved me and he enjoyed talking to me and listening to me. I always felt good after talking to him because I knew I had someone in my corner who honestly loved and cared about my life and the life of my family and would do anything in the world to help me. I also knew there were no conditions on my father’s love for me. When he talked to me I could feel his joy in being with me radiate through his words and I in turn looked forward to our talks.
Maybe this is what prayer is about. It is talking to God about who we are and listening to God talk to us about His love for us. Every time we pick up the Bible and begin to read under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the grace and love of God flows out to us. From God clothing Adam and Eve in the garden to the nakedness of Jesus on the cross, the Father’s love is ever present.
I am not insinuating that we don’t bring our petitions before God or pray for the lost. What I am saying is that prayer is primarily about getting to know the heart of God and taking comfort and having assurance that the God of the universe knows your name, your circumstances and your heart and longs to call you friend.
David writes, “Praise is due to thee, O God, in Zion; and to thee shall vows be performed, O thou who hearest prayer! To thee shall all flesh come on account of sins, when our transgressions prevail over us, thou dost forgive them. Blessed is he whom thou dost choose and bring near, to dwell in thy courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, the holy temple.” Psalms 65:1-4
We praise God because He hears our prayers, but notice what David’s prayers were about. David comes to God in confidence that he is a forgiven man even when his sins prevail over him. Here is the heart of prayer. You and I are not perfect. We sin and we all sin much more often than we wish, but we never need to be in despair or live in shame and guilt because of those sins. Why? Because when we bring our sins to God He is able and willing to forgive us.
When we pray we are getting to know God and as we get to know God we begin to truly trust in His love and grace for us. We become like David in the fact that we trust God, not only to care for us, but that He forgives our sins and remembers them no more.
God loves us unconditionally and He loves to hear from us. He knows we fail, we fall, we sin and we stumble along in our Christian experience, but He never holds that against us. Instead, He is willing to forgive us every failure if we only ask with a sincere heart.
Prayer is simply saying “here I am God and I love you and I know you love me; let’s talk.”
* When we pray God hears us. Our Christian brothers and sisters who are being persecuted for their faith in Christ are not forgotten. Continue to pray because God is listening. Go to http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ to read some of their stories.