“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7.
What do you think of prayer? Is it just another line on your “to-do” list when you’ve completed a lot of the other things on the list? Do you sometimes view prayer as a distraction, or as drudgery or chore? Are you uncomfortable that you know enough “prayer speak” to do it well? Is prayer a requirement you regret or an opportunity to communicate that you relish?
Perhaps one of the most common misconceptions about prayer is that it needs to be done a certain way using a formula with just the right religious words. Scripture presents a much less rigid picture of prayer, one that looks more like a conversation. For example, Moses argued with God about going back to Egypt (Exodus 3:11-14), Elijah complained to Him about feeling alone (1 Kings 19:10) and Mary responded to God with a spontaneous, heartfelt song (Luke 1:46).
Prayer is a different conversation than we normally have. We are used to talking with people face-to-face or over the phone and getting immediate responses that enable us to drive the conversation in the direction we want it to go. A conversation with God is completely different. It takes faith and honesty. The Book of Psalms is basically a prayerbook and in its pages, you will find joy, serenity, victory, thanksgiving, petition, anger, disappointment, loss, grief, fear, and despair. It’s all there. One of David’s most profound prayers is striking in its simplicity: “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming’ (Psalm 27:8) This is an uncomplicated statement born out of an intimate friendship: “You want to talk with me, and I want to talk with you.”
Prayer is a conversation with God. But it has to be honest. Five minutes of honest prayer is better than two hours of a prayer of rhetoric and “stained glass” themes. And something starts to happen when we become really honest in prayer. All of a sudden, prayer is not so much another thing to do as it is a foundation for everything we do. It feels good to communicate with someone who loves us and has plans for our life. Because prayer is about building a relationship with God rather than getting what we want, He welcomes all of our feelings, thoughts, and doubts. In return, He offers us His steady, loving presence.
God wants us to come to Him and lay everything — our dreams, desires, struggles, anger, temptation, fear, confusion, and heartache — at His feet, not just so we’ll feel known by Him but so we’ll learn His heart and develop the deepest, most faithful friendship we’ve ever known.
So pray. Pray honestly and wait for the Lord. It’s not a chore, it’s a privilege and a delight.
- What is the antidote to duty-driven prayer?
- What can we do this week to make prayer a delight rather than a chore?